It happens every year when we're too busy to pay attention, this subtle, unstoppable season of change.
One minute we're lazing on the beach, kids filling the malls, and suddenly we're back in rush-hour traffic behind massive school buses filled with those mall kids, some of them looking like they're heading to prison work camp instead of just class.
The primary election finally over, we no longer have to open the mailbox gingerly like we did when candidates were regularly sending us the political version of Howlers from the Harry Potter books. To our house came dozens of shiny screeds calling the Other Candidate a do-nothing, liar, thief, everything short of porn star, though I might have missed that on the way to the recycling bin. We get a breather on this, at least until November gets closer.
Maybe I'll miss all those voices on my answering machine —Jeff Greene's wife saying what a swell senator he would be, Hillsborough commission hopeful Les Miller's grandchild calling about Pop Pop. Probably not.
Here's a good change, election-wise: Early voting before election day made getting to the polls easier on a lot of us. Not me, though. I vote old-school, in a tiny white church around the corner that smells of chalk dust and has that hushed, churchy feel of Something Important Going On.
I get to see my neighbors, a guy who rides up on his bike, a couple trading a baby back and forth to take turns voting, a woman hunched over her ballot beside me whose cell phone goes off and plays — it takes me a minute — The Chicken Dance.
I like the colorful campaign signs on the curb outside and the hawkers who brave the rain, letting me know which candidates care about my neighborhood, my precinct, my vote. I wear my I VOTED sticker all day, no matter how many times the Florida humidity forces me to re-affix it.
Speaking of change, in St. Petersburg they've decided to demolish the Pier, and can you imagine that kitschy upside-down triangle of a building gone? When I first moved here, the Pier was a place you always took your out-of-towners to see the water and feel the breeze. Can't remember when that changed.
Over in Tampa, the City Council votes this week on whether to let the owner of the old Woolworth building downtown out of a deal requiring her to preserve the facade. When you think about it, the building was once all about change, the site of lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s to protest segregation.
So much history has been lost building-wise in the name of change. But now and then you see something heartening, a cool old church converted to apartments, a cigar factory-turned-office, a historic brick facade now a business. Too bad that kind of creative change hasn't happened for the old Woolworth. We'll see if the council, which recently lost two historic-minded members, paves the way for it to fall.
Speaking of fall, autumn is only a month away, which is hard to imagine in this heat. Just this week, I walked into a store to buy one of those windshield covers to keep the sun from frying my steering wheel (and my hands). Clerks were busy stocking shelves with plastic pumpkins, and also starting in on … yep, Christmas decorations.
Even in this season of change, that has to be the new Too Soon.