Saturday, March 19, 2022

Florida Springs Forward

 Our white orchid tree...

.... has really outdone itself this year!

Who says Florida doesn't have seasons? The tree looked sad and scrubby all winter but it's suddenly burst out. Meanwhile the pink one in the front, which is supposed to bloom in winter, still looks sad and scrubby.

The other marker of spring is the huge crowd heading for the beaches. This is the busiest time for traffic, for tourists ambling across the road without looking, for columns and columns of cyclists doing the Florida thing. The beach car parks were already overflowing just after dawn this morning (the clocks went forward last week and it's pitch black in the mornings) and the gazebos had all been nabbed, presumably by people having breakfast. It's a time when year-round residents put on a superior expression and retreat to their air-conditioned houses, keeping their heads down until the tourists all go home again.

But meanwhile, an ethical dilemma. I was pleased to see what I believe is a gulf fritillary caterpillar on my new passion vine.

Nice, I thought, that we're doing our bit for the butterfly population. Well, where there was one, there are now at least ten, all chomping away. He obviously told his friends, "C'mon lads, suckers in Golden Beach!" The poor plant is sacrificing itself  for a greater good. I've decided to grit my teeth and let nature take its course - but there jolly well better be some butterflies.

We will miss developments over the next month. Because yes, at last, we're actually going back to Blighty. It's been a long time and I feel my old stamping-grounds may be much changed. So watch this space...

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Winter's Back!

 Bleak and blustery at the beach this morning. 

Although there was a warm wind blowing, it seemed ominous - I suspected it would soon turn cold, which it did.  Adding to the atmosphere a flock of black birds tried to fight their way against the wind.      I'm not sure what this is but it's been there a while, so it wasn't blown in this time.

  The Farmers' Market was cancelled, the car show, to hubby's sorrow, was cancelled and the phone kept ringing with severe thunderstorm warnings, which in fact failed to materialise. A tornado threatened in the morning also failed to materialise, for which I wasn't too sorry. The rain bucketed down - a relief after several very dry weeks.

  It's interesting how the weather changes here - from hot in the morning to - they say, down to 40 degrees F tonight, so I've had to cover the planters again. It will be a shock for the plants - the Confederate jasmine's been blooming for a couple of weeks.

And just the other day we were riding again in Deer Prairie Creek Reserve, mopping our brows, dry sandy dust blowing in our faces. The horses were OK as they'd just been clipped. Yes, even in Florida, their winter coats sprout and need attention and they have to wear rugs at night.  

   Evidently we'd missed some excitement.

 Special it might have been but I'm not sure how succesful the hunt was. Some people who rode earlier said they'd seen three of the blighters still very much alive and kicking.  And busy churning up the ground again. Going later in the heat of the day we saw very little in the way of wildlife - a black snake slithering out of our way,  a couple of kayakers on the Myakka River, which was too high for the alligators to bask on the banks. Someone suggested they'd opened some gates somewhere to get ready for the rain. But we did see some gorgeous birds overhead, swallow-tailed kites, probably on their way north.

Sadly this isn't my photo.  

And then driving home from the park this bucolic scene.

Cattle grazing peacefully. Florida isn't all golf courses and gated communities. Yet.