This is the time of year in Florida when we get to keep our windows open, or at least we open and close them intermittently. Last night, for example, it got down to 41 degrees (30 if you factor in the windchill), so I found myself shutting them again at 7 a.m. and turning on the heat in the house for a while. And the other night it started raining hard, so my happy, comfortable sleep as I listened to the light patter of drops on a few leaves turned to a panicky 4 a.m. rush for the windows to keep from being drowned.
But the mostly-open windows let me hear things I wouldn’t otherwise hear, like the neighborhood roosters who delight in crowing at night, or the Northern Mockingbird–Northern Cardinal–Blue Jay trio who give me concerts almost daily.
Yesterday I opened my bedroom window quickly and surprised a squirrel who was apparently in the hibiscus bush just outside. He made a gray blur as he dashed to a nearby palm tree, where he proceeded to loudly chastize me with a suprisingly varied vocabulary for a good fifteen minutes.
My neighbors are mostly quiet, but that’s only because Tony’s wife didn’t make an appearance this year. My neighbor across the street, Tony, is a good man, a genial and exceedingly good-looking fellow who is unfailingly helpful and kind to Bill, the infirm old guy who lives next door to me. Tony’s one of the people who have made this area feel like a true neighborhood.
Every November for a least the last decade, a large U-Haul has pulled up at Tony’s home. A houseful of furniture is unloaded; a wife and long-haired miniature dachshund appear. Within three months she is screaming at the top of her lungs, slamming doors, cursing. The U-Haul returns; wife and dog disappear. It’s been an annual holiday tradition. Last year, wife and dog appeared a little ahead of schedule, in October. The dog was a little fatter, and she had stopped dying her hair (it was a mousy brown and gray instead of the brassy Clairol Nice ‘n Easy #103B Natural Medium Champagne Blonde that it was in previous years), but her voice still echoed for blocks.
This year, no wife, no dog. So no Christmas lights either, and no Inflatable Snowman Family, who tended to lose air so they always looked like they were melting. Not a bad effect for Florida, but probably not what the manufacturer intended, and certainly not what the wife wanted, as Tony was screechingly told on a daily basis. Dunno if Tony and wife finally parted ways for good, or if we’ll see yet another attempt at living together later in the season, but it hardly felt like the holidays without their yearly drama.
As a result, the neighborhood is quieter. I can hear wind chimes, the occasional dog barking, the birds. I like open window season in Florida. Even on the occasional frigid morning.