Down-home Parables

A Blog by Richard Wayne Fry

Snow In Florida!

Snow In Florida
There are a number of two-word combinations that just do not go together. God & evil, Hillary & beautiful, flip-flops & stylish. Even though it is not at the top of the list, Florida & snow is right up there.

The very idea of snow in Florida seems ludicrous because, well, it is a ludicrous idea. After all, Florida is the Sunshine State. It is not like MinnieSoda. They expect snow nearly 300 days out of the year. But when we here in Florida get snow, it is a statewide emergency.

To begin with, the day prior to the snowstorm, the temperatures dipped into the mid 20’s. No snow, just cold. The schools were closed. Can you believe it? So all the children in Escambia, the county, were as happy as a hound dog licking clabber out of a jug. But the best was yet to come.

Now, while Florida & snow do not normally go together, “snow & stupid” are like Siamese twins. Prior to the snow we had rain. And with the temperatures as low as they were, that rain quickly froze. Around here we call frozen rain “ice.” And these poor native Floridans know absolutely nothing about driving on ice. For the most part those people stay inside and do not make any pretense about being able to drive in the snow and ice. But for those others, well, that is when the accidents started happening. And there were a goodly number of them.

Along with the accidents came a number of power outages. At first they were repaired rather quickly, but the magnitude of outages soon resulted in longer and longer delays in the power being restored. We were without power for about two hours (among the first of the outages), others were without power for more than a day. The first shall be fast, and the last shall be worse. All of this brings me to my two “encounters” during the Florida snowfall of 2014.

Numero Uno

We had been experiencing freezing days and, as a precaution, I would run the pool pump all night to prevent freezing. I would go out in the evening before it got down to freezing and turn the pump on, setting it to run all night and into the next morning. Night after night I went out to be the sole participant in this ceremony.

On the day of the snow, it dawned on me that it was freezing and I HAD NOT TURNED ON THE POOL PUMP! Instantly the prayers flowed from my lips as I quickly made my way to the pump to turn it on. As I rounded the corner of the house, I heard the soft purr of the pump’s motor. WOW! This prayer stuff is great. Note to self, “Pray without ceasing!” Someone really should have mentioned that before.

Approaching the pump, I lifted the lid to the controls and, much to my surprise, the LED message read, “Cold Weather Cycle ENABLED.” I felt like a guy who just got caught signing to the blind; what a bonehead. The pump is equipped with a cycle for freezing temperatures. It automatically turns on when the temperature gets to 34°F. I still believe prayer is a worthwhile endeavor and I am going to continue in it.

Numero Dos

First came the freezing rain, followed quickly by snow. Being born and raised in Illinois, I know snow. I learned to drive in snow. Snow is why I moved from Illinois. But, to Floridians, snow was right up there with the virgin birth...a genuine miracle of the first magnitude. I digress.

Two days after the snow, I was working in my office and heard the pool pump struggling. I got up and went outside to check on the situation. The pump was having a difficult time, so I went to check the skimmer basket. It was completely choked off with leaves. You could not have gotten another leaf in there even firing it with a canon.

I also noticed that the Polaris was hung up on the steps of the pool. I decided to go extricate the Polaris before dealing with the leaves in the trap. I did not want to get my hands into that cold water any sooner than I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO. In my haste to get over to the Polaris, I failed to notice the patch of crystal clear ice on the sidewalk. When I stepped on that ice, my foot instantly went out from under me. Somewhere in the distance, a dog barked.

It is amazing how much information can be processed in one (1) second. From the instant my foot slipped, I knew I was going in the pool. To know me is to know my dread of cold water. I will not even think of going swimming if the water temperature is below 82°F. But I was immediately resigned to the fact I was going in the water; COLD water.

As I was going down, my concern was not to stay dry, but to stay alive. The way I was falling was going to result either in me hitting my head or hitting my ribs on the side of the pool; neither of which was appealing to me. I swung my left arm down as quickly as possible in an effort to push myself even more quickly into the frigid arctic waters of the swimming pool. This effort paid off, a sprained wrist notwithstanding. Head and ribs in tact, my only thoughts now were of the searing pain of the icy water. Upon landing in the liquid ice, I took in a little water, not enough to drown, just enough to choke me a bit.

Making my way to the steps, I had sufficient mental resources left to extricate the Polaris from the steps (you may recall that is what got me here in the first place). Sweatpants and shirt totally bagging and saturated with water, I lumbered up the steps. I knew I still had to turn off the pump in order to vacate the leaves from the skimmer trap, so I headed that way. The wind was blowing and I was “painfully” aware of it. I turned off the pump and began plodding my way to the house. I knew my daughter was in my office, which is just off of the bathroom, so I would be forced to traipse, soaking wet, through the house. Oh! For the record; the pool temperature was a sweltering 42°F.

Passing my daughter, I invited her to leave the proximity with one gentle word, “OUT!” The next 10 minutes were devoted to thawing my now semi-rigid body. Upon emerging from the shower, my daughter, now very concerned about the entire ordeal, said, “You got the floor all wet!” She is most observant. I mentioned that I was wet because she was home. Had she been at a friends, or shopping, or, better yet, on some missionary journey with Teen Challenge, I would have been able to strip off naked at the back door and not gotten water all over the floor.

I am quite thawed now, and if I never see another flake of snow it will be too soon.
Richard-Wayne: Fry

Hebrews 2:10

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