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Don't get hot under the collar 'cause . . . // Baby, it's cold up North

You've all heard it. Many of you have said it.

"It" is the often heard "This is why we came to Florida."

It's a phrase that is repeated frequently at this time of year. For it refers to the weather we enjoy in the winter months, while our friends and relatives in most other parts of the country are wearing their clothes in layers as they battle winter's cold. Many of you remember what seemed a never-ending battle to keep homes warm and walks and streets clear of ice and snow.

These memories are more vivid than ever this winter, as more than the usual complement of visitors from the North have arrived with horror stories of the wintry blasts they have endured.

It has been, these frozen folks may say, an unusually tough winter. But how many times have you heard that? Or said it, in your pre-Florida days? Almost annually, it sometimes seems, except for those Northerners who are in denial, or who profess to have a peculiar affinity for snow and and/or cold.

One woman we know talks about "the little pocket" in which she lives in northern Minnesota. According to her, the cold northern winds and heavy snows for which Minnesota is so well known just pass right by that "pocket." I've not been there to see (or feel) for myself, but I confess to being a doubter.

Our son and his wife recently came to Florida from Philadelphia. It was a "warm-up trip," given to our son by our daughter-in-law as a surprise Christmas gift.

They ordinarily vacation here around Labor Day, and we all know what that means. It is hot. Those trips, along with summer beach vacations in Florida our son experienced with the family while growing up led him to think of Florida as hot, period.

So he was perplexed when he arrived in late January to find that Florida was neither hot nor cold. As he sat in their cottage on the beach, with all the doors and windows open, he seemed to be alternately pleased and confused. Where was the heat and humidity he long ago came to associate with Florida?

Another guest will be arriving this weekend. She gave up life in St. Petersburg last year and moved to St. Louis, assuring us that winters there are mild. That hasn't seemed to be the case this year as we follow the temperature readings there.

We, like many Floridians, may grumble about the heat as summer takes hold in July, holding us tightly in its steamy grip through September, and sometimes even October.

But then we consider the alternative _ those cold northern winters _ and we know why we came to Florida _ or at least one very important reason. We may suffer from the heat, but we're not very likely to slip and break a leg on a humid sidewalk.

One of our daughters, who lives in Iowa, frequently reminds us as we express our sympathy over the sub-zero readings she has to endure, "But it's supposed to be cold in Iowa."

I readily agree. But I also have a ready response: "Well, we're supposed to be in Florida."

You can write to Jay Horning c/o Seniority, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.