Category 5 sun

Word from the major news outlets is that is that we can count our lucky stars that the Tropics are quiet.

At least for the time being.

But there is one star we shouldn’t thank.

Rather, there is one star we should be extra careful about.

That would be The Sun.

Everyone in Florida is afraid of tropical storms, but tropical storms are more miss than hit, and lets face it, their effects in most cases — except for the really chart toppers — tend to be pretty ephemeral.

Compare that to The Sun.
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The first thing I tell anyone visiting Florida is to respect the sun like you might a Category 2 Hurricane churning down in the Caribbean.
No, I don’t mean you need to run out and buy batteries, and no, you don’t need to stock up on cans of sardines (that being said, I am a huge sardine enthusiast); and no you don’t have to rush out and fill your gas tank up, and no, you don’t have to stock up on water ….
Actually, scratch that advice about the water … with The Sun being so strong, you should always be stocking up on the water in Florida. I recommend a solid 8 glasses of water while in Florida, … if not double that.
But back to my point:
I’ve seen too many cases of permanently damaged skin in Florida, even from a single time of over exposure on a boat on a sunny day, not to mention the multi-year exposure cases, not to greet the new arrivals with a proper salutation of:
Welcome to Sunny Florida, … and by the way, watch out for the Florida Sun.”
Not that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
But if my initial salutation fails to soak in, I typically resort to retelling scary (and sometimes true) stories of gaint alligator attacks (on golf courses), python sitings, moccasin bites, storms with 30 ft surges and 150 mile per hour winds, mosquitoes so thick you can’t see in front of you.

But then I cap it off by telling them that all those dangers don’t amount to a can of corn compared to the barrel of trouble that the Florida Sun will get you in.

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I try to avoid telling them to “lurk in the shadows” or to “stay indoors” … although both do work rather well.

But instead tout the advantages of a long sleeve shirt, a full brim hat, or a parasol to keep the sun at bay.

Or as an alternative, lots of sun screen.

And not to use any sunscreens that says “cocoa butter” or “deep tan”.

Another piece of advice is to focus on the edges of the day: morning walks and late afternoon visits to the beach.

Not to mention that the later is an oportune time to see (and photograph) a sunset. As many times as I’ve tried to photograph the sun at high noon, the photos just never turn out as good as the ones I take in the evening where it drops closer to the horizon.

The one downside of the morning and evenings outings?

That would be the mosquitoes.

But that’s another post.

Bottom Line:
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Everyone’s afraid of hurricanes in Florida, but what they should really be scared of is The Sun.

Should Florida be re-dubbed “The Hurricane State” with daily warnings from NOAA about sun intensity?

That seems silly: but the warnings would be extraordinarily accurate!

Homage to the Sun, a sculpture by Wayne Hook, is located in the Town of Naples, at the old City Hall, about a half mile from the Beach. It’s worth a look if you’ve never seen it. I particularly like how the aluminum design lets it reflect the sun and wave in the wind of the onshore sea breeze.

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