Le soleil

When thinking about Florida, what is the elephant in the room? What is the one thing that really matters that everyone forgets to mention?  Is it the charming hotel room? The palm trees? The alligators? Or is it the pretty pool! Or the marvellous beach?  Or the food or the shopping?  No, it’s the sun. The sun is the sine qua non for existence in general and definitely for Florida in particular. It’s the one element which is so beyond our reach as to be totally out of touch but which is always within our sight. It diffuses its rays with such intensity and effect that its proximity is undeniable. Even when sheltered behind the towering mass of cumulonimbus its allure is hypnotic and prepossessing.

Read the first words of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce :

Welcome to your first key in Paradise, the first of the Fabulous Florida Keys and the Dive Capital of the World, where you can kick off your shoes and leave your cares behind. Key Largo is home to the world’s second largest artificial reef, the 510 foot USS Spiegel Grove, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue. The Everglades National Park is just a short trip away by boat or car.

In spite of this list of incomparable attractions it requires but a moment of passing cloud to extinguish the allure of all else in order to revive instantaneously the paramount appeal of the sun.  Florida  – and Key Largo in particular – has about 3,405 hours of sunshine a year.  This translates roughly to over 9 hours of sunshine a day which nicely covers most sun bathing routines especially at 85° Fahrenheit.

Nor is it always like this In Key Largo, the summers are hot, oppressive, wet, and mostly cloudy and the winters are short, comfortable, humid, windy, and mostly clear. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 63°F to 89°F and is rarely below 52°F or above 92°F.

Based on the tourism score, the best time of year to visit Key Largo for warm-weather activities is from mid November to mid April.

Competing with the clear skies and endless sunshine is another annual visitor:

Chaque année, la fin de la saison des ouragans annonce le retour des requins blancs. Ils migrent actuellement dans les eaux de Floride après avoir erré tout l’été au large de Cape Cod et de la Nouvelle-Écosse à chasser le phoque et le thon. Ici, ils se nourrissent probablement d’autres requins. Bien que les requins blancs ne suivent pas tous la même trajectoire, la Floride semble les attirer et il y en a même quelques-uns qui font le tour de la péninsule pour se diriger vers le golfe du Mexique.

Several days or a week ago I encountered a woman sunbathing at the pool.  She was sitting in one of the patio chairs (not prostrate upon a chaise longue). She had the immersion of a woman sitting under a hair dryer. After we exchanged the customary niceties about the weather, she informed me that she devotes no more than 20 minutes per day to sunbathing. I agreed with her.  Her habit was reminiscent of my own back home where, following a cycle about the neighbourhood, I often sat on the garden patio staring at the sun for about 30 – 45 minutes. My instinct here on Key Largo is less restrained.  I find it difficult to resist upwards of 2 hours of the blazing sunshine though I am reminded again and again that it is a mistake. Conditioning myself to be more careful and to apply sunscreen does not come easy to this old fool. I remember almost 50 years ago in Key West devoting myself to the sunshine as though it were a day at the office. And it showed; I ended looking like cowhide! Partly it was the result of lathering myself with oil. Nonetheless it satisfied me exceedingly well.

When I bought my first TAG Heuer watch on Duval Street I recall being sinfully preoccupied with the accessory. It signalled the start of my watch phase. A tan and a bit of glitter went a long way to elevating the trials of the day, having to cycle back and forth from the guest house to the pier.

TAG Heuer S.A. is a Swiss luxury watchmaker that designs, manufactures and markets watches and fashion accessories, as well as eyewear and mobile phones manufactured under license by other companies and carrying the TAG Heuer brand name.

The company began as Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG, founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in St-Imier, Switzerland. In 1985, TAG Group purchased a majority stake in the company, forming TAG Heuer. In 1999, French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH bought nearly 100 percent of the Swiss company.

The name TAG Heuer combines the initials of “Techniques d’Avant Garde” and the founder’s surname.

Late this afternoon not long after my return from the pool the sky suddenly darkened.  Within minutes there was a torrential rainfall.  It has since passed almost as quickly as it arrived. We have returned to the languid sunshine.