"We’re breaking out the long-sleeve T-shirts," The Hubby crowed over the phone last week. "And maybe I’ll trade in the shorts for long pants, too."
He guffawed with the smugness reserved for those of us living close to the equator. His amusement, however, was hardly reciprocated. The unfortunate soul on the other end was preparing for a Valentine’s Day weekend arctic blast.
Not to be outdone I took a selfie and texted my son. "Look what you’re missing," I wrote gleefully.
In New York City, where he works and lives, the mercury plummeted to single digits. In Miami, the high climbed to a sweet 70, maybe a couple of degrees cooler inland. Chamber of commerce weather, in other words.
Nanee nanee boo boo.
Yes, yes, of course I know it’s neither kind nor mature of me to openly delight in the gift that is sunshine. Tsk, tsk, cluck, cluck, and all that. Oh, but how I love the balmy winters of my hometown — the cloudless sky, the crystalline air, the flowers in bloom, the barbecued dinners outside — when the rest of the country is shivering in their long johns.
This is the season when I’m drawn to The Weather Channel as an addict to a drug, the one time of year when I check my smartphone daily to keep abreast of what’s happening north of the Florida state line. Gosh, I feel so fine, so very fine, with the windows open to the sounds of palm fronds ruffling in the breeze and a neighbor mowing the lawn.
The cities I prefer to target are those where relatives live, frigid places where nobody has seen green grass in a good long while. New York, of course, but also Chicago and D.C. Philadelphia, too, where a childhood friend — a native Miamian, no less — has made her home since graduating from college. Can’t help it, but the February temps in these towns spark a certain snarkiness in me.
"Fifteen at 9:35 in Chicago," I’ll report aloud to anyone who will listen. "Twenty in Philly but feels like 6."
To the untrained eye it may appear as if I’m bidding on commodity futures. I might as well be. Surely there’s a correlation between brutal winters and the number of people who relocate south the following year.
In my communiqués north I prefer brevity, the better to pack a punch: Cold enough for you? Occasionally one cousin or another will reply with a photo of icicles hanging from a back porch like stalactites in caves. Mostly, though, a thundering silence travels the icy distance. I get it: the ribbing grows tiresome when your lips are perpetually wind-chapped and the family sedan is buried under a mountain of snow in the driveway.
Weather used to be one of those subjects you could talk about at any time, the go-to subject in awkward social situations. No longer. The topic is now fraught with pitfalls. Comment on a cold winter and someone will invariably argue that this year’s blizzards prove there is no global warming (they don’t). I’ve also seen weather news start fights over why we in South Florida pay more for homeowners’ insurance than the recently pummeled Northeast (not always).
I avoid serious climate subjects, though. Polar vortexes, clipper systems and nor’easters tend to inspire an uncharacteristic frivolity instead. For me cold weather is all about swank and swagger, about flip-flops in January and long evening strolls in February. It’s not like I get many chances to feel I’m one up on life, after all.
Follow Ana on Twitter @AnaVeciana.