The Summer Of My Discontent
And it's just a box of rain, I don't know who put it there, Believe it if you need it, or leave it if you dare. And it's just a box of rain, or a ribbon for your hair; Such a long long time to be gone, and a short time to be there. Grateful Dead
By Randall Grantham Community Columnist
Has global warming, or “climate change”, returned the Florida of my youth?
As you can’t help but notice, the weather this summer has been miserable. Hot, hot days. Rainy stormy afternoons and sometimes entire weeks. As someone with several chunks of metal and implants in my body, I might notice this kind of stuff more than others.
The artificial hip joint can stiffen hours, or even days , before a major system moves in. And the newly attached ankle pins and plates seem to ache a little more when it gets rainy. Rust? I thought they used stainless steel for those things. At least the little bits of titanium in my head aren’t giving me fits.
But that’s not what I’m feeling. I’m feeling nostalgic.
When I grew up here, around the central Gulf Coast of Florida, this is the way I remember it. Storms so bad the electricity would go out for hours, sometimes days. The wind would howl and the limbs would bend and break. We would be hunkered down in the house with no electricity, eating the ice cream, in the light of kerosene hurricane lamps, before it all melted.
Come light of day, we would have to go out and pick up all the Spanish moss that had been ripped from the cypress trees in the yard. We would have 5 or 6 piles of moss and limbs, all taller than me, as a child, and full of red-bugs (chiggers, to you yankees).
Then, for fun, we would not just stomp through the puddles, we’d wade through the ditches and swales that would hold the storm water for a week or more. We would catch baby catfish in the swamp overflows and even minnows in the ditches.
How the minnows got there, I’ve never determined. The ditches weren’t connected to the lakes or ponds and I’ve been assured by my scientific-minded friends that neither the minnows, nor their eggs, were evaporated up into the clouds, before being returned to earth in the storm.
Eggs attached to the legs of wading birds? Johnny Minnow-Seed? I still don’t know.
And it wasn’t just a big storm or two every couple months. It was like clockwork, these thunderstorms. Much as we’ve had lately, the storms would roll in with clockwork-like reliability. I well-remember, everyday towards the end of the school year, anticipating a refreshing swim in the lake as I sweltered on the school bus ride home, only to be repeatedly and disappointingly hit by lightning storms that prematurely drenched us and prevented that long-anticipated dip in the lake.
As I aged and Florida grew and changed, the weather did too. We’ve had not only an over-all warming as the years passed, but also more and more droughts and dry seasons and water restrictions. The lakes that I grew up around struggle to maintain their depths. Ditches and retention ponds became empty and sandy.
Some blame global warming. Some blame over-development. Others blame ill-conceived drainage plans and re-routing of natural water flows.
Now, whatever the cause, the water is returning. Whether it be an unanticipated result of climate change or a fluke of nature, it’s wet.
Yes, it’s summertime and the ditches are full, the lakes are rising and the mosquitos are swarming. But, it won’t be the Florida that I remember as a youth until the wash pan water in the hunt camps of the North Florida woods starts freezing-over in the winter, so as you have to crack the ice to get to the water to splash your face in the morning. Now that’s a refreshing thought!
(Randall C. Grantham is a fifth generation Floridian and lifelong resident who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz . He can be reached at LutzLaw@aol.com. Copyright 2012 RCG)