Falling iguanas

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 It was a tough time in the sunshine state. It turns out that when people go to Florida for a while they expect warmth and beauty, sunshine and all good things. Recently, I was there and got to experience some of the coldest temperatures they have had in a few years.
 Now cold temperatures are not only disappointing for the visitors, but also it screws up all kinds of things that are going on normally in Florida, where people expect temperatures between 75 and 80 during the day and about 65 at night. They can’t go to the beach or eat outside. Let me just say this – that’s what didn’t happen then.
 The cold weather threatened the citrus crops and other things that are growing during this winter in Florida. Trees had to be covered and people had to turn on their heat. When you’re in Ohio you think that’s really funny, but the people in Florida sometimes go a little wacky over cold temperatures. I believe there was a wind chill of around 29 degrees in some places during the coldest part of the night. Some were trying to keep themselves warm with UGG boots and their little furry mink jackets that they brought from the north but rarely get to wear down there.
 So not only were people uncomfortable, but so were the iguanas. The green ones are apparently the worst kind. They were the ones causing the most trouble. Iguanas don’t normally live in South Florida, but came there a few years ago. I don’t know why, but now they are multiplying everywhere and causing an upset to the universe.
 But let’s go back to the weather wackiness in Florida. In Miami they also had graupel, a German word that means the small crystals that form on snowflakes when falling. They sort of melted on the way down because it was over 32 degrees and at first, those in Miami thought they had what might be snow. Graupel is cloudy or white, not crystals like sleet showing up in the air everywhere, which melted as soon as it hit the ground. It was quite a thing for Floridians to talk about that day. And it was only one day, not like Ohio where it carries on for several days or a week.
 So now we had these strange things going on in Florida, but the really wacky thing involved the iguanas. First of all, they are so darn ugly and run like crazy when they are at room temperature.
 Let me just say this – the biggest upset I could see was the falling iguanas. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here we go. When it gets to be cold, like about 40 degrees outside, iguanas respond to their cold-bloodedness. Since they don’t have feathers or fur, it’s hard to regulate their temperature. When the temperature goes down, they shut down and can no longer hold onto trees where they usually live. Oh my gosh … it rains iguanas for a short time. They fall from the trees mostly at night. That’s when it’s the coldest and when you can’t really see them coming at you and that’s when they are the creepiest to me.
 All the inhabitants are warned not to touch them on the ground because it’s most likely they are not dead, just stunned, and will move around once they warm up. A Florida newspaper had published several recipes involving iguanas. Some who were pretty sure they were dead when they fell down made them into food. I believe that means peeling off the scales. I wouldn’t think there’d be a whole lot of meat in each one of these things. I can’t imagine looking at them and then eating them. Would they be any good?
 Seriously, they are so ugly and scary I think they look like they’re clearly from another world. I am totally intimidated by them. Imagine this semi-warm 18-inch body of a reptile falling from the trees! I’m lucky none hit me, but they were lying on the ground in the area. How lovely!
 So, just be grateful. Ohio is cold and we may have to deal with events ike snow, sleet and ice. But we are used to these happenings, not falling iguanas!
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)


The above photo, provided by the National Weather Service – Miami, shows an iguana like those mentioned in the column. The photo accompanied a weather advisory alerting residents in the Miami area that low overnight temperatures could result in iguanas falling from trees. The alert notified readers that the falling iguanas would not be dead, just immobilized due to cold weather.
(Photo submitted)



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