Despite temps in the low 80's and balmy breezes off the Gulf, despite my indolent lifestyle and occasional over-indulgence in just about everything, this Florida retirement gig is not all it's cracked up to be. You should understand, for instance, that as I sit here on my new lanai, slaving over a hot keyboard, the vicious Florida sun is shining in my eyes. Really, it's hard to make out the screen. But I persevere, mostly as an exercise in persistence.
Here are a couple of Florida facts that will warm the toes of northerners who just got whacked with another half-foot of white and sparkly. First off, my lanai is under a live oak tree. No, not the opposite of dead oak, but a nasty species of oak that seemes eternally confounded by the fine weather. Northern oaks know enough to shed their leaves in the fall with a thud, so you can rake them and haul them away in a single outing. Maybe two. Okay, red oaks, maybe a little cleanup in the spring. Still, that's a civilized way to run a forest.
The flummoxed oak in what I jokingly refer to as my front yard tinkles leaves constantly, all year. Or close enough. They tinkle on my roof, the roof of my new lanai. My lanai where I celebrate my indolence with a cold glass and keep sunglasses handy. Tinkle. Tinkle.
The roof of my lanai, like everything else on the property, is made of aluminum, except of course for the wide expanses of bathtub caulk that hold the place together. If you have not heard oak leaves tinkling on aluminum, then you have no firm grip on the concept of annoyance.
To say nothing of acorn season, which lasts six months. Acorns don't tinkle on aluminum. They clang like Big Ben on Ritalin. Do you know how many acorns fall from a good-sized live oak in heat? I do.
The oak trees are not the only airborne threat to my peace. My aluminum-clad lanai provides a runway for rutting squirrels taking off and landing. Squirrels, like oak trees, are in rut all year long. A bonding pair of half-pound squirrels hustling over aluminum can be deafening. Like living in a giant squirrel-powered snare drum.
My father-in-law down the street came back from the war (The Big One, W-W-I-I), with a small arsenal of portable weapons of localized destruction. I know where he keeps them. Push me hard enough, damn squirrels, and I might just start blazing away.
So, Gentle Reader, before you move to Tampa Bay, mull over the cacophony you might face on your lanai. Tinkling and clanging and snare-drumming, I must tell you, are crappy conductors of indolence. And then there's the possibility of a rain of shell casings pinging off the roof.