In the previous post, I mentioned that summer in South Florida was like living in a green desert: day after day of heat made hotter by oppressive humidity and afternoon downpours. It’s for these reasons that many gardeners retreat indoors, contenting themselves to look at their green world from behind glass.
Imagine my surprise — and delight — when I came across an oasis in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, a green space that was not only green but was still producing even in the blistering summer heat.
There was a time, not too long ago, when this part of South Florida — east of the Everglades and west of the Coast — was nothing but white sand, scrub vegetation, saw palmettos, and sand pines. Development and expansion, with all of its blacktop and gated communities and non-native plants, soon overran the place.
Fortunately, the city of Oakland Park thought to preserve this slice of Florida’s natural history with the Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve, a pristine 5.6-acre site nestled between two lakes. This location, in addition to the abundance of native plants, means the park is home to countless birds, anole lizards, and even gopher tortoises, an endangered species. It’s also a place where the community can come together — volunteers are responsible for the preserve’s upkeep.
I arrived at the preserve after a brief morning shower. As I stepped from my car, I was struck by the silence and solitude in a place that is literally just down the street and over the fence from the trappings of the modern world.
A community of leaves — perfectly tie-dyed.
It’s a word and a concept that’s been on my mind lately — which is pretty amusing, actually. I often say the older I get, the more I like to stay in my yard and not deal with people — which is difficult to do, since I’m a school social worker. In fact, I often joke that I’m an anti-social worker.
The truth, however, is that community is important to me. I think it’s important to all of us. As humans, we need to belong, to feel connected — even if only to commiserate about the crazy weather. (As an aside, I would just like to say that in the past two weeks, my part of the world has endured a hurricane, a nor’easter, snow, and — today — Spring-like temperatures. My heart says, “Go out and start planting.” My brain says, “Are you crazy? It’s November!”)
We can learn a lot from trees. I first realized this after visiting the Survivor Tree at Ground Zero — and now, in the wake of Sandy, trees continue to teach me.
Take a look at this one. It’s a Bradford Pear — or, rather, what’s left of a Bradford Pear.
It was planted years ago, along with two others, by a local business interested in prettying up a very busy street corner. I remember when they were all planted. I was thrilled — at last, a business was taking an interest in beautifying the community.
Besides, at the time, the Bradford Pear was the tree of the moment, planted by towns and homeowners because of its flowering beauty, graceful shape, and instant shade ability. Their abundance in the landscape — both public and private — turned spring into a flowering tree extravaganza.
The trees planted by this business did what they were expected to do — especially on hot summer days when residents huddled under their cool shade while waiting for the public bus.
But one by one, the trees have disappeared. One was badly damaged after being hit by a car. A second came down in a storm. Now, this is the sole survivor, and I know the story of each of its missing limbs — as if I am telling the tales of the scars on my own body.
Illuminating. The dictionary tells me that this has to do with supplying or brightening with light, making understandable, enlightening. What I have learned in the past year is that there are so many bloggers out there who do the same for me – and to whom I continually return to for illumination.
One of these bloggers is Helene, of Graphicality UK, who nominated this site for the Illuminating Blogger Award. It’s not enough to say that I’m honored or humbled. The fact that this came from Helene means so much more, because I would use the same word to define her. She is absolutely illuminating.
As you know, there are rules to rewards, and the rules here are a little different than other awards.
- 1. The nominee should visit the award site (http://foodstoriesblog.com/illuminating-blogger-award/) and leave a comment that they have been nominated and by whom. (They keep a blogroll of winners, so this is a very important step.) This will be a check as soon as I click “publish,” I promise.
- Continue reading
Like a garden, a blog needs its own share of TLC. There’s watering (to nurture it along), weeding (to keep out the spam), some deadheading (to keep it fresh), and a fair amount of manure (to encourage growth). The real reward comes when blooms appear – as flowers, vegetables, or readers. This week, Nitty Gritty Dirt Man has seen a bountiful harvest.
My usual routine in the garden is to take a walk, check on what’s growing, what needs trimming, what needs weeding – that sort of thing. I keep a similar routine for the blog, where I try to post at least two times a week, usually on Sundays and Wednesdays. The structure helps keep me focused and organized.
I also check on the stats that WordPress tracks – mostly out of curiosity to gauge what readers seem to like and when their interest peaks and fades.
That was the case on Monday morning when I checked the stats from Sunday’s Super Bowl post. There were maybe 50 hits on Sunday night and one on Monday morning. That same afternoon, I checked in again, but the visitors’ number had surged to well over 200. Surely, I thought, there had to be a problem. I had never, ever had that many hits. Was there a glitch? A prank? A virus?