This is going to be difficult, I say to myself as I bundle my shivering body into several layers of clothing, a double hood, neck scarf and my leather gloves. I’m living in southern Florida and I must do all this to take my morning walk. For those of you living in the North and reading this, I know I sound whiney, but I count on warm weather not simply because I’m a wimp about cold but because I set my Eve Apple mysteries in Florida and I come here in the winter to generate story ideas that make my readers think of sunshine, palm trees, and fun, and, well, yes, murder and swamps. It’s nearly impossible to do that when alligators’ noses are poking out of frozen ponds and iguanas are dropping from palm trees. Who ever thought that climate change could ruin my writing career?
I’m at the point in my manuscript where Madeleine’s relatives from Scotland have come to visit. I need to show them what Florida is all about, but I’m having difficulty creating the adventures tourists come here to visit. Wouldn’t it be perfect to have them visit the mouse’s home, fun for Madeleine’s twins and her uncle’s six-year-old grandson, but all I’m getting for a visual image is all of them dressed in fur-lined parkas and boots crammed into one of those teacup rides. Or Pirates of the Caribbean take on the arctic and get stuck in the ice. And Cinderella on parade, her coach drawn by a team of caribou.
Since the book is a cozy mystery I must have a murder or at least an attempted murder or some criminal activity happening, but my brain seems to have created killers and criminals with the same attitude as I have—it’s too cold to be outside killing someone or trying to dispose of a body. My criminals are dyed-in-the-wool Floridians. They commit crimes in hot, humid weather and stay inside until it warms up enough that they know they won’t be tossing a body into a snowbank only to have it melt in a few days exposing their crime. A killer in the swamps expects nature to do most of crime clean up, but if the alligators are too cold to do anything but poke their snouts out of the water then how can you dump a body in one if it just stays there frozen on the surface? Cold weather is not conducive to being a clever criminal if your evil thoughts are frozen before they find their way onto my page of writing.
I’ve turned on the heat in the house hoping the warmth will find its way to the creative part of my brain. It’s sunny outside so that should toast me up a bit, but the cattle egrets outside my window are sitting on the bank of the canal, the cold wind blowing through their white feathers reminding me of Emperor penguins about to make their mating journey. The herons are stepping slowly through the shallow water as if they, too, think it’s almost too cold to dip their feet into. The cattle in the field across from the house have moved into the trees and grouped together for warmth. The pool in our community is an outdoor one. There is no one there. There is a hot tub, but icicles form on your hair when you get out of it and the wind hits. I’m considering going into it and remaining there until the warm air returns next week.
We have had three cold fronts move through Florida in the past month. The last one was during the New Year’s weekend when we took our trip to the beach. The food was great, we saw a fun movie, did some shopping, but we did not go to the beach. I forget what the beach looks like now because it’s been so long since the weather allowed me to visit. We are planning a jaunt to the Keys in several weeks. I expect it will snow there that weekend.
Here are some things I think about while I wait for my brain to thaw:
Hubby and I talked about an electric fireplace when the first cold front came through, but we laughed at the absurdity that another one or two or so would hit us this winter. We should have purchased one when they were available. But hey, right now the window air conditioners are on sale and there are lots of them in the stores.
There are no swimsuits in the stores. Is that because the buyers know more about the weather than we do, or did they sell out early and the stores felt there was no need to order more until it gets warmer?
There are also no sweaters or sweatshirts in the stores except for a few with Christmas trees on them. This I can figure out. They have sold out because of the cold weather. The real question is whether the stores will order more or just wait for warmer weather.
The prices for motel rooms in beach areas is still high. They probably don’t care if the weather is frigid or they are optimistic that it will change. I’ll bet I know the answer to that one.
Meantime Eve Appel and her friends and family will either have to wait until warm weather returns for me to create the heat, humidity and trouble in the swamps they thrive on, or I’ll have to find a way to take them to Vermont skiing. Let’s see: a broken leg on a downhill run or lost in the Everglades? It’s just not the same.
How does the weather affect you?