Friday, July 27, 2012

It's Hot

Parfait Friday
I cooked supper tonight. Farm-raised salmon with spices rubbed on and lightly brushed with olive oil, cut up steak potatoes in a light coating of olive oil, a little salt, grated Parmesan cheese, baked on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, simple salad with oil and vinegar. The salmon was cooked in aluminum foil for 20 minutes to keep in the juices. Then we were bad and drove up to the closest TCBY where it's parfait Friday and ordered a pair of frozen yogurt parfaits for desert.

When we went out for the frozen yogurt it was 8:45pm and the temperature was still 90°. My wife and I don't live an exorbitant life style. We try to eat reasonably healthy, which means simple ingredients and small portions, with as little to no industrial food as possible. I don't know where the frozen yogurt falls on the scale of Being Good vs Being Bad, but it's one of those little rewards we give ourselves. After all, parfaits on parfait Friday are just $3 each.

I mentioned how hot it was. Folks expect Florida to be hot, especially tourists. Especially in the summer. If you look at our statistics you find it is hot in the summer. But this year, it's been hotter longer than just about any time in my memory. I'm not a native. I moved to Orlando from Atlanta back in 1984 with my new bride. We lived in a modest rental house in the downtown area for the first year until we found this, our one and only house, in 1985.

When I first moved to Florida it would rain in the summer afternoons between 2 and 3 pm. People at the time remarked you could almost set your watch by the summer showers, they were so regular. That pattern kept up pretty much through the rest of the 1980s, and then began to tape off in the early 1990s. The rain became more erratic, and when it did come, the showers were more intense and lasted longer. Mini dry spells would develop and continue for at about a week, where the sun baked the moisture back out of the ground and the foliage. Driving home today I saw lawns beginning to burn yellow from the intense heat and lack of periodic (daily) rains.

The most frightening period for me was and still is 1998, when nearly all of Florida turned tinder-box dry and nearly burned down. The drought eventually broke and the rains came back, but I still remember the wall of smoke that cut off I-4, looking east, from the 436 bridge as I got off that day. And I could smell the smoke coming through the sealed up air-conditioned car I was driving that day. For year after that I would drive north up I-95 to Amelia Island for summer vacation, and on both sides of the road, sometimes for as far as the eye could see, would stand the burned-out pines and oaks from that period. The underbrush was growing back rapidly, but it was a startling contrast when I firs saw it.

This year, though, is intensely hot. This year feels as bad as 1997/98. We've been breaking heat records in Florida just like around the rest of the country. Here's a disturbing map courtesy of Climate Central (Record Summer Temperatures, By The Numbers) showing nationwide record temperatures for the month of June:
I don't know what the colors mean, I need to email the blogger and find out. I intend to keep track of Florida, as this is the kind of information our future generations will be interested in, if they're still around to care.

I'm taking time out to enjoy my modest life, to savor more of the moments as they come. Moments such as the ability to drive up and eat a $3 parfait with my wife. I feel we really are on the edge of a major event, an event we're not going to be able to do much about if anything. It makes life in these days just that more important to me.


  1. Hi Bill... my wife and I lived in the Orlando area for ten years beginning in 1982. And we've returned at least once a year every year since to visit our daughter and her family. Your observations about the weather ring true. But - here's the thing - the same general trends are true even here in the New York metropolitan area. This is the hottest June and July on record for us. I'm sure at least some of it is cyclical. But there can be no doubt - not with all of the information we have at our disposal - that long-term climate change is well underway. Not as in as "about to happen" if we don't change our ways. But as in "already well underway."

    There is one scientific contingent that believes we've already reached the tipping point - the point at which the change is irreversible and will likely reach catastrophic levels for humans. These people say it may take another 100 years to reach that point but that the change is already irreversible. Perhaps so. But look at what's happening to the nation's breadbasket this year. Of course, it's happened before with the great dust bowl of the 1930's.

    Personally, I'm still betting on the ability of humans to adapt in time. But maybe I'm whistling past the graveyard. The fact that so many humans in positions of power are still in denial - and still have the ability to thwart policy changes - doesn't bode well. But I think you're right to do whatever is in your power to do and enjoy the life you have.

    As an aside, I've been reading your blog for some time, Bill. As a former Central Floridian who still has connections in the area - as well as a fellow photographer - your writings resonate strongly with me. I haven't posted a response until now because I was dragging my feet in joining Google+.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Biro. I write this blog primarily for my own benefit, and in the hope that folks will find something useful as well. I suppose it shows how lazy I am that I'm not writing in a real diary. I keep promising that I'll print everything here to paper and bind it up, but then I never do.

      As for the photography I try to illustrate what I write because I know I'll forget something. And I add photographs to the text because I grew up during that period of Life and Look and Time and National Geographic and all the other glossy photo magazines. It's a way for me to capture a little of that magic, and to provide an individual's view of his small corner of the world.

      Maybe one day when you're back in Orlando we can meet and I can write a small entry about you.


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