I know. I know. This was supposed to be the on-the-road post, the one where I post a picture and you write the caption and Joe and I drive back to New York. The car, though, had other plans and is now sitting in a repair shop — which means the you-do-the-writing post will have to wait.
As will we — waiting for our car and for the arrival of Saharan dust. Yes, you read that correctly. A cloud of Saharan dust is making its way to South Florida. Forecasters say the most noticeable effect will be a milky, hazy sky — nothing blue about it. All I know is that it’s a little something extra to make the heat feel hotter. I guess you could say it’s a dry heat, and how often can that be said in Fort Lauderdale?
So what should a couple of disheartened travelers do on a clear, dust-free night? Take a walk, of course.
For all of my life, I have been a morning person. As a kid, I loved being the first person awake in the house — especially on a Saturday morning. That was prime television watching time, and I didn’t have to share the clicker. As an adult, my favorite morning is Sunday — it’s designed for pre-crowd food shopping, breakfast, a leisurely read of the newspaper, a crossword puzzle, and a nap — all before 11:00 a.m.
Drops of rainwater on an Elephant Ear leaf look like beads of liquid silver in this morning's light.
Now that I’m on summer vacation, mornings are even more special. You see, I love my garden in the morning — and there are some times when morning almost feels like a religious experience. The light is soft. The air is fresh. As the sun starts to warm the air, the dew evaporates, so that the few rays of light are like beams.
But it’s the human silence that I appreciate. For many of us, this is the closest we can come to feeling alone, as if we were the first person to set foot on this land. There are no lawnmowers revving. No cars and sounds of traffic. No voices. Just a non-stop soundtrack of songbirds — sparrows, robins, doves, cardinals — all stirring to greet the day alongside me.
Yes, the garden changes throughout the day, and volumes of poetry could be written about the garden and the play of light and shadows as the day goes on. I just think there is more of an intimacy in the morning. The plants seem to agree with me. They appear rested and alive and alert, as if they are determined to put on their best show.
A lot has been written here and on other blogs about the peace and tranquility of gardening. But let me tell you, there’s some stress growing out there. Am I watering too much or not enough? Too much sun? Just how dappled should dappled shade be? Who will water while I’m away?
And if that weren’t enough worries to cloud my sunny day, now it’s this. There is a bird’s nest in one of the white pines that line the back of my property. Very early in my gardening life, I realized that I was creating my own ecosystem. As soon as everything bloomed, it seemed my yard became a resort for butterflies and bees and even a praying mantis.
But now there is a bird’s nest. Blue Jays to be exact. What’s surprising is that the nest is only about 7 feet off the ground, so Joe and I can get a pretty clear look at the goings on. And if we can, so too can the local varmints. Now, I’m on guard for any intruders. I am like a mother hen, although I haven’t quite perfected the whole regurgitation of food thing. But when Mom and Dad are away gathering food for the youngins, I feel obligated to bird sit.
I happen to like birds. I especially like hearing them when I spend some time in the yard in the early morning hours. But if truth be told, I’m also a little bit edgy around them. I wouldn’t call it a fear of birds — it’s more like a fear of getting hit in the head with one. I can hear you saying, “Kevin, how common can that be?” In my world, it’s pretty common. My head has been a bird target — not a bird poop target, but an actual bird target — three times!