Sunday, April 11, 2010

Summer

We are told that the great beauty of living Up North is the joy of traversing seasons during the course of a year. I have been told this innumerable times as though there are no seasons in the Keys. But there are seasons, there are and as subtle as they may be changes are coming to our environment at this time of year.I was out on Sugarloaf Key walking Cheyenne when it occurred to me she is starting to slow down as the heat builds up. It's not hot yet and the southeast breeze brings cooling air but it is no longer winter. Spring is typically sunny with a few cloudy cold fronts that pass through as though migrating south, but temperatures don't drop that much anymore. Highs are in the 80's and lows at night are in the 70's (20-28c) which makes for perfect weather as humidity hasn't kicked in yet. The sun is increasing in intensity and the waters around the islands are starting to get close to comfortable swimming temperatures. It's not yet rainy season so there should be a few weeks to take advantage of dry trails if the temperatures in the woods are bearable.My own life changes with the variations in the season. It's now I start thinking about getting the boat off the trailer and into the water. This is also the time when winter residents hike off north to be with their families in the sweltering land bound summers Up North, so traffic is lighter, the Tropic Cinema is no longer packed and lines shrivel at restaurants. Key West becomes accessible once more. Cheyenne will doubtless get longer walks in the morning when I get back from work, as sleepy as I may be, and the middle of the day will be reserved for hanging out at home in the air conditioning. We'll start taking more walks in Key West where she can pack more exploration into shorter distances. It's also easier to plan a circular walk in Key West planning to be back at the car by the time she is worn out by the heat. When we are out on a trail we have to retrace our steps to get back to the car. It also means I get to take more pictures in town and fewer in the mangroves- another sign of a changing season.
I like summer, as do most year round residents, and after this particularly brutal and cold (by local standards) winter I hope there will be fewer people this summer moaning about the heat. I like the heat and humidity and bright white light, as I much more energized by warmth than cold. Of course the heat is made bearable by a the presence of a dark, cool air conditioned cave to duck into.Some people say it gets too hot to ride a motorcycle in the summer down here but that's not my problem, usually. With less traffic it's easier to get a decent airflow so it all works out. I don't feel deprived because I have no stories of tremendous winter hardship to tell, as a way of welcoming Spring and rebirth and fresh growth and greenery. I like the idea of a fireplace and snowdrifts up to the window lintel as the backdrop for a story but after a couple of days I would miss the ease of stepping out at will in shorts and a t shirt. The need for covered limbs and hats and scarves and all that other stuff just seems like an obstruction to me.
Even though the change of seasons are subtle they are real, as we live in sub tropical islands where the sun moves up and down in the sky during the course of the year. Pretty soon the winds will ease and the waters will go flat like mirrors reflecting the sky such that the horizon will be hard to discern. Clouds will build up and sudden downpours will force me to stop by the side of the road and pull on my waterproofs. Even riding in the rain is a pleasure where hypothermia is a word not a state of anxiety.

I can't get enough of summer, until early September when I secretly start to look forward to the first cold front, which will still be at least six weeks away. Ask me then if summer has dragged on long enough.