When we first moved here in 2004 we were mesmerized by the daily thunderstorms of summer. Big white billowy clouds would appear on the horizon, and then they would suddenly turn grey, and then black. The wind would pick up and the screens on the lanai would begin a chorus of high-pitched whistles to warn us the storm was about to hit. It would rain like the dickens for ten, fifteen minutes or more while tornado alerts would scroll across the television screen, and the golf course siren would caution of imminent lightning strikes. It was always a loud event with the hard-hitting rain on our well-ventilated roofs and the thunder shaking the stucco skins of our houses like big bass drums.
It would end almost as abruptly as it started. The skies would turn deep azure, and there would be the most delicious smell in the air. The wind would settle down, the humidity would quickly dissipate with the help of the ocean breeze, and our gardens would look like they were in a Pixar movie, so green and shiny they seemed to be plastic.
Well, those days are gone and have been gone for almost four years. We’re in a drought, and our water bill is the proof. Now it’s the constant drone of sprinklers day and night. The air has a chlorinated smell from the homeowner’s irrigation systems, and the golf course gives off a putrid smell from the water jets shooting 30-40 feet into the air, the water pulled straight from the half-empty retention ponds that haven’t reached their watermarks for years. From afar these “lakes” look lovely, but upon closer inspection you can see and smell the poor condition of the water.
Rainfall here is very arbitrary. I’ve seen it rain in the backyard while the front hard remains dry. Last week I was at the grocery store waiting out a torrent of rain, but by the time I got home, a mere two miles away, the streets were dry as bones. Two weeks ago we had a dry storm: lighting and wind, but no rain.
There was a story in tonight’s newscast about the absence of spring floods in areas that usually get them because of the low levels of snowfall. I guess that’s a good thing. What am I saying? Of course it’s a good thing. But we’re so dry down here I almost wish we’d get a few days of heavy rain to fill up our ponds, clean our roofs, and bring the water table higher if only to get rid of that nasty sprinkler smell. We’ve had the clouds in the past two weeks, but less than an inch of rain in the past several months.
I believe global warming is real, and Florida is definitely feeling the effects. Our county is still on water restrictions but no one is obeying them because of the thousands of dollars invested in landscaping. It’s all about appearances here. Just another reason to move north.