As I write this in February
it is 81 degrees in N. Fort Myers and zero in
Chicago. I am reminding myself not to call my
boating friends in Chicago, Indianapolis, or Milwaukee
(or anywhere else "up north") and brag
about our Florida weather. I've done that before
and most of the responses can't be repeated. One
friend said, not kindly, "Do you feel better
Now, having grown up in
the Midwest, I know my friends don't consider
themselves victims. Midwesterners exact pleasure
(only, perverse pleasure) out of the fact that
they can survive in a cold clime. In Wisconsin
when somebody asked what we did in the summer,
the standard reply was, "If it falls on a
Sunday, we have a picnic."
That attempt at humor masked
our Seasonal Affective Disorder. That diagnosis
wasn't invented when I was growing up. We called
it The Blahs. Either way, there is a pill that
people from the north have been taking for SAD
for more than a hundred years. It's called Florida
sunshine. Put a boat in that picture. And yourself.
That's the ultimate cure.
Sometimes, of course, sunshine
does not cure The Blahs. In these cases, we prescribe
another pill called Attitude Adjustment. Our kit
of supplies for students at Florida Sailing &
Cruising School includes a bumper sticker - Attitude
is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.
Vic and I adopted it after we heard more than
a few students say things like, "What if
it rains," or "What if we lose the wind."
I tell them, "We don't charge extra for that."
Mother used to tell me,
"It's all in your head." She was right.
Remember the story about the kid who received
a bucket of oats for his birthday? An optimist,
he ran around the house, looking out of windows,
and asked excitedly, "Where's the pony?"
See? It's all in how you look at it. Say you're
on a cruise and it starts to rain. Some will say
to themselves, "Oh darn. It'll probably rain
all day and ruin our cruise." Others, like
me, will say, "Oh, good. Let's anchor in
a cove, listen to the rain, and read a good book."
We are not so much what we eat. We are what we
think. The problem is not always Seasonal Affective
Disorder. It's sloppy thinking.
Still, I find myself hoping
my friends realize they do not have to be trapped
by the weather or thinking patterns. While their
harbors are iced up and their boats are wrapped
in tarps, they can still tend to their boating
addictions in a meaningful way. Hey. Get on a
plane. Fly south. Get on a boat.
Think of it as the marine
equivalent of starting cocktail hour at 5 p.m.
instead of 6 because somewhere in the world it
really is 6 o'clock. Yes, somewhere in the world,
you could be soaking up warm sunshine and floating
on blue water in the boat of your choice.
Come see us. Bring your
children and grandchildren.