I moved to Florida from Maryland 18 years ago. In fact, by the end of this year, I will have lived in Florida longer than I lived in my home state of New Jersey.
Does that make me a native Floridian yet?
I’m not sure about the time requirement to be considered a Florida native, but there’s another sure-fire test you can use to determine that I have become one – how I tolerate cold.
Now, in most Florida winters, we get a few days of blustery weather that brings some cool temperatures calling. Those days may struggle to get to the 60’s Fahrenheit and can dip into the low 40’s and maybe the upper 30’s.
However, this year has not been typical. Since New Year’s Day, our temperatures have been well below average. In fact, we have recently broken the all time low maximum temperature record this past weekend. The last time our area saw temperatures this cold for this long was back in the late 1980s. We are currently running an average of 17 degrees lower than average for the month of January. (Just a note: This cold stretch has already broken records — with nine consecutive days colder than 60 degrees. The last recorded stretch under 60 degrees for the Tampa Bay area was seven days in 1956)
No, these temperatures are not New York, Chicago or Detroit cold. They are not Minneapolis, Toronto or Stockholm cold. And, they are certainly not Calgary, Moscow or Duluth cold.
But, it’s safe to say that in my home, built to withstand long periods of high temperatures, it’s colder than a well digger’s posterior. It’s colder than part of the thoracic anatomy of a witch. And, yes, it’s cold enough to freeze the spherical objects off a brass monkey.
I had this great weekend of work in the shop planned. I was going to plow through a few projects that have been sitting on the bench for a while and bring them to completion. So, I started my shop day by dressing in clothes that don’t normally get pulled out of the closet. I put on a pair of work jeans, two pairs of socks and my boots. I layered a T-shirt, a thermal woven shirt and hooded sweatshirt over that. I even put on a warm hat I had to buy on a trip to Maryland one February a few years back.
Come heck or high-water, I was going to do some work in the shop.
That’s when I took my first step out. It was bracing.
My shop is normally so hot and humid, I easily move from tool to tool with little or no trouble. Sure, I end up squishing in my boots from time to time, but no big deal. I know how to handle the heat.
But, the cold was so different. Parts of me started to ache shortly after I started working. My hands and shoulders were not used to these kinds of temperatures. I wanted to get a reading on how cold my shop was, so I went inside to get the oven probe thermometer. This sucker has a tremendous temperature range. It can read the internal temperature of a roasting leg of lamb and can also tell the temperature inside your freezer.
I plugged in the probe and turned it on. The reading fell fast, eventually settling at 50 degrees. That’s funny, since the outside temperature never rose above 44 on Saturday. Brrr…
I discovered some interesting things about the shop in the cold. For instance, neither the Titebond III or especially the bottled hide glue flowed freely. In fact, I got to the point where I had to put the bottled hide glue inside the house and let it heat up so I could apply it to a project. And, once I was able to coax out a bead onto the wood, it gelled so quickly that I had to hustle to get the mating piece pressed into place before it thickened to a taffy-life consistency.
As I puttered around the shop, rubbing my hands together to try to get them warm, three thoughts crossed my mind.
- I developed a new-found appreciation for everyone who works in cold climates. While the air conditioner in my shop makes it more comfortable in the summer, y’all must agonize over heating choices in order to just get into your shop.
- As cold as it is in Florida, I’m still looking forward to a warming trend later this week, pretty much ending this record-breaking cold snap for the Sunshine State and bringing us back to more seasonable temps.
- When your shop is that cold, there’s nothing wrong with calling it a day early and coming inside. Working in that kind of cold is one heck of a distraction, and it’s probably better to just get out of the shop.
Once I was out of the shop, I got back inside and warmed up. But, did I stop working for the day? Heck no! I went to my other favorite work room in the house and got busy. There was a refrigerator full of food to cook, and I spent the rest of that day making chicken stock, a pot of soup and a pot roast.
Hey, it helped to keep the house warm!