27 degrees in panhandle Florida

Maybe the deer knew there would be a hard freeze last night. Two mature does and three frisky yearlings spent an unusually long time in the clearing outside my window yesterday eating grass and out-of-season dandelions.

Longleaf Lou and I heard turkeys in the woods near the stream bed yesterday when we walked to the gate. First time in eons that I’ve heard that sharp cluck cluck sound. Coyotes, bobcats, foxes and feral cats have taken a hard toll on the wild turkeys around here. I used to collect fallen turkey feathers and lay them out on the dining room table. Is there anything prettier? I have videos of dozens of wild turkeys in the clearing and perched on the fence in the back yard, gobblers displaying and hens dancing. “Those were the days,” I murmur like some old-timer, which I guess I’ve become. Well, so what? The calendar may reveal it, but I don’t feel it. Gonna be a good day. Let’s get out there.

January Morning

The morning is dark and windy, with rain and warmer temperatures in the offing. The normal winter pattern here in the Florida panhandle is three days of chill, then rain, and two days of warmth. It’s not unusual for me to wear my same summer shorts and t-shirt augmented by a vest with many pockets or a light jacket from November to February. Rare is the winter day when I reach far back into the cupboard for a pair of fleece sweatpants.

When Lou and I walked down to the gate early, I was reminded of Wuthering Heights and how I always imagined myself like young Catherine, wandering the moors. The silver-gray lights, with sudden showers of leaves falling seems loud as cannons, and the chit-chit-chits of squirrels sounds like they are running around inside my head. The light, soft mist isn’t quite rain, but I can feel my hair expanding, curling, growing wild like a vine. I’m back at the house now, making a cauldron of white bean soup. Lou curls herself up on a small rug near the counter, waiting for offerings of celery half-ribs and quarter-size slices of carrot. Buck is up now, too, drinking chamomile vanilla tea (a more gentle counterpoint to my just-ground dark roast black coffee) and working at his desk. 

centipede in the house

We live in the woods, where during this transitional season when you open the sliding glass doors to let in the lovely fresh air, uninvited guests sometimes slip around the loosely fitting screened door.

Like this centipede I found on the floor of our bedroom closet yesterday.

Small, but spooky.

I picked him up with a tissue and put him in a jar. If a centipede can be visibly annoyed, this one was. He didn’t cower or curl into a ball like a millipede. No way. More like he wanted to jump out of that jar and sink those pincers into my carotid artery. Seriously weird how a small critter like that unnerved me. Of course, he was in the bedroom closet. But generally speaking, I’m very tolerant of bugs of all types and positively admire spiders, even though I’ve been bitten by several, the worst of which was a nasty bite between my toes an hour before a dinner party at our house, causing an unattractive foot drag the entire evening.
Here’s the centipede in all his stretched-out glory. I anthropomorphically imagine he was pausing a moment to realize he wasn’t dead after all. Ever have one of those days?

my summer of no writing, no art, no music

Sounds pretty terrible, right? I missed the interior thinking, storytelling, and creative connection, but Buck and I have been working hard on a couple of projects that absolutely required our attention and best thinking. And are, in their own way, enormously creative.

We’re a little ways past midstream, so I can’t share yet, but that time will come and along with it, some interesting yarns.

Meanwhile, I did at least snap a few photos over the summer and when I looked at them this morning, that old desire to memorialize them in this space bloomed like the scent of a much-loved and nearly forgotten perfume.

Here, then, some summer snapshots:

Cicada shell on a fencepost.
Fragrant summer peaches, the best in memory. I remembered the old trick of dipping the whole fruit into boiling water for a few seconds. The peel slips off like a snake’s skin.
Some sort of fruiting spores on a mushroom. I don’t know if the spores were opportunistic travelers or part of the mushroom itself. Strangely wonderful.
American beautyberries in the morning light.
A favorite lunch: my friend, Bette’s, bean salad and half a buttery avocado.
Even the hottest summer in memory will moderate soon. Already, the morning temperatures are cooler and the before-7:00 a.m. air has turned from blast furnace to baby’s breath.
Collaborative supper with family: honey-bourbon balsamic glazed salmon, asparagus (half wrapped in prosciutto), cauliflower, and new potatoes.
Black beans, brown rice, salsa, wok-cooked chicken-apple sausage with onions and red peppers, and luscious papaya spritzed with lime.
Sugar snaps on romaine, tuna, and homemade hummus. Favorite lunch #1.
Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burger on romaine. Favorite lunch #2.

When Wild Turkeys Return

2019 June 16 ~ Longleaf ~ near Pensacola, Florida

It wasn’t a rafter or a flock, but my heart soared to see two wild turkeys and at least six big-enough-to-fly poults strolling the clearing between house and woods last Sunday.

For years, so many turkeys lived in our hundred-acre wood that I collected enough dropped feathers to share with an artist friend who treasured them as do I. Several years ago, however, the population dropped precipitously due, I conjecture, to coyotes, bobcats, foxes and feral cats. Last year I caught a glimpse of only one lone hen.

It was pure luck that I was able to snap several fuzzy pictures. Two curious does emerged from the clearing, adding to the bucolic scene.

I don’t know the ways of nature well enough to know for sure why the turkeys disappeared or why they have begun to reappear and raise chicks. Perhaps they have been here all along and I have been shuttering myself in the house too much rather than walking the woods and observing as I used to.

Yellow Slime Mold

Brilliant yellow slime mold on a fallen log. Photo-bombed by Lou. Maybe she was interested because the common name of Physarum polycephalum is “Dog Vomit Slime Mold.” Find a fascinating article on it by Eve Broughton of Northern California’s Lost Coast Interpretative Association here.

2019 May 31 at Longleaf Preserve mid-way between house and gate.
Pensacola, Florida

A Lovely Native Blooms

Florida Anise Tree, a native plant

It’s 29 degrees here this morning. “Here” is near Pensacola, in what is called “the Panhandle” of Florida because of it’s long, narrow shape attaching to the rest of the state. We’re even in a different time zone: Central, while most of the state is in Eastern. Causes all sorts of aggravation for the citizens here when presidential and other elections are called while our folks are still driving to the polls.

This lovely Florida Anise tree lives around the banks of the natural spring that flows between our home and the gate, a distance of roughly a third of a mile. A culvert runs under the gravel road to allow the spring to go its way.

This morning’s cold snap is almost certainly the last before temperatures in the mid-seventies moving quickly higher become the daily norm. We’ve had a mild winter. The wild blueberries lining the road to the gate have been white with flowers for two weeks and the Louisiana irises I stuck in the stream bed twenty years ago to give them a fighting chance while we were gone all summer, have spread and will be a riot of yellow and lavender soon.

Lou Lou Belle and I run what I call “stick patrol” each morning, walking/running from house to gate about 6:30, picking up small branches that have blown onto the road during the night and tossing them into the deeper woods.

We arrive at the gate and dawdle until school buses, often in twos and threes, carefully negotiate the dangerous, blind curve right in front of the gate. One more day safe, at least here, in this moment, in this spot.

Pensacola Sunset

A stunning sunset in unscathed Pensacola can’t erase the destruction and suffering being visited upon our neighbors to the east and northeast by Hurricane Michael. Buck and I had just finished a comfort food supper when I saw it, grabbed my camera and raced upstairs and out to the second floor terrace to snap the moment before it was gone.