Mankind has proven to be a creature that can adapt to a variety of circumstances and environments. We have thrived in the frozen outreaches of the Arctic Circle, the steamy jungles of South America, and the hot arid stretches of the earth’s deserts. Then there are other spots where Mother Nature throws everything at us, and yet we insist, perhaps out of sheer stubbornness, to stay and brave the elements.
Take Florida…please! (ba-dum ching!)
While serving in the Navy in the 1950s, my father was stationed briefly in the Sunshine State. He found the environment inhospitable. The weather was too hot, too humid, and the insects, particularly the cockroaches, were huge! My family does not do too well with humidity. Personally, I’m ambivalent towards huge insects, until they start insisting on cutting social programs without raising revenue, at which point I look for a large bug swatter.
The one time I was in Florida, I had a severe head cold, possibly running a fever. I spent a day in the Orlando area where I found the local rodent population to be larger than usual. Never mind the cockroaches! They seem harmless when you’re confronted with mice that are six feet tall and know the English language!
Florida just seems to be alien to human cohabitation. No less than 43 hurricanes, the violent rain and wind storms which destroy property and lives, have hit Florida between 1851 and 2004 (Source: National Weather Service). The alligator roams much of the state’s swamp areas; they are huge and usually very hungry. The state records the highest rate of alligator attacks per capita: 18.943 per 1 million people. (Source: Some other web site which I neglected to write down.)
Now, even the earth itself is making living in Florida difficult. The tragedy in Seffner last week, when a man fell to his death when a sinkhole opened beneath his bedroom, has raised awareness that many parts of the state have a soft limestone soil which is easily washed away by water. Many Floridians are literally living on top of a disaster waiting to happen.
Even worse, nature does not give mankind any warning about sinkholes. In other parts of the world, when tectonic plates shift, the earth moves and people know it’s time to seek shelter. I don’t think the sinkhole phenomenon gives any warning at all; perhaps a slight tremor, a rumble, and the disaster is complete.
It would seem that Florida is just not a good fit for us.
All of these natural occurrences — the storms, the gators, the holes — are amazing in of themselves, but what is more amazing to me is people’s reaction to them. They are not fleeing for the safety of Georgia or the Gulf Coast states; they are staying put and going about their everyday lives as if nothing happened! Extraordinary!
And this is just the natural disasters; man makes his life difficult for himself. Consider last November, when people waited forever (and I’m not exaggerating, I do mean time into infinity) to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. An earlier voting turmoil led to political disaster, namely the George W. Bush presidency (2001-2009).
Okay, granted, there are some nice things about Florida. One city, St. Petersburg, has allegedly 360 days of sunshine per year. I say allegedly because the website from which I gleamed this factoid (again, I neglected to write it down) used the word “purportedly” to describe the number of sunny days. I also hear the views of the sunsets at Key West are to die for. Unfortunately, to get to Key West, you have to traverse miles of hurricanes, gators, and very deep potholes. The view better be worth it.
Then, of course, there have been recent political developments that may explain the shifting limestone. Republican Governor Rick Scott recently reversed course on accepting the Obama administration's expansion of Medicaid. Earlier he was against it; now he will accept the federal government’s 100% funding of the expansion. No wonder the earth moved…
So, Florida residents, if you really love your state so much that you can put up with the natural peculiarities within your comfort zone, then more power to you. As for me, I am comfortable with the more temperate regions of Pennsylvania, where we have flowers and sunshine in spring, hot and sometimes humid conditions in summer, colorful leaves in autumn and…oh, yeah, snow and ice in winter.
I forgot about the snow and ice.
(Thank you for reading. Eww, snow and ice!)