I giggled ever so slightly when I read the news reports of snow (yup, SNOW) in my erstwhile hometown of New Orleans. Five inches of the white stuff, in fact, enough to cobble together a caramel-colored snowman of sorts in City Park.
Schools were closed, as were government offices and bridges, and thousands of people lost electrical power. It was more disrupting than some hurricanes.
The giggles were because I had just flown in from Salt Lake City, where five inches of snow causes about as much concern as a summer's afternoon shower in my beautiful hometown of Hudson. In other words, none.
The goal in Salt Lake City is 500 (yup, HUNDRED) inches of snow a year. Otherwise, the big-spending tourists won't come to swoosh-swoosh down the sides of the mountains on their skis right now, and the locals can't water their lawns in July. The weather guys were starting to get worried that some areas hadn't had but 18 inches of snow this fall, so when 5 to 9 inches fell on Monday, there was a celebration and cars backed up for blocks waiting to get to the Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton ski areas.
I was visiting my son, who lives about 5,500 feet up on the Wasatch Front smack between these ski slopes and keeps the thermostat at 65 degrees in the daytime, heaven-knows-how-low at night. Knowing that I'm a thin-blooded Floridian, he and his wife assented to push it up to 67 degrees, but I noticed that they wore shorts, tank tops and sandals, even as I sat swaddled in five layers of clothes, including some large, waffle-weave men's thermal underwear I found in a storage bin in their guest room.
In his epic Hawaii, James Michener writes of missionaries from the northeast to those lush islands who dressed their kids in long woolen undies in September and didn't let them take those itchy things off until May because that's what they did back in Massachusetts. Never mind the kids got heat rash and skin sores, they kept those undies on.
Perhaps that why my son and his wife, former residents of Florida and Texas, keep wearing their cut-offs when they walk their dog in the December snow. Is it habit, or do they really not notice that the temperature is 12 degrees and the edges of their shorts are covered with fluffy white stuff?
Being the good sport that I am, or try to be, I volunteered to help shovel out the driveway, which looked short, but isn't. As my heart pounded and I worked up a sweat, I pleaded with them, "If I keel over from all this exertion, please don't let the newspaper describe my demise as that of 'an elderly woman visiting from Florida'. It's bad enough that I'm so out of shape; don't make me ancient, too."
When I returned to my Florida house Wednesday night, the indoor temperature was a natural 74 degrees with neither heating nor cooling operating. I found myself putting on a lightweight nightie and realized that in just eight days, I'd grown accustomed to the cooler climes and that 74 degrees seemed like a heat wave.
Every year about this time, I hear northerners lamenting the warm temperatures and pining for something white on the ground besides the sand of Clearwater Beach.
Having just spent eight days looking at the twinkling lights of the Salt Lake Valley thousands of feet below the rear balconies of my son's house, the giant moon coming up over the mountains in front of his house, and the intense shadows cast by the snow-laden trees on the bright, white snow, while listening to the nearby mountain stream tumble over boulders and rocks in the stillness of the crisp night, I can understand and appreciate why people do dream of a white Christmas.
Disturbing dog ears
As a new semi-retiree, I'm reading more books than I've read since college days — four and five a week, sometimes more.
I purchase the ones I know I'll want to read again and again and/or make notes in the margins. But for casual reads, I'm overjoyed at the bounty of riches in the Pasco County Library system.
So I was horrified to see that some borrowers actually (and this is unbelievable in this day and age) turn down the corners of pages to mark their stopping place.
Perhaps I'm naive, but I thought such behavior had become as unacceptable as spitting on the floor and smoking in an elevator.