I felt sorry for the palm trees.
This is Florida, central Florida even. Gulf Coast Florida. Maybe even a bit of southern Florida, if you consider how the University of South Florida is in town.
And yet …
It was in the 20s here in Tampa overnight. It was 30 degrees even after the sun was beginning to find its strength during holiday-week rush hour this morning.
The grass was coated with a strange white veil of frost.
So the Nittany Lions are preparing for the Outback Bowl here in a few days, supposedly practicing in balmy Florida and it actually was …
… warmer today at 8 a.m. in Boston (31 degrees) and nearly as warm in York (27 degrees).
It was in the teens north of here in some place with the word “citrus” in the name, if you can believe it. A local TV station showed pictures of oranges hanging on trees, covered in ice.
I attempted an early-morning jog wearing two T-shirts and shorts and made it only about a half-mile before my hands started to go numb.
I turned around and headed for the treadmill in the hotel gym.
It made me think of the stories my grandfather told about growing up in Tampa during the 1920s. His house didn’t have heat.
Which meant that it was too cold to even sleep on those handful of winter nights when the temperatures sunk this low. You simply prayed and waited for the sun to rise and then found a place to curl up like a cat, soaking in whatever warmth you could.
Of course, it eventually started thawing out here today like it always does, the frost disappearing, the sun strengthening.
Kind of felt like mid-April back home, which was pretty good.
But for a while it was hard to fathom that we were really in Florida, numb hands and all.
Hard not to feel sorry for those palm trees, patiently waiting.