Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections


Spring arrived the other day — and as a northern gardener, it means so much.  Despite the winter-like temperatures that continue to hold on, this spring is a milestone.  Not only does it mark time in the calendar, it’s the light at the end of winter’s dark tunnel.  It’s the promise of new, green growth and branches filled with buds, of garden clean-up and future plans.  It’s hopes and wishes and dreams in the blink of a season.

Those were my thoughts — and feelings — as I sat in my South Florida backyard, staring at a tree that looked more summery than spring-like.   In fact, according to my skin, spring arrived here months ago — even before I arrived in February — and this vernal equinox felt more like a summer solstice.

That’s when it struck me.  Do gardeners experience something akin to phantom limb syndrome?  Inside I’m cheering spring’s arrival.  I imagine myself examining each inch of soil in a search for bulbs pushing through the last remnants of snow.  After that, I’m clipping some of my neighbor’s forsythia branches to bring them inside for forced blooming.  And then I’m removing fallen leaves from the hydrangea’s comb-like branches, giddy with the appearance of green shoots.  Each of my senses is experiencing its own spring awakening.

Getting giddy over green.

Getting giddy over green.

Here in the subtropics, though, I’m searching for signs of the spring that I know, that I feel.  Maybe it’s because this is my first actual change of season here or that I’m still green — so to speak — in a land that never seems to lose its green, but I can’t seem to find spring.  Even a local radio deejay sounded overjoyed at the first day of spring, but before the notes of the next song could play, she took a step back and wondered aloud, “Does South Florida even have a spring?”

Of course, it has a spring — a different kind of spring — and I so badly wanted to do something to recognize the season that I knew, but nothing seemed to fit right.  So I sat and stared at a tree and allowed my senses to enjoy the sensations of previous springs.  Besides, this warm, moist Florida air seemed better suited for lounging — and reflecting.

31 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

  1. Your (top) photo reminds me so much of where my in-laws (both now passed) lived in FL, brought tears to my eyes! Beautiful.

    And you’re right, Spring in the South, especially it seems in FL, is an entirely different creature than what us Northeasters are used to! I was amazed a few years ago to find Charleston SC in full Spring mode at the end of February 🙂 However, FL, at least north central where we were, despite the first week of March on the calendar, was in a full summertime heatwave of high 90s with humidity to match. With time I think anyone can get used to anything and while we are used to our 4 seasons, there are ways Floridians mark the changing of seasons that we aren’t used to and maybe that’s a place to start – ask those who have been there a long time, or watch the community you live in and see what’s going on. I have a lot of family down in FL who never want to live back in the Northeast again! Heat & humidity and I don’t get along well so it would never work between FL and I 🙂 I hope the sun and warm breezes are already healing you!

    • Hey Jo. I’m glad I was able to bring back a happy memory for you. Each day here is a learning experience, and I find myself doing a lot of observing — at people’s yards, at the nurseries, and at the subtle changes in seasonal patterns. And the warmth certainly does a heart good. 🙂 Be well, my friend.

  2. Reflection is good. I found my long walks a time of reflection and the only way for the last 10 months to cope with my loss. I am doing so much better and still walk! Listening to music also seems to help. I am also contemplating on what I want to do to my back yard. I look forward to more color for sure with my flowers. The birds though are all ready calling my bird houses home!! It is so sweet. Be Well as you always say to me!!

    • Hi Alesia. Every life should have color — and a few birds to keep one company! 🙂 That has to be so exciting that birds are now calling your yard home. And I agree with you about music. If you could see my iPod, you would see a broad assortment of playlists — something for every mood. Be well — oops, I did it again. 🙂

  3. I lived in Florida, near Tampa, for ten years so I can tell you that, yes! Florida does have seasons. Two of them: Hurricane season and not hurricane season.

    • LOL, Ann! I’ll have to use that one. I’ve heard various takes on the same theme: hot and hotter, paradise and hell, perfect weather and everything else. Thanks for the chuckle.

  4. Hi Kevin, I live in a Mediterranean climate, and we don’t really have a spring here either. One week it’s winter and the next week it’s summer, and everyone is in t-shirts. The birds let everyone know it’s spring, but it will be very warm by the time they move into their nests. We are used to it I suppose, for us it seems strange that it takes so long to change from winter to summer 🙂

    • Hi Graziella. Thanks for sharing your perspective. It’s really so interesting to learn how other people experience the seasons. Nice to know that we live in a world where there’s a season/climate for everyone. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Kev,
    As one of my photographer friends said “Never pass up a puddle for you not know what beauty lie’s within”

  6. Even down there I bet there’s a season for things. You’ll miss the special Northern things, but start looking forward to whatever seasonal fruits there are and whatever new things are showing up in the farmer’s market. Trust me you’re not missing much up here right now 🙂

    • Hi Bittster. I’ve been keeping up with the weather forecasts and I can see that winter isn’t letting go. The locals down here are saying that the South Florida heat is out of the ordinary — even by their standards.

  7. It took me years to recognize the change in seasons here in Texas compared to those of the PNW. My first fall, I kept wondering when the rains would start and seemingly never cease. Perhaps Florida’s spring arrived before you did and perhaps you’re in the “not too hot yet” pre-summer season at the moment 😉

    • Hi Plumdirt. Each day is a learning experience. I’m told to enjoy this because the rainy season is coming. It should be an interesting ride. 🙂

  8. One of the things I love about the midwest is the experience of four distinctive seasons. I suppose it would be strange to relocate to a place that had less than four. I think you’ll always have (and experience) each one in your heart no matter what is going on outside. By the way, it snowed here today. Winter is not going out without a fight. Be well.

    • Hi Mario. Give winter a one-two punch for me. The lingering winter has to be impacting the nursery business. That being said, it is odd to see the difference in seasons in a new zone — I’m curious if I will begin to see subtle changes rather than the dramatic changes from up north. Stay warm!!

  9. It seems to me that as you are in the best place for lounging and reflecting, you should just relax and enjoy it, allowing 2014 to be a formative year, and a year for some serious plant planning and observation. Today we have had a sprinkle of sleet and it feels like we have just tipped back to Winter so I could do with a spot of a climate suited to lounging and reflecting. Tales from your Florida clime help warm the cockles. keep telling us all about it.D.

    • Hi Doris. I hope the temps have warmed up a bit — and my plan is to always share and take you on this journey. 🙂 By the way, there was a recent chilly morning here — and when I say chilly, I mean 59 degrees. I saw a local woman out for a walk, wrapped in a winter coat, ear muffs, and a scarf held up to her mouth and nose.

  10. Beautiful photo! I am having the opposite reaction having moved up North – why aren’t the daffodils in full bloom already? Why are the bulb LEAVES not even up yet? (Why is it still so cold?!) I think being a Northern gardener is a test in patience 🙂 Being in a more tropical place must be hard, though, if there are not the normal spring plants. Do daffodils grow there, or is it too warm?

    • Hi Indie. I agree with you about patience, but I also think gardening is a lot of patience and faith — and always learning. There aren’t the usual spring bulbs here — it’s too warm. If they were planted in the ground, they would never have the cold time to rest — but at some point, I think I’m going to play with that with the help of a small refrigerator. Why not? 🙂

  11. So many things come to my mind with hearing your thoughts as I also really try to think about what this new spring is like for you. I automatically think that you’d be so pleased to have the warmth, but that’s coming from my own experience of only knowing continual warmth. You’re missing home. It makes me a little sad for you, Kevin, because homesickness is a tough one! I think only time will take care of some of that, but you’ve given me some real insight into how perennial summer feels to a gardener from north. Here in sunny Southern California we don’t have Florida’s level of summer in March, but it’s close. As a lifelong resident, I do see the subtle signs of spring. I know the difference in my garden almost week by week, and can anticipate certain shifts even when the temperatures are ridiculously high for winter and spring. You’ll begin to detect the subtle shifts and find pure delight in the fact that you notice! I think a new wave of garden inspiration is going to hit you, but maybe it’s just a little too soon. I think there’s a book in this journey, Kevin. I really do. There’s so much to your story! Think about it. 🙂

    • Hi Debra. I think there is so much to learn here — just as much if a Florida gardener moved north or west to California. Thanks for the book comment — that’s certainly on my bucket list. 🙂 Be well — and I hope you’re safe after the earthquakes out there.

  12. With the winter that will not end I find myself getting giddy over every sighting of green too. LOL! What a lovely, peaceful picture. Enjoy your time in the sunshine.

  13. Consider yourself lucky you’re not getting these never-ending rains like we have this month in the Pacific Northwest. Today I wanted to garden but it was a downpour! Guess I have to get out the rain gear and not be a wimp! Can you grow really good tomatoes there with all that sun?

    • Hi Elaine. My thoughts and prayers are with the folks in the northwest who are dealing with the rain and mudslides. As for tomatoes, I will say I have enjoyed some delicious salads down here. I understand, though, that the heat and humidity of summer can also cause pest and disease issues for many plants, including tomatoes.

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