Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fat Penguins and Florida Mermaids

Back when I lived in Gunnison, a 19 degree day during the all-too-long and all-too-cold winter would be downright balmy. In fact, any temperature in the double digits was considered a positive. But when I spent 2 days in Chicago last week, the 19 degree weather cut right through my clothes and chilled me to the bone. Hell, I'll even go so far as to say 30 degrees in Florida is more painful than 19 degrees in Colorado, and it's funny how different temperatures can feel in different climates. But regardless of the location, I was reminded again last week that I'm definitely a Florida girl and I definitely don't miss cold weather. 

Sure, it's fun to cozy up in fuzzy mittens and scarves and play in snow and imbibe gallons of piping hot liquids, but maybe a of that is good enough for me. Six months? No thanks, been there done that. On the whole, winter weather just makes me feel uncomfortable and out of place, and waddling around like a fat penguin in 20 layers of clothing makes me feel incredibly claustrophobic (not to mention that you then have to take those 20 layers on and off numerous times a day and lug them around with you like a damn sherpa). I know winter is a dream for some people and summer is a burden, and I know from experience that I can tolerate months of bitter cold and blinding snow if I have to (and that I will even willingly go ice fishing in -34 degree weather at 9,400 feet elevation!)... 

 ...but I'll take paddleboarding in a bikini all day and swimming in springs in January over that any day.

I think Jordan may be inclined to agree.

 As much as I love winters in Florida, this winter in particular has been exceptionally warm. While paddleboarding the other weekend, I noticed so many blooming aquatic plants that aren't in season, like the above alligator lily (Hymenocallis palmeri) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Even around town azaleas are blooming like crazy, months before they're supposed to. So while the weather feels nice, I do worry and wonder about the effect it's having.

In the moment, while I worry about the declining state of things I love so dearly, I do try to focus on the positive. 

 Even when the negative seems so palpable and ubiquitious. There are so many things I worry about so often, they sometimes feel as though they're surrounding me on all sides and swallowing up the positive. But I still try.

But on with the adventure, which I'll largely relay with photos because I can't seem to find the words to accurately describe how I feel at times doing some of the things I do. The ups and downs, the extreme elation and gratitude, and likewise the accompanying worry and solemnity that comes with an understanding of ephemerality. 

I will jump in here to explain this photo, but first I need to mention a fun aspect of paddleboarding Florida rivers: snagging your fin on one of the many submerged logs and thus catapulting yourself into the water unexpectedly. Jordan did this twice during the day and it was wonderful entertainment for me. She was a little chilly the second time after we had already been swimming for awhile and the sun was going down, which is when I snapped this gem. I felt bad laughing at her, but in typical Jordan fashion, she was laughing before even hitting the water. And that is one of the many reasons I love her.

Worries aside, it was a truly beautiful day and one that made me genuinely happy to be alive, and I think that's really all that needs to be said. Moments like these are too rare in the hustle and bustle of life, and should always be recognized for what they are and greeted with gratitude.

Now, if anyone's wondering why I was in Chicago of all earthly places for two days last week, it was to see Wait Wait.. Don't Tell Me live, which for those unacquainted (you should be ashamed) is a weekly news quiz on NPR that I absolutely adore. It's been on my bucket list to see it for ages now, but I never thought I'd actually go until Steven booked me a trip to do just that as my Christmas present this year. I thought just seeing it live would be so amazing, but when they called Carl Hiaasen to talk about the python hunts in Florida, I literally jumped out of my seat!

 What a dream! If you've never listened to this show (again, you should be ashamed), you can listen on NPR on Saturdays, stream it from their website, or download a podcast.
(Excuse the iPhone photos, they don't blow up too well.)

 All-in-all, my only interest in Chicago was to see Wait Wait. If I had any expectations of the city beforehand, it was that I'd despise it. I'm not a big city girl and I hate the wind, but I was honestly quite pleasantly surprised. Not anywhere I'd ever want to live, no sir, but much better than I ever expected.

 The only other thing I did in my very, very brief visit was go to the Field Museum of Natural History. Of course. Do you know me at all? It was a dream as well and I truly wish I had way more time to spend there. This is Sue, the largest and most intact T-Rex specimen anywhere, named after the woman who discovered her. It's mind-blowing just to stand in front of something like this and take in the reality of what it is.

 Oh so cold! It was a fun little 30 hour mini-vacation, but I do think this suits me better:


Nova said...

Two things:

One - I also have been enjoying our super mild winter and worrying about it at the same time. It hasn't snowed once and I live in freakin' Canada. Even on Vancouver Island we usually see a few weeks of snow. It's barely raining this January (which is really strange).

Two - Being from Alberta (near Drumheller) I really take dinosaur bones for granted. It's cool to hear somebody speak about them with awe, and then actually imagine the REAL ANIMAL that those bones once were. I am kind of jaded I guess about them, having had too many school trips and weekend trips to the Tyrell Museum. How can a person be blase about dinosaurs for eff sakes? ha

Caitlin said...

Your photos are all so dreamy. I love warm weather and not dealing with the doldrums of a cold winter, but I married a man who wants his future children to grow up playing hockey on icy ponds and we adopted a dog who loses her shit on the first snow EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Le sigh. Chicago is a nice town, huh? I've been there a bunch of times, it's clean and people are friendly, and I find the L relatively easy to navigate.

Dave said...

I need to scratch the itch before Memorial Day.

Wait, Wait is fine, but this Wisconsin boy says they ripped of Whad'ya Know.

Rae - Say It Aint So said...

i looooove wait wait and i'm so jealous you saw a taping! i love says you as well, but i just can't take whad'ya know most of the time. oh npr, you are the best!