Oh, Florida! Land of sunshine and sea spray, with your miles of beaches and acres of swamp, how I have loved your climate in times both warm and slightly less warm. The bountiful depths of your balmy seas are perturbed only by visiting vagabond hurricanes; your peaceful air troubled only by the wind of mosquito wings; your clouds are as lofty and gray as the pristine God himself. For all the trouble you cause, we love you more and more ardently.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the greatest witness to, and record keeper of, your graceful rainfall, Florida. We are blessed to live in the majesty of the fifth rainiest state in the nation. I am honored to call Miami, the second rainiest U.S. city, my eternally humid home. Water from your skies quenches the thirst of orange groves. It feeds crystalline clear aquifers we drink from. It bubbles up in springs that slink into the swamp and nurse the Everglades. During the worst of your heat and height of your sun, there is no remedy cooler than your afternoon shower, overcast, a glowing gray sheet of shade. As summer rains cede the sky, dusk falls and the sun sets, you rarely deny us a view of heaven, mottled blood red and freckled with bright orange.
Florida! Winter is no match for a foe as warm-blooded as you. You Southern rogue and peninsular rebel! Maps have painted your daring escape from the frigid continent. You have made your home in the Gulf of Mexico — emancipated yourself from that snowy hellscape that would have ensnared your burning spirit. Sister of the Caribbean, you smell more of rainforest than of Southern pride. Daughter of the shallow tropical sea, your crashing waves sound more like a island beach than the cliffs of a Carolina coast. Your sand is skeletons made grain by grain from the tiny animals that make their tranquil home miles from shore. Only a culture warm enough for a reef could make a gift from a grave.
We fear too for you, Florida. The ocean issues a daily threat to subsume your flat surface. Decades yet ahead you may be more reef than pasture. Coral will conquer where cows once grazed. But you seem to weather the changes calmly. Maybe it is not resignation that stills you, but flight that drives you. Florida, you are a schemer and planner. By the hour, you slide deeper beneath a salt bath that eats away at our condominium complexes, rusts our flagpoles into dust and floods our streets at high tide. The rising waters will engorge our canals and choke out our homes like trespassing weeds. We will try feverishly to keep your head above water, but we cannot stop Florida weather once set in motion. It has always been too worthy an adversary. As much as we complain, we don’t really deserve you. If we can’t care for you, we can’t make claim to keep you.
Stephan Chamberlin is a UF political science junior. His column comes out Tuesday and Thursday.