My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

Beth Kaplan logo

freezing in Florida

And now for something completely different – I’m in an internet café in Florida. Arrived yesterday to spend a week with my mother and her sister Do, to find Florida gripped by cold. The average temperature this time of year is 74 degrees, the record high is 86, and today, it’s in the mid-fifties, with a sharp cold wind.

When the weather in Florida is bad, it’s as if the giant playground that is the outdoors has been declared off limits. The beach is cold, the gusts of wind by the pool are freezing, and in any case, they have torn down the old house next door to my mother’s place and are building condo’s, with much machinery and noise. I’m glad to see signs of financial life in Florida, I’m sure the work is most welcome for the men doing it, but I’m sorry that the egrets and cranes that used to fish those waters, standing silent and motionless on one leg or moving with immense dignity through the water, have vanished.
It’s a great pleasure, though, to see my mother and her sister still going strong at 86 and nearly 90 – this morning, the usual soft murmuring – “a word for ‘wide sleeves’, but batwing does not fit” – doing the crossword puzzle together, as they have for so many decades. We have a possible activity for tonight: Stuart MacLean was on my plane down, and I just saw in the local paper that he’s doing his Vinyl Café tonight nearby, with the music of Dan Hill. Just the sort of thing to do with two elderly Canadian snowbirds, don’t you think?
Getting to the plane was gruelling, and, I learned from a frequent traveller I chatted with, it’s far better now than it was just after the Xmas bomber incident. Still, they opened every single thing in my carry-on bag and handbag – wallet, makeup, every container – and then tested everything for explosives. I guess on the one hand we should be grateful they’re so thorough – but it seems so absurd. How many middle-aged white half-Jewish Torontonians are members of Al Quaeda?
On the plane I tried to watch movies, but gave up partway through all three – A Serious Man, Where the Wild Things are, and Amreeka. All absolutely depressing, full of angry children, dysfunctionally divorced, helpless, selfish adults, and worse. Perhaps I should have stuck with them, but Wild Things was a marvellous book not made one bit better by the addition of a lengthy psychological introduction or big hairy costumes, I could see that the family in Amreeka was going to get more and more unhappy – perhaps there’s a happy twist at the end, that I didn’t wait to see? Unlikely, but maybe? – and as for A Serious Man, I couldn’t bear one more minute of a nice, passive man being abused, humiliated and tormented. There’s a dybbuk at the beginning – are we meant to believe he’s cursed? Well, I did not wait to find out. If you know how these movies end, please let me know. You’ve saved me a few hours.
Now – to find the New York Times and test the ice-cold American waters. My cab driver from the airport last night was a Haitian called Larry, a wonderfully wise man. He didn’t lose any family in the earthquake but his siblings lost everything. “Americans have no idea how fortunate they are,” he said. “If only they all could spend 2 weeks in a third-world country, they’d think differently. The Republicans are just about selfish corporate greed. Nothing for working people, everything for their big business friends.” Let the Tea Parties grow, he said, so that moderate Republicans are alienated from their party and the whole right wing implodes from within. Something like that. Sounds good to me.



4 Responses to “freezing in Florida”

  1. Mary says:

    I loved Amreeka. I found the ending uplifting because it was people and family being there for each other. There are still problems, of course, because that's life, but there was a feeling of "you're not alone." Now we just need to get the whole world operating that way!

  2. beth says:

    There, you see, Mary, I should have stuck it out. When the boy started smoking dope and getting into trouble with racist bullies, I bailed, because I get depressed by dark messages. But sometimes I bail too soon. Glad there was a happy ending.

  3. Lynn says:

    The problem, though, is seeing a movie on a plane. Movies, like books
    worth reading, call for a little effort. Usually, we're not in that sort
    of mood when we fly. Usually we have already been served all the effort
    we can handle sitting in Economy class. Wedged into a tight little seat,
    battling with the plastic cutlery to make our way through the rubbery
    chicken and a dessert called "creme brulee" on the menu but is nothing
    like any creme brulee we have ever tasted ever before… Then, there are
    the teeny tiny screens upon which we are supposed to view masterpieces,
    the person beside you who is snoring so loud that you can't hear dialogue
    even with the earplugs that have set off eczema in your ears.
    But it's another reason I love flying.
    Just like when I go to the hairdresser's and I get to read "Paris Match"
    and "Gala", air travel is an opportunity for me to watch movies I would
    never dream of paying actual money for. And I adore them. When I have a
    choice, I choose French comic films. Maybe it's the altitude or something.
    Maybe it's the two gin and tonics I've had. (No, no, they haven't actually
    given me two drinks- I'm in Economy after all. But my husband doesn't
    drink- so I get two gin and tonics!) But the movies on the plane are the
    beginning of the holiday for me. I would never choose an "art et essai"
    film. No, no, give me Dany Boon and Thierry L'Hermitte. And don't think
    I'm using air travel as an excuse to expound on a sociological analysis on
    French humour. I am practically in the aisles- so hearty is my laughter.
    No apolgies, no regrets. ON HOLIDAY!

  4. beth says:

    Lynn, I have to tell you, first, I wouldn't have minded some bad creme brulee – Economy on Air Canada now means you can buy a sandwich or eat nothing at all, not even free pretzels. (I, as always, had plastic bags full of food in my handbag. Vache qui Rit and crackers have got me through thousands of miles.)

    And there were no French comic films offered, at least, I don't think so, though I don't know who the gentlemen who mention are and will check on the way back. But perhaps you're right, I'm expecting too much of the flight-film experience and am being too serious. Next time I should watch "Cloudy with Meatballs", which was offered, or the TV show "The Office," and have a laugh.

    Thanks for the tip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.