A time in the sun

Ed Smith
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I don’t like Florida. Which is basically unfair because I’ve never been to Florida. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I don’t like the idea of Florida.

That’s a blatantly prejudicial comment, as well. I can think of lots of ideas about Florida that I think I do like.

For example, it’s almost always warm, and I do love warm. One can pick large juicy oranges right off the trees and I do love my Tropicana orange juice — with pulp, no sugar or water added. Women are usually not overdressed. Younger woman, especially, seem anxious to offer up their bodies to the sun god, a kind of human sacrifice.

Speaking of human sacrifice — and I am — Abraham had his Isaac, and Danny Williams his Kathy Dunderdale. The difference seems to be that at the last minute God prevented Abraham from completing the deed on his son. Kathy didn’t get her final reprieve. The sacrificial knife poised high above her descended for that final blow.

That’s a gruesome image. Sorry, former premier. Don’t want to make this a personal thing. When I speak of your being made a sacrifice on the altar of political expediency, I’m talking only politically. As a person, I’m sure you’d make a lovely friend.

Back to Florida. And there’s no snow down there. You don’t see row after row of snow shovels and snow blowers in the hardware stores.

Lord, I hate snow! And ice. I positively despise ice. It was ice that dictated I should sit in a wheelchair the rest of my life. I don’t forget little things like that.

The main reason people give me for going to Florida during winter is the heat, and that’s fair enough. But I have so many issues relative to Florida that I’ve never really gotten past them. Forget all that stuff about hurricanes and I heat waves. We’ve already had a couple of brushes with hurricanes and other natural disasters.

I just don’t like the smell of the place, and that has nothing at all to do with garbage. I don’t think we’d go, even if we could afford it, although looking outside today and we might have second thoughts. Really nasty with wind and ice pellets and snow.

We have several friends who become snowbirds in winter and enjoy the south fully. If I went down, I would probably enjoy it, too. I wouldn’t have to get involved in their politics or their culture or anything, but God help me if I got sick.

It doesn’t happen that often, it seems, but when it does and your travel insurance fails you, your best bet is to immediately do something drastic, such as throwing yourself under an aircraft carrier or selling yourself on the street to the highest bidder. In neither case would any of my friends have much hope of surviving.

We have a friend who was in Florida for a brief vacation when some little thing went wrong that required her to go to a hospital. After two or three days, it was determined she needed a minor procedure that took only a day. When she got her bill, she got the shock of her life. It was in excess of $100,000, which didn’t include doctor’s fees. But no matter. She had checked before leaving Canada and her travel health insurance was fine. However, she bought extra just to be sure.

But guess what? There was a little clause in that insurance, a little condition, which if “violated” negated the whole thing. And, guess what, sports fans? The condition was deemed by the insurance to have been violated and they refused to pay up.

That medical bill was way beyond the ability of our friend to pay, so once she was back on friendly soil she heaved a great sigh of relief. As it was, she couldn’t get back into the U.S. for years. For some reason, she didn’t want to.

Bad things happen when you go to Florida for a holiday. Ask Kathy Dunderdale. Don’t know where Lorraine Michael went for her little R and R, but if it was Florida we should all chip in and immediately buy Stephen Harper a first-class ticket to St. Petersburg.

By the way, have you heard the latest one making the rounds about our prime minister? It seems this lady was talking to God.

“God,” she prayed, “it has not been a good year. You took my favourite old-time Western movie actor, Dale Robertson. You took my favourite new actor, Paul Walker. My favourite classical pianist, Van Cliburn, died. You took my favourite singer, Whitney Houston. God, I just want you to know that my favourite politician is Stephen Harper.”

OK, so you’ve heard it. Sorry.

I suppose living for even a couple of months where it’s always warm and sunny wouldn’t be too bad.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy;

Fish is jumpin’ and the cotton is high.

It sounds great in the opera “Porgy and Bess,” but I’m not convinced. A friend was saying the other day as we were having a discussion on the same topic, that he refuses to live in a climate where there are no seasons.

I know what he’s saying. Autumn — harvest, breathtaking beauty and hunting. Winter — hunting and fishing through the ice, snowmobiling and winter trips to the cabin. Spring — watching the Earth come to life, sowing the seed, fishing when the ice goes out of the ponds. Summer — boating in the ponds and on the salt water, barbecues with family and friends, watching things grow.

These are the highlights of my seasons. I’m sure there’s more to it for you. But annual progression from one season to the other is a large factor in making us who and what we are.

And a couple of months in the sun probably won’t spoil that.


Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Tropicana

Geographic location: Florida, Canada, U.S. Springdale

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