Speak of Christmas to most Americans and imaginations turn to blustry snowscapes, evergreen trees and families pulling sleds. Coca-Cola Santas, snowflakes falling and Frosty. Sleigh rides and skating on yon farmer’s pond.
Down among the ‘Glades, the holidays are a special set of memories. Santa, sure, but the climate and the culture is wetlands than winter wonderland.
Amid the cypress, Christmas offers a new dimension of experience. Musty scent of dark, damp places. A trickle of perspiration on your temple. Stunning reds and yellows exploding at sunset over the Gulf. Steel drums in the distance bouncing out “Deck the Halls” — followed by “Margaritaville.”
From condo balconies, over marinas filled with sailboats adorned with red & green flickering lights on their masts, we lounge with cool beverages. Under thatched Tiki huts, amid tourists from Duluth and Buffalo, we listen and absorb random talk. We splash in gentle, incoming waves, flip-flops flapping, as we watch a billion stars flicker into view.
In Miami, Orlando and Tampa, lights aglow, the aroma of Cubano sandwiches and guava-filled empanadas, loud hip-hop rocketing out from convertibles and low-riders — and pasty white tourists stare hypnotically at the hustle of the street.
For others, it is small town charm with a tropical flair. Places with names like Cinco Bayou, Wimauma and Okahumpaka. Where families cook crawfish and grouper.
Life is good among the cypress. It is a life that adds a special spin to the writing that magically appears from this special place. And to Christmas.
Happy Holidays to all.