By Dave Trecker
A friend, a first-time visitor here, asked how you tell when it’s “season” in Naples.
Not how you distinguish “high season” from “low season.”
But simply when it’s “season.”
My friend was probably looking for a calendar definition January to mid-April, or just after Easter, or whenever.
But that’s not really how you tell. There are better ways to gauge when season has arrived.
Here are a few.
On U.S. 41, when somebody cuts you off going from an outside lane to an inside lane without looking, swings back again, then gives you the finger when you honk.
At a Phil concert, when there is repeated applause between movements.
On a checkout line, when an elderly woman cuts in front of you, demands immediate service, then argues every purchase with the cashier.
At the supermarket, when you hear that cuts of meat are never good enough and no one down here knows how to make a bagel.
On Fifth Avenue South, when legions of overweight, semi-clad people walk six-abreast down the sidewalk.
At restaurants, when you can’t get a reservation, then wish you hadn’t when the noise reaches jet-engine decibel levels.
On the tennis court, when some ringer with braces on both knees kills you with drop shots and lobs.
On the beach, when the weather is cold and windy, when a $20 tip can’t buy you a chair or chaise because they’re all taken, and when the shivering masses say at least it’s better than minus 10 in Minneapolis.
Out fishing, when the charter captain baits your hook, nets your fish, ices it, then cleans it on shore fully expecting you’ll dump it in the first garbage can you see.
At stop signs, when nobody stops.
My neighbor, a seasoned year-rounder, says they act like they own the place, these snowbirds because they do.
Hoteliers, restaurateurs, retailers of all stripes do 80 percent of their annual business during season. High-rise condos, largely vacant most of the year, fill with northerners ready to go out and spend money. Realtors book sales based on the temperature differential with Michigan.
It’s a family thing, too. Like returning swallows, children and grandchildren make the trek south each season. My wife and I are girding for two sets of visitors in January, one group in February and a larger group in March.
But there is one good thing about season: It doesn’t last forever! The hordes eventually go back north.
And the roads clear. And the restaurants empty. And courtesy returns.
Who says the summers here are too hot?