Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 863 Weather

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

I’ve titled this episode “The Weather”.

Be it a funeral or a football game; a party or a class on cooking; weather is the safe topic to start a conversation. Everyone has an opinion. And it would seem one is as good as the other. It is a topic I try to avoid... but it isn’t easy.

“You never want to let the weather dictate what you do with your life”. That is a line I used to recite to the kids whenever we wanted to go hiking, biking, or skiing. We were living in Alaska and it seemed like weather might matter. But it seemed like the weather would change so much from one mountain valley to another that you could never tell exactly what the weather might be before you actually got on site. The kids seemed to always be content to stay in the house and read or play games and I was always trying to figure out a way to get them out of the house and into the great outdoors. It wasn’t an easy task. The little slogan helped.

Listening or watching weather forecasts are not part of our life habits. I always like to just look out the window or walk outdoors to check the weather personally. We grew up in Iowa and the weather was very important. Farmers are always concerned with the chance of rain, wind, snow, drought or tornados. Their days are lived within the confines of weather daily forecasts, and in many cases, hourly. The morning, noon and night weather and market reports are required information. I suppose it is the same for any profession that is outdoor dependent.

Retirement grants us an opportunity to take a close look at weather and how it might affect our daily lives. Many are the retired people who move miles from where they have worked to live a more comfortable life in their later years. They want to live where the sun always shines. They want to live where they don’t have to shovel snow. They want to live where they can enjoy outdoor recreational activities year round; thus the flight of snowbirds to the south.

The southern edge of America from Florida to Southern California continually blooms as favorite retirement havens. We drove through the south a few years past during the winter and I must admit the weather was nice.  We left in the midst of a snowstorm and within two days were in our shirtsleeves and riding our bikes. Temperatures were comfortable.  But then there is the summer. The temperatures soared to over 100 degrees in the summer. I hate hot weather. I could never ride my bike in those kinds of temperatures.

Weather was one of the considerations when we looked around for a possible move during our retirement years. We wanted a place that did not get too hot – like over 90 degrees, nor too cold – like below freezing. We wanted Goldilocks weather  – something “just right”. Well, I’m not sure it exists. We settled in a place where it rarely gets to 90 degrees and only very rarely gets below freezing. It does reach those temperatures but not often; most of the time it is temperate. The complaint concerning weather in this part of the country is the rain; that and the cloudy days. We’ve learned to adjust and for the most part like our weather.

I have a sister that use to live  in Phoenix and a brother that now lives in Green Valley, Arizona. The summer temperatures hit 110 plus in the summer. They likes it. We met a woman in Sarasota, Florida on our road trip and she loves Sarasota in the summer when the temperature climbs well over 100 and humidity soars and all tourists leave. Does the heat bother these people? Not in the least. They rise early in the morning to run errands or work outside and then hold up in air conditioned homes or buildings the rest of the day. Not a problem. I probably should try it sometime.

I recall driving downtown in Phoenix and Sarasota and seeing few to any people. I guess they drive downtown in air conditioned cars and park in underground garages. They step into air conditioned elevators, offices and stores and are never exposed to the outdoor temperatures.

Our son went to school in Palo Alto, California. When asked about the weather there he replied, “We don’t have any weather here. It is always the same – always nice.” He missed the snow and storms in Alaska. And when he settled into a career it was back in Alaska. I think the weather had something to do with it.

One thing about living in some of the warmer regions of the country that we have noticed is that they seem to be more closely tied to the car culture. They have these wide, straight streets. Cars go fast and they range far. Things are spread out into the suburbs and along the strip. Land was plentiful and inexpensive for development after World War II.  Weather has been combated by air conditioning. I've always said that I would rather be walking or biking in the rain than riding in a car.

I still think the idea of not letting the weather dictate what you do with your life is valid. A person can’t do a lot about it; other than move. Then you get into many other factors that can influence your life. When we looked around for our retirement place we considered: climate, size of community, proximity to large cities, and the presence of salt water and mountains. We also wanted to live in a University town just for the cultural contribution and the addition of young people to our lives. Weather isn’t everything.

This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.

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