Mannix About Manatee: Brutal winter chilly reminder of our good fortune

January 5, 2014 

Packers 49ers Football

James Diedrick helps clear ice and snow from the seats at Lambeau Field on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis., in preparation for Sunday's NFL football wild-card playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

MIKE ROEMER — ASSOCIATED PRESS

It was summertime, the temperature was soaring and the humidity clung like a wet blanket.

Just another August day in Florida.

A colleague, overhearing our griping about the weather, sagely put it all in perspective.

This, he said, is our penance for not having to shovel snow up north in wintertime.

The words were spoken years ago, but I've remembered them ever since and think of the truism during days like these. Seeing the endlessly brutal weather battering the rest of the country, particularly the Northeast and Midwest, is a sobering reminder of how good we've got it here.

The 40s and 50s we got Friday and Saturday with 30s ahead are just a brisk change of pace compared to what other folks are dealing with.

To wit:

• 2,300 flight cancellations on Thursday, including five at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

• 18 to 21 inches of snow fallen on portions of upstate New York and Massachusetts and more on the way.

• Major roadways shut down because of the blizzard with stalled traffic practically buried.

• Single-digit temperatures across most of the U.S with the wind-chill factor plunging them 10-below zero and colder.

• A Nor'easter whipping up a storm surge that pounds an already frozen New England coastline.

Winter storm Hercules?

The only named storms we care about are during hurricane season, but this gets your attention, even from afar.

How many of you got texts or Facebook postings from family and friends up north that went something like this "-2 degrees, feels like -12"?

Hey, once it gets below zero, freezing is freezing.

Evidently there are limits for historically loyal fans of the Green Bay Packers. The NFL team had trouble selling out Sunday's home wild-card playoff game to ticket buyers accustomed to the arc

tic conditions at iconic Lambeau Field.

But -50 below with the wind chill?

It's not called "The Frozen Tundra" for nothing.

Weather like that is what made many of us move to a place with weather like this.

Me included.

Twice.

Spring break, March 1971, I was standing on the balcony of our oceanside hotel room in Daytona Beach, gazing in awe at the sun, sand and surf. I was a Bowling Green State University senior, and I'd had it with Ohio winters.

I made a decision.

Florida is for me.

Nine months later, I started a newspaper job in Homestead.

The second time was a few years after my dad had died and I tried to find a job closer to my family in South Jersey. I spent 2 1/2 years in Rockville, Md., with the Montgomery County Recreation Department.

The gig was fun, but the icy winters were not.

Then one February weekend in 1977, I was watching a tennis tournament on TV, the old Pepsi Grand Slam in Boca Raton.

Blue skies.

Seventy-five degrees.

Palm tree fronds glistening with sunlight.

Got to get back to that, I said. Six months later I was.

For good.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.

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