As a retired New Englander, one of the most significant mental adjustments to life in Sarasota is that I no longer have to live my life in a race against winter. The tough New Englander will tell you that staying active outdoors in winter is just part of what life is all about. But many of those living in the six New England states hibernate along with the animals. My wife and I were among the latter group and I dare say the majority.
We love the warm months with the pool, walks in the woods and trips to the ocean. For us these activities are best at temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I enjoy outdoor tennis and walks outdoors, but the temp needs to be over 50. Below 50, my wife turns blue and the tennis balls don’t bounce right. I can’t say that I’ve done the survey, but I would be willing to bet that we are in the majority in the greater Boston area.
Just north of Boston, where we lived, the temperature gets over 80 degrees most days for about 10 weeks. You can add another 6 weeks to either side of those 10 weeks when the temp is mostly above 50. So for a total of 22 weeks a year, we have comfortable weather in New England. That leaves 30 weeks a year where we are mainly shut-ins. When you’re working that means that you have 44 days a year that you will potentially enjoy the outdoors. Given the New England weather, a nontrivial percentage 25% to 50% depending on the year of those days will be taken by the rain or abnormal cold. So as a typical New Englander you have between 22 and 33 days a year to really enjoy living life in the outdoors.
With that little time to enjoy the outdoors, every nice day becomes a gift that you dare not squander by lagging indoors. There will be plenty of time to sit in a chair looking out the windows wishing the weather was nicer so that you could be on the other side of the glass. This becomes a race against winter for us less hearty souls. We jam the beaches, the parks, the ice cream stands and the amusement rides for those precious few days a year when the weather is nice enough to get out. But every year come November, the race is lost and all that we have are the memories of living life in the sun.
Today we live in Sarasota where it’s over 80 degrees and sunny almost every day. I’m sure that we will have to endure some days in the 70’s in January and February, but that’s well above the shut in threshold. Top it off with a limited amount of rain and we’ve gone from 10% outdoor days to 90% plus outdoor days.
Now the only problem is we’re still in the racing against winter frame of mind. Mentally we must take advantage of every beautiful day because we are trained to expect that to change. We dutifully watch the nightly weather to see if the temperature will be 81, 82, 83 or 84. Some nights it gets down into the 60’s. As winter progresses we are told it will get cooler, but not much.
I am sure that some aspects of New England’s weather will be missed. The fall foliage, the first winter snow, the flowers poking through the ground in the spring. But we have retired to Sarasota, so I have given that up. The tradeoff is that I no longer am living life in a race against winter. That’s a win in my book.