Apparently, I now live in the lightning capital of the world. The Tampa Bay area (arguably) boasts the most lightning strikes of anywhere on earth. I can confirm that there has been a lot of the sky lighting up lately. Yesterday there was a lightning strike very near my house and the sound of it was so loud it scared the bejesus out of the cats. They ran first left, then right, scrambling for footing and scratching up the hardwood floor trying to find safety in the new house that no longer has a cool, dark basement to retreat to. (It scared me too but I didn’t run through the house like a stampeding rhino.) One cat has taken to burrowing under the living room rug. Another has decided hiding under the covers on the bed is the securest location. I have a lot of nebulous, wriggling lumps in my house right now. Cat logic is like toddler logic: if I can’t see you, you can’t see me. Maybe they should just cover their eyes with their paws.
But back to the lightning. I did not know that there was so much of it here until recently. There have been a lot of thunderstorms the last week or so. Like daily. It’s weird: It rains every day but it’s sunny every day. I tried to go to the beach last Friday. It was closed. Yes, the Gulf of Mexico was not open for business. Because lightning. I guess I don’t want to get struck by lightning on the beach but it was a bit disappointing to drive all the way there and then get snapped at by a surly lifeguard who looked more like an aging Crocodile Dundee than a primetime David Hasslehoff. Red flag-shmed flag. I want sea shells.
So naturally, my compromise was to come home and go to the pool. It was very relaxing to get in the salt water hot tub for a while and then hop in the swimming pool while it was raining. (Yes, outdoors.) There was no one else there so I had it all to myself. I guess I’m still a redneck slash hick slash bumpkin because the natives here don’t seem to enjoy swimming while it’s raining, even when it’s hot. Or else there is a greater danger from getting struck by lightning in the water than I realize and I am a big idiot. Either way, it was nice. I’ve done it a couple of times now. So far, no lightning strikes in the pool area. Also, no pesky lifeguards telling me what to do.
I didn’t realize that salt water hot tubs and swimming pools were a thing, but they totally are. I have one a hundred yards from my house now, available whenever I want to use them, at least during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Midnight swims are not allowed, sadly. I’m looking forward to using the hot tub this winter when it’s cooler outside (you know, like in the 60s) and the tub is set at 105 degrees. I am curious to find out if the locals use the pool in the winter when they claim it’s “cold” here. How long will it take me to become acclimated and start saying nonsense like “It’s 60 degrees outside—I need a parka.” Admittedly, I am always cold, but I’m also from the Midwest and 60 degrees in the winter is when you get your motorcycle out of the garage and go for a ride, not when you put on long johns.
I plan to go to the beach in the winter. And the fall. And the spring. I plan to visit the beach in pretty much every season and in any weather. In lightning, in rain, in…okay…maybe not in a hurricane, but most any other time. If that makes me a bumpkin, then I accept that judgment and label. I hope I get to see some sand that’s been hit by lightning. It has a name: fulgurite. Google images of that; it’s pretty cool looking.
In summation, I am swimming at my own risk. The cats do not support my life choices.