8.28.2007 | What I learned in Florida

Expect the amazing. At just about any time if you're in Florida and you don't look at the sky at least once, you're missing out. The name "Sunshine State" belies the number of thunderstorms that pass through in this tropical climate, but even in those there is a silver lining — or pink, or orange, or cyan. One day as I drove across the Howard Frankland Bridge over Tampa Bay, a fire-red sunset splashed the dark clouds of a storm front to the east with its hues, which were then reflected on the water below. No single photograph could have captured that immersion of color.

Use hyphens liberally. Common phrases such as "thank-you" and "buckle-up" require hyphens to make them … readable? I never got a reason for that. I did learn, though, that one newspaper here hyphenates dollar figures (e.g. $1-million) because they once did it to prevent the figure from breaking across lines. It just stayed that way.

Move to higher ground. Between hurricane storm surges and the predicted rise in sea levels from global warming, and with insurers abandoning the coastlines, it's a good idea to check hurricane evacuation maps before finding a place to live. But then again, Florida's beauty is such a powerful siren that any self-respecting sailor would be all too glad to be lured into her grasp.

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