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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022 3 months ago

Spring has sprung on Longboat Key

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Temperatures rise, flowers bloom and sunburned tourists appear.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

We’ve sprung forward, the Longboat Observer has done the April Fool’s issue (if you see people looking fooled, play along, huh?), and temperatures are on the rise. No matter what you use to mark the changing of the seasons in Florida, it’s undeniable: Spring has sprung.

No, we don’t have melting snowdrifts, April showers or a genuine unbridled happiness at rapidly rising temperatures, but spring still shows its face on Longboat Key. Although it can be tough to notice the subtle shift from “warm” to “pretty hot,” here’s how you know that the weather is changing around here. 

 

Blooms abound 

Spring and new life go hand in hand. As you drive down Gulf of Mexico Drive, you might notice flowering trees on the sides of the road. Florida is never really not green, but lately it’s been extra verdant on the Key with yellow flowers from Tabebuia trees, pink bougainvillea and creamy magnolias. 

On a drive back from Sarasota one morning, Longboat Key Garden Club President Susan Phillips made a mental list of everything she saw in bloom. By the time she got back to Town Hall, her list included orchid trees, geraniums, hydrangeas, royal poinciana, azalea, dogwood, frangipani, hibiscus and bird of paradise. If you take a walk in Joan Durante Park in the next couple weeks, you can see some of those, like orchid trees, frangipani and hibiscus. The latter two are easily recognizable by their quintessential tropical look — just seek out the brightest, pinkest blooms in the park. 

 

Temperatures tick up

On St. Armands Circle, the outdoor dining heaters are being wheeled to the sides and shop doors are swinging open. Warm breezes have replaced the chilly ones of January and February, and even though the mornings are still somewhat cool, the afternoons could easily be mistaken for the middle of summer. Somewhere in the middle of that is spring — or 10 a.m., as we call it in Florida. 

Meanwhile, on the beaches, residents are brave enough to wade back into the Gulf. As daily temperatures average out to about 77 degrees in March, the water temperatures off Longboat Key are 70 degrees. It’s just become swimming weather for some. Bob Dreyfus, who lives on the beach and goes out every day, has seen plenty of swimmers, though many are spring breakers with perhaps a more hardy composition against the cold than your average Floridian. Family friends visited and the two teens spent their time boogie boarding, he said. 

As for Dreyfus, he’s been enjoying more time on the beach. The afternoons aren’t so hot yet that he seeks air conditioning ASAP, and for him, spring means that it’s time to work on his beach-art installation. He organizes found items on the beach, including clamshells, branches, bits of coral and rope that washed ashore into an art piece that he takes down by May 1 for the start of turtle season. 

“Like a painter sits down with a canvas and with all his colors and brushes and sees what comes out, that’s how I try to do it,” Dreyfus said. “The weather adds to the piece.” 

 

Part-timers look north 

Though most snowbirds don’t leave until around Easter, which is April 17 this year, every stay must come to an end. Canadians Sandy and Patrick Bogert are looking ahead to their late April departure, when they pack up their car, trailer and dog and head back to Toronto. This year, it’ll be a very reluctant departure, as the couple didn’t get to come to Longboat Key in late 2020 and early 2021 like they usually do. 

“Even with a few chilly days it’s been so nice,” Patrick said. “We were so delighted to get down here this year.” 

The rising temperatures aren’t what pushes them north — Toronto gets up to some pretty humid days in the 80s in the middle of summer and Sandy said Longboat Key never gets too hot for them — but as Canadian residents, they can’t spend more than 182 days in the U.S. Luckily the snow will have melted by the time they get up there. 

Even though the trip home is quite a production of Tetris-like packing, they don’t worry about it too much until a few days before. With their time left, they’re planning on soaking up as much beach time as possible. 

 

Even worse traffic 

For a brief, yet groan-inducing, time in March, the spring breakers descend and bring even more traffic with them. The most common weeks for spring break are the weeks of March 5 and 20 according to SpringBreak.com, so if you’ve noticed it’s taking you even longer to find a spot at Publix recently, it’s not just your imagination. Look closely and you’ll notice the sunburned sightseers picking up a week’s worth of groceries and probably not enough sunscreen. The season for SPF comes along a little sooner in Florida than elsewhere.

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