I am on a plane on my way back to Los Angeles from Florida.
I spent a good ten days in the random Florida weather. It was all over the place from unbearably-hot-humid-sunny → hot-light-rain → overcast-thunder-lightning → pouring-down-while-I-am-driving-rain →cold-windy-but-sunny → perfect (on the day I flew out).
Florida is the craziest state. There used to be a segment called “Germany or Florida” on the morning radio show I used to listen to every morning in Los Angeles. Someone would read a story about a crazy old man who lived with 300 snakes or a woman who ran her husband over with a car seven times in a hotel parking lot. The three radio show personalities would have to guess whether the story took place in Germany or Florida. There really are enough weirdo things going on between the two places to keep this game interesting. It was never clear to me how serious the crazy problem in Florida was until I moved away. When you live there, you just assume everywhere else is the same, but you are just not hearing about the crazies in other states because they are not local. But when I moved across the country and was still hearing about wacko random news stories that went down in Florida, I realized what was going on. Here are a few of my favorites:
UF Student Tasered at Kerry Forum
Astronaut Charged With Attempted Murder
and so many more...
Don’t get me wrong. I love Florida. I grew up there. It is my home. It is just funny how many ideas people in California seem to have about Floridians (some true some not). I have been asked if I had alligators in my backyard when I lived there. And you know what, I did. At my parents house, there is a little pond with a woodsy area out back, and let’s just say I would never really feel comfortable allowing my little nieces to play out there. Zach wrote a crazy article during his last year in school that referenced some of the crazy things alligators eat…babies are far from being out of the question. I was out for a jog on the sidewalk in the middle of a lightning storm last week, and there was a small alligator staring at me from the water’s edge, about 20 feet away. It doesn’t get much more Florida than that folks.
Obviously, there are not alligators roaming around most residential areas in Florida, but it happens. There are so many idiosyncrasies that I must make another list. Here we go, You know you are a true Floridian if:
1. You can close your eyes during the summer and not be able to tell whether you are in a steam room or just outside.
2. You can name at least 5 notorious serial killers that struck in your state.
3. You know the difference between a chomp and the tomahawk.
4. You feel that it is okay to go out in the lightning as long as there is no thunder within a couple seconds of each bolt.
5. The water at the beach feels more like a mild hot tub and less like the ocean.
6. The north is “The South”.
7. You know there are no beaches in the Florida Keys.
8. You can see the sun rise and set over the water in the same day.
9. It is weird if it rains for longer than 5 minutes.
10. It is weird if it rains only once in a day.
11. Seasons refer to sports not weather.
There is no such thing as “fall” in Florida. I referenced this in a previous post about it “still being summer in Florida”. The leaves do not change colors, the weather rarely cools down, and the people definitely continue wearing white and flip-flops well through the holidays. Floridians are really forced to take things into their own hands.
They light candles, they decorate, they…I mean we… make pumpkin recipes all to feel like we are a part of the fall season. Oh, and because pumpkin recipes are the best.
For the Love of Florida Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(makes 24, recipe from Allrecipes.com)
3 1/3 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
16 oz canned pumpkin puree
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 C water
1 1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat together pumpkin, eggs and water. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture; beat until well blended. Fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Pour batter into muffin tins, filling almost to the top.
Sprinkle 3 to 5 chocolate chips (the remaining 1/2 C) on top of each muffin (this just makes them look nice)
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.