Sunday, February 13, 2011

Signs, signs every where. With apologies to the song writer.

Winter has its way here among the pines and rivers and creeks. Nearly all the trees have shed their leaves, save the Live Oaks. They are alw ays among the last, waiting until the soil warms a tad more and awakens the sap. Then after all the raking, all the piling of leaves beneath the azalea and camillia, the live oak sheds it leaves. The period on the season. 

On the way to work earlier this week,  I saw a red maple had lay on new leaves, almost open, almost like a butterfly fresh from the cocoon. In my backyard, the daffodils are swollen, yellow petals ready to open and soak in the butter colored rays of the sun. Although the last three nights here have been low temps, in the mid to high twenties, I am encouraged by the early signs of winter's last raw grasp on the earth. Winds will soon switch from the north and northeast. The southeastern waves of air will sail in off the Gulf of Mexico slowly warming the soil, bringing the fog of early  mornings to the roads and hollows.

Out in the Gulf, the pompano will begin to run along shore, bringing the sure signs of a warming trend to follow. The emerald green shores will sparkle like the gem, with the new sun, new light, and new day. The irrepressible tides will begin to rise inches higher than before. Everything will wake a little earlier, as the earth orbits back into the angle that brings our land a little more direct sunlight and for many a sunnier outlook.

Here in the panhandle of Florida, so much will awaken, and those that have hibernated like the land will roll out of their self-imposed exile from the season and stretch their wings like an anhinga. An ancient and odd bird from the far past of Florida's time before the Spanish and French, and English. Anhinga swims underwater almost as well as a penguin, its long beak probing and piercing small fish and crustaceans, a sustenance for a bird that flies underwater nearly as well as it does in the sky. Ancient bird because its wings, all its feathers possess little oil to repel water. When its wings  become water logged, anhinga finds a stump, or branch above the water and open to sun. It spreads its wings wide to drip dry. And  lifts its S curved neck high, beak reaching for the moon to evaporate the tea colored waters from its back.

Oh yes, the calendar says it is still winter, and it will still be cold for a while. But the maple thinks the sun will warm soon, and fishermen will line our quartz white beaches look for the delicious chance to land a pompano. How far behind can the wild paw paw bloom be? How long before the wisteria wrapped and wedged into the crooks and forks of trees begins it purple flavored display ? Not long I think, not long from now.