Florida in August is perfect…..if you are a lizard.
It is the outside air oozing in through an open door, thick and steamy, just this side of liquid.
It is the sun searing the innocence of transplanted leaves, or the unprepared skin of pale tourists. Both have left their genetic comfort zones. Both have grossly miscalculated the desiccating power of unlimited Prana.
It is the drama of turbulent clouds reaching into the Gulf for yet another cauldron of water to pour on summer stagnant swamplands. Monstrous storms move desert lifetimes of water in spontaneous torrents, rinsing and washing, rinsing and washing until every plant comes shiny and clean under a rainbow.
It is the whine of the Cicadas and the cacophony of tree frogs so loud that some days it is unclear if the sound exists inside or outside of my consciousness.
There are Primal forces at work here in the near Tropics and they “strut their stuff” in August.
They bow to no one on these dense days.
These are the Titans, the soul of all life here on Earth:
Sun, Water and the Urge to live. And live they do, in bright colors and with leathery resiliency. The work of Earth will prevail here in Florida, despite our human hindrance and hampering, poisoning and pruning. Life will continue, although the prevalent form may be a lizard
or humans that act like lizards!
It’s all about Adaptation
Humans scurry to join the Outdoors in the early morning and nearly dark evening, leaving the bright days to pass in the electric oasis of central air conditioning. If you weren’t born to live here, better lay low until later.
The only living that goes on Outside at noon is carried on by the professionals; Lizards, Bougainvillea, Palm trees and very hardy Landscapers.
We are the human versions of the sweating ice tea glass, go outside and unimagined amounts of water will begin to roll off your body. The weather calls the shots here, adapt your schedule or “fry.”
Palms, Palms, Palms: every size and every guise
Palms look the way they do because they have done their best to maximize a challenging assignment. Compare a Palm to a Peony and tell me who will be standing in this climate? Tropical sun, Biblical proportion deluges and circular winds of summer’s tumultuous thunderstorms have created the perfect survivor.
Palms can sport thick trunks of spikes and spears, shields studded with razor sharp points or spindly, spongy 60-foot stems holding a single mop of leaves. Somehow, they are all Palms. What they don’t share in shape they share in attitude.
Their magic is accommodation. They share leaves that bend, split, unfold, and shred as they dance the wind spirit. Leaves on branches that ride the top o’ the gale, always illustrating wind, never “bracing against.” No matter how fierce the blow, they flow in non-resistance. Palms win their survival by yielding; being one with what is present. No good to burn, and hard to get close to, these are tree survivors.
I give them full measure of respect and keep a good distance as they are also- full of
“those that shall remain nameless”…the “insect survivors.”
Lizards Lizards and more Lizards
There are thousands of lizards in our yard this month, every color, every size and everywhere you look. From out of the ferns they leap; tiny “two inchers,” swinging on a leaf, to the full-grown Grand Poobahs.These behemoths challenge at eye level with a “come hither” throat swell and a raised eyebrow. This could suggest a great deal about the power of a positive self-image. They also remind us all that the human brain is built on this very same “reptilian brain” substrate as well.
It’s all so familiar. The population of lizards surrounding the giant Live Oak suggests the machinery and mysteries of reproduction are in full swing out there.
Our chemical free yard has become a version of the “Whole Foods” olive bar for snakes, birds and any and all creatures that find a lizard tasty. A Red tailed hawk left a tail feather “Thank You” note on the driveway, as did the Blue Jay. The Rat snake was a surprise; he was so full he could hardly muster himself off the driveway. It’s not easy to be “prey.”
The Poobahs and their minions are particularly fond of the car that resides in the shade of that giant “Live Oak. Most will leap off tires and shimmy out of the front grill when the locks click open. There are some that won’t leave, be it territorial or recreational; they stand their ground. Maybe they claim dominion over Fords?
They are tenacious despite their diminutive stature. Some of these cowboys have a penchant for riding on the hood, sticky toes spread, gripping the metal, face into the wind. Others, caught napping in the windshield wiper well, climb their way up despite gale force windshield winds, to glare at the driver, clearly irked at the unexpected journey. More than once I have pulled over and commanded them off. I can’t drive safely and watch for raised eyebrows and panicky looks when I have to stop fast. I do wonder how they know where to find the driver? I try not to envision the aftermath for one of these unexpected emigres marooned at the grocery store or the beach parking lot.
I’m unclear if I will sign up for the next “August in Florida” Cotillion of sweat and swelter. I can dream and ponder on cooler realms for next August. For the present, seems a page out of the book of palms might serve:
Adapt, Modify, Accommodate. The Quest?
Bloom where you’re planted.