Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Um . . . This IS Florida, Isn't It?

I live in Florida, where this morning it was 32 degrees . . . Fahrenheit. And I don't believe that even took into account the wind chill factor.

Last night we had our first freeze warning of the season, so I tried to cover our hibiscus plants. We have one hibiscus tree next to the front walk that blooms ruffled, multi-colored blossoms, and two bushes at the corner of the house with huge, red and yellow flowers. A year ago I used old twin sized sheets with cartoon characters from Baby Bear’s bed to cover these plants, but no matter what I did to secure them, the wind blew them off. Fortunately the bushes came through with those flying colors of red and yellow, but the tree has struggled since last year’s freeze, and Mr. Lucky talks of replacing it with something else, though he hasn’t decided what.

The bushes, in fact, have grown and thrived so well in the past year, that last night I had to pull out the floral print king-sized sheets in hopes of covering them. But that blasted, biting wind blew the sheets off even as I tried to drape them over the hibiscus.

Mr. Lucky told me to forget about it. No doubt he wants to replace those bushes, too, just on general principle. He loves changing and replacing things just on general principle. Heaven help me if he ever thinks of replacing me.

(On the other hand, heaven help the replacement who thinks she can deal with him and Baby Bear!)

The hibiscus bushes survived the night again, none the worse for wear, but what about tonight? The weather guy said something about a “hard freeze” warning, as opposed to the mere freeze warning we had last night.

In the meantime, on MLK day, we took Baby Bear to Apollo Beach, along Tampa Bay. We were all bundled up in long pants and zipped up jackets, and I found myself wishing for one of my old knitted, hooded scarves I wore two decades ago in Germany, to wrap around my head, but they’re buried in a trunk somewhere out in the garage.

There was neither a Speedo nor a thong in sight on that beach. Aliens landing their spacecraft on one of the dunes wouldn’t have guessed it was the balmy Sunshine State, and surmised there was something screwy with their navigational system. I was reminded of the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where he burrows out of the ground in his swimsuit shrieking, “Miami Beach at last!” only to realize moments later he’s above the Arctic Circle, and probably should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Indeed, everyone at this beach was bundled up as if on a polar expedition.

And they weren’t all locals, either. One lady stood at the water’s edge repeatedly proclaiming to her husband, “That must be St. Petersburg over there. St. Petersburg is the one with the dome. Tampa doesn’t have a dome.”

Definitely from out of town; in fact, I would wager from out of state.

Yes, it was a clear day and sweeping our gaze from right to left, we could see the skyscrapers of Tampa; MacDill Air Force Base where Mr. Lucky served his final years in the military; the city of St. Petersburg with the distinctive dome of Tropicana Field; and farther on the horizon, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Baby Bear loved running the length of the beach. Fortunately, he showed no interest in plunging headlong into the water, which was a concern of mine when Mr. Lucky suggested we visit the beach.

Perhaps even our Bear knows when it’s too cold.


Wendi said...

It is freezing isn't it??? I've been covering as many of my plants as I can, but I don't have enough sheets and old table cloths to cover them all. I lost two banana plants and a least one small palm tree last night during the "hard freeze." The bananas will probably come back, hopefully the palm will too. I'm on my way out right now to cover them all up again.

Will somebody please remind Mother Nature what Florida weather is supposed to be like???

Karen Lingefelt said...

Wendi, I'm sorry about the plants, especially the bananas--we had a banana tree when we lived in Seffner, and I thought it was so cool to be able to say, "We have a banana tree."

I hope your plants rally. My hibiscus bushes are still all right, but I'm afraid that tree is doomed.