Thursday, June 21, 2012


It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Mosquitoes are bitin’, and the grasses are high. Your daddy’s rich (in some cases), and your kids are good looking (or so we like to tell our friends). So hush little suburban baby. Don’t you cry.  One of these mornings, you’re going to wake up on holiday, then you’ll spread your wings, pump up your tires, and take to the streets. Until that morning, you can prepare for the sultry weather by dreaming of another ride through the green thicket that wraps its vines around us every summer, as you drip happily with sweat and pleasure.

Years ago when I first moved here, I complained to new friend and current Ransom Everglades Athletic Director Claude Grubair about summer’s oppressive humidity as he picked me up on a warm June evening with his windows rolled down. “Summer’s the best time of the year,” said Claude simply. After thinking about it – no kidding – I had been transformed and converted. Last week, I bumped into Claude while I was on my bike and he was running, and I reminded him of the story. I have loved the summers here ever since.

The earlier the better, but as long as one avoids the lightning, riding in summer is all good. You don’t need a plan, for residential streets in Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, South Miami, Cutler Bay, and Coral Gables overflow with things to look at. Yes some of it may not be what you might choose to see in front of homes if indeed you had the power of choice – a big pair of badly carved lions, gilded gates, stars and stripes on poles – but there is a feast for the vigilant eye. 

You can make a little checklist if you like. Pink flamingos in the flower beds – check. Ceramic dolphin above the garage door – check. Lighthouse mailbox – tick it off. Shells embedded on a wall – got ‘em. There is no end to the kitsch. For all who recoil at this, shall I call it art, just look at the giant, graceful Poinciana trees.

Architectural quirks lie just around every bend, decades of design shaped by the times and the shapes of our lives. We all know that homes keep getting bigger and bigger, c’est la construction. These days, you can still see the 50’s bungalow which George Jetson may have loved next to the new McMansion which the 1% love. This love of course, trickles down to contractors, real estate agents, tax collectors, and gardeners – I’ll leave it at that. If you are on a bike, the former is cool like Americana and the latter grand like Downton Abbey.

Depending on your route, a brain freezing smoothie is just a few revolutions away. Aside from all the knowledge dropped by the big guy at Smoothie King, the faded, grandfathered-in glory provided by the chatty staff at the Wayside Market, and the proximity to Whole Foods and Fresh Markets along the way, South Miami’s Sun Juice has been my favorite for years, keeping my hypochondria at bay with the Cold Curer.

More and more of us in South Florida have taken to the streets on our bikes, riding with friends and family, rolling back the years. It’s summertime, and the livin’ – as long as the hurricanes mind their manners – is easy.

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