By Doug Kelly
Okay, okay, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” heads my list of favorite Yuletide songs. But I live in Florida because of snow. I fully admit that snow can be cool: skiing, sledding, ice skating, building a snowman and playful snowball fights. All that’s fun in short doses, but longer stints in the white stuff is precisely why Florida’s population keeps rising like a helium balloon that never seems to burst.
I’ve lived in snow before. Spent four years at an Air Force base in Germany as a kid and graduated from a high school in Wyoming.
From October to March and sometimes beyond, most days and nights featured blizzards and icy roads. Sometimes the snow drifts would be so high it required climbing out a second-story window to access the ground. And I’ll never forget walking into a movie theater one night when 60 degrees and leaving with the thermometer at 28 and dropping – I had to putt-putt home with the car door open to see if still on or off the road.
Another snow story involves teeing off the first hole of a golf course in Cheyenne. After the sixth hole we escaped to the clubhouse. Not only did the temperature drop during that time by 30 degrees and beginning to snow, we couldn’t even pull the flagstick out of the cup because it was frozen solid. A putt would run a few feet, pick up a cartwheel of snow and haltway to the hole flop on its side. Some diehards even played with golf balls painted red so they could be seen in fairways turned into white meadows.
Being a high schooler, it became my chief duty each winter morning to shovel snow off the driveway and chisel ice off the car window. On some nights we placed an oven warmer in the car’s engine to make sure it would start again. And if you didn’t have four-wheel drive, the tires better be wrapped in chains, by gum, unless you like being marooned like a fly trapped in an ice cube.
I’ll admit to one memorable Christmas evening in Germany when snow became partner to an enchanting event. Standing at the base of the stairwell of our four-floor apartment complex at Ramstein Air Force Base, I found myself alone save for a legion of parked cars. Windless, the snowflakes drifted from Heaven as softly as a kiss, alighting on my jacket, hat, face and gloves. In the shimmer of a streetlight, I witnessed individual flakes fluttering in the flurry. In the utter silence, the bevy of flakes created a soft calm that cast a mesmerizing spell on me. I immediately knew this would never be forgotten, even decades later now.
Yes, snow can be special, but as a steady diet? No way, Jose. Give me the sunshine and water instead any ol’ day. Besides, I could always take a trip up north if hitting the slopes gripped me, but these days I’d sooner water ski than snow ski.
Santa may feel out of place at our beach, but I’d stick a fishing rod in his hand and tell him to enjoy Christmas – Clearwater style. After all, at high tide is when redfish, snook and trout prowl the beach drop-offs at high tide – and you can’t spell “Yuletide” without saying tide.
Feature photo by Larisa Koshkina on Pixabay