Posted by: floridanature | May 12, 2008

It’s a Jungle Out There

The winds were blowing this weekend and between that and a nagging knee injury I stayed off the water and out of the woods. Caught up on work around the house, relaxed with a friend down at a little barbeque restaurant, then we watched the sun set over Lake Sybelia behind a large cross (set up for sunrise services, I guess.).

Today, I spent some time puttering in the yard, repairing the little white concrete bench that gravity and a dead live oak limb consipired to break in two a few weeks ago. Afterwards, I hung in my back yard, now converted from its monoculture of St. Augustine grass into a place where anything sort of goes. The pond’s cranking along pretty good—culls of comets growing up big, and some new little gambusia dumped there from a recent visit to the St. Johns. Frogs and toads have now come, and as a result, there’s always a spat of tadpoles swirling about.

It’s sort of like a big ol’ organic buffet of pollen and water and wildflowers. As I sat there this morning drinking my capuchino and eating one of the last Valencias from the tree, I watched a small black racer snake move out of the weeds and wild morning glories and slip into the pond, hunting. Snakes are among the most elegant of animals, and watching one work can’t help but make me want to write a haiku or two in honor of its zen-like stealth. When snakes and other animals move through, I remain as still as I can so as not to scare them. Watching the racer, I noticed for the first time the way the sun illuminated the cross hatch of its scales. It reminded me of the pottery the Native Americans who lived along the St. Johns once made, imprinting the soft clay with a distinct check pattern from a carved wooden stamp before they fired it. Art imitated nature a lot then.

So the snake slips away—“dissolves” is more like it— and a smattering of butterflies move through—tiger swallowtails, and some sulfur wings, and our state butterfly, the zebra longwing. They hung around a long while, twitting through the black eyed susans and the hibiscus. I finished my cappuchino, puttered in the little herb garden a bit, and then a red shouldered hawk flew to an oak in the corner of the yard. He lives around here, doing a pretty good business with the squirrels and all. I figured he had work to do, so I went inside.

A bit later, I looked out over the yard from the window in the Florida Room, and saw the hawk with a grove rat. The rat likely had sneaked under the cypress fence to root in my compost pile—bad move. It was deader than a doornail by now, and the hawk had itself a dandy lunch. Rodent on the half shell.

My back yard has a palatable soul now, an energy that vibrates with life, natural and spontaneous. Each time I go there and open my senses just a little bit, I notice something new, something that wouldn’t otherwise have been there if it were still a lock-step lawn with a buzz cut. I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel.


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