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I took Melissa and our cat Edgar Allan to visit her parents in South Carolina. Meanwhile, Nova Mae and I continued to Florida. I've been trying to get down to Tampa to help my cousin with some house repairs. However, being one who enjoys cold weather much more than hot, I did not want to work in Florida in the summer. So, December is a good month for a northern Minnesota man to visit Florida. However, the southern climate and lifestyle differences still required some acclamation, even in the winter.
We were driving in South Carolina when I smelled a sweet fragrance in the air. It was a familiar scent, but I couldn't place it for sure. Finally, as we came around the corner, I blurted out, "Look, honey! That guy is mowing his lawn! It's December; where's his snow blower?" Minnesotans are not ccustomed to seeing people cutting grass in December.
In Florida, the daytime highs were in the upper seventies and lower eighties, and it was humid. A little too warm for my liking, but the local folks thought it was great. I shouldn't complain; we were working in an air-conditioned building. I learned to adjust quickly and found the cool nights quite pleasant.
The neighborhood was different at night. The cityscape lights reflected on the calm bay water. Boats decorated with Christmas lights passed quietly, and cool breezes came in from the Gulf of Mexico. Nova and I only take short potty walks during the day. Then after the sun set, we’d take advantage of the cooler evenings for our two-mile walks. The night walks are full of adventure.
We were walking through the quiet residential area when Nova suddenly started hopping around in the grass, tugging and pulling on her leash like a crazy dog! At first, I thought maybe she had seen a rattlesnake or something. But, then, I nearly died laughing when it occurred to me what was the matter.
The neighbor's lawn sprinkler systems came on, startling Nova Mae. (They water their lawns at night so they can mow them during the day. Go figure.) The sprinkler heads are very low to the ground, so the blades will clear them when mowing. The heads on the sidewalk's edge are aimed at the lawn, so I didn't get wet. However, Nova, walking in the grass, caught the full spray from many directions. I don't know why it alarmed her as it did.
We've used a squirt gun or spray bottle at home to train Nova. For example, if she tries to eat the sunflower seed in the bird feeder, we will give her a squirt of water. Unfortunately, that training method was short-lived. Nova soon learned to lap the water stream in midair with her tongue. She was just as quick to try catching the water from the sprinklers.
By the third night of walking, Nova anticipated the sprinklers coming on. She would run and play in the water as if they had been activated solely for her enjoyment. Nova is an intelligent dog who wasted no time locating the source of the water. She would snap and bite at the water from the sprinkler head; sometimes, stomping them with her foot.
Placing her foot on the water head would change the direction of the spray. I'd been soaked more than once due to Nova's antics. I think she was doing it intentionally. Last night, she got me again: "Come on, Nova Mae," I complained, "You're getting my pants all wet!"
Nova laughed with vengeful delight, “It’s not so funny when the spray bottle is in the other paw now, is it?"
I ordered her, "Nova Mae! Leave it!"
"That's right," she said while adjusting her foot to continue sending showers of water my way. "Go for some more of that irresistible sunflower seed, Dad." She was having the time of her life. Just then, the sprinkler system shut off.
Nova looked as if she'd seen a ghost. "Uh-oh," she said, then ran away from me, knowing her water gun was out of ammo. When she reached the end of the leash, she jerked the handle out of my wet hand.
The hard plastic handle bounced and skidded across the sidewalk as the leash recoiled to her, standing in the wet grass. I growled, "Nova, sit!" The canine sat while I walked over to pick up the dog leash.
The lawn was saturated, and I could feel the water seeping into my mesh-top tennis shoes. I was soaked from head to toe. The night temperatures were in the low sixties, and when you're wet, that's cold – even in Florida.
I couldn’t stay mad at Nova; she was just having fun. Finally, I picked up the leash handle from the grass and gave her a rub on her wet head. "Come on, you goofball. Let's go home." With each step I took, I could feel the water sloshing inside my shoes, gushing between my toes.
I enjoyed the Christmas lights on different houses as we walked toward the apartment. They were pretty, but to me, they're just not the same without snow. So, I started singing, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten, and children listen, to hear sleigh bells in the snow…."
Back at the house, I dried Nova with her towel; then, I took a hot shower. I stood under the showerhead, thinking about the people watering their lawns. It still seemed odd to me to be running lawn sprinklers in December, but this is Florida – not Minnesota.
Ah, Minnesota; home. Suddenly I felt lonely, maybe a little homesick. So, I started singing again because everyone sings in the shower, right? "I'll be home for Christmas; you can count on me. Please have snow and mistletoe and presents under the tree…."
In a week, Nova and I will head north. First, we'll pick up Melissa and Edgar Allan in South Carolina, then drive to Minnesota; it's the better share of two thousand miles from here to home. I smiled as it occurred to me: Minnesotans also use lawn sprinklers in the winter. But we don't use them to make the grass grow.
Driving on I-35, just south of the twin cities, I pass Buck Hill Ski Area in Burnsville, Minnesota. They frequently have their giant sprinklers running to make snow.
Snow is a meteorological phenomenon that has a powerful effect on everyone. Minnesotans like it so much that we use lawn sprinklers to make more snow for playing. Meanwhile, many people migrate to Florida (and other southern states) to escape the snow.
Without snow, Floridians are forced to use their lawn sprinklers to grow grass because they apparently like mowing their lawn all year. But, Florida lawn sprinklers are also a great source of evening entertainment for crazy dogs visiting from Minnesota.
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