Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Don't Answer That Phone!
by James Glaser
January 22, 2011
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This is the time of year that people in in Minnesota refuse to answer the phone if the ID shows them the call is from Florida. It is amazing how many people you can think of calling when you hear that it is 40 below zero back home, and it is a hundred degrees warmer here in Florida.

My daughter called the other day. When I asked her what she was doing she said that it was 2 below and she was walking the three blocks from the parking garage to her place of work. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was 56 above down here, and we were all feeling chilly.

Hey, it is chilly down here when it gets down in the 50s, and this is the truth, the winter parkas come out down here when the temp dips into the 40s.

I still have my VFW jacket that I wore in Northern Minnesota, and it feels really good at 40, but it is the same jacket I wore at -40 up North. It is all what you get used to.

But back to those phone calls. Yes, I do it, too. Some how in any conversation I have with the people up North, I have to mention the weather down here. I might not say it is warm or that it is in the 70s, but I might talk about weeding the garden or how I am getting ready to plant this or that. Heck, those people back home haven't even seen the ground for months now.

You know, I have to gloat a bit this time of year, because in the summer I envy them to no end. Minnesota summers are a bit of heaven—even if they last for only two weeks.

In truth though, I sometimes do miss winter in the woods of Northern Minnesota. I miss sitting in the house on a cold day with the wood stove fired up and the sunshine bouncing off the snow through the windows making the house so very bright.

I don't miss the snow shovel, but I do miss, and this might sound crazy, I miss driving in the snow right after getting like 16 inches. You have to speed up to get through a drift, and you have to pay attention. I always liked driving down a highway at night, when you were the first and it was total white from ditch to ditch. You had to stay in the middle and about the only flaw in that carpet of snow was the tracks deer would make crossing the roadway.

Of course I miss the night sky. There is no clearer sky than a moonless night at 20 below. All the humidity is out of the air, and if you can handle the cold, the stars jump right out at you. Oh, and yes, also the Northern Lights. There are nights that the whole sky shimmers with them. No one has ever made a light show that can match those.

But let's get back to Florida here. It is January, and today was miserable (for Florida), but I only needed a long sleeve shirt, and it was miserable because it was gray. It was still in the mid 50s and tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny and in the 60s. I really do have things growing in the garden and soon we will be eating broccoli and cauliflower. We can eat arugula, carrots, radishes, beets, collards, and kohlrabi now.

Tomorrow, Wanda and I will be taking an outdoor class at Native Nurseries in Tallahassee. We are going to learn how to keep squirrels out of our bird feeders; it's either that or Wanda will get out her BB gun. We'll learn how to identify the birds that come and what plants attract winter birds. I am still on the learning curve when it comes to the native plants down here.

I think later this afternoon, I'll be calling friends in Minnesota on my cell phone from the garden. Maybe I'll start out with a gardening question and work my way around to mentioning that I working in the garden as we speak. It really is just terrible how I smile when I read the weather reports. I shouldn't be this way, but I know all the thousands and thousands of Northerners who have moved down here have that same smile.

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