Let’s Get Real


Each day begins here with a parade of ten feet,

straight to the back door.

Standing in bathrobe and bare feet, I pulled the curtain and clicked open the lock on the sliding glass door. The dogs bounded outside, animated with unbridled enthusiasm for the smells of a new day. This is our morning ritual. I open the door, and they rush to experience the day in the “here and now.” On this morning, I stood behind the glass, reading very tiny letters that scrolled across my phone, ignoring the magnitude of the direct revelation that lie just outside this half-opened doorway.

Dogs are pragmatic and opportunistic, especially in the morning. There were two activities afoot; parallel purposes of equal importance.  The first: find what is “different.” What has changed in my universe since I passed here last? WHAT is NEW? Novelty is a powerful stimulus.

“Rabbit was here, …..ugh, that squirrel, Blast him!

Yup, Possum passed by… what is … THIS!”

 His nose dusted a pile of sultry pellets with the smell of Kale from the garden. He froze in perfect “Retriever” posture, pointing to the Hawk overhead. The hawk screeched out his protest at the indignity of being “run off” by the gang of blackbirds nesting on the swampy edges of the open field next door.  The dog’s interests lie mainly in waterfowl, retrieving a raptor isn’t part of his genetic programming. He moved on. Each novel sensation analyzed, swift judgements noted, their astute observations filed  within the canine collective wisdom under “What I know,” or “I’ll pretend I didn’t smell that.”


My eyes did see the midnight blue Morning Glories. I heard the Sparrow call his mate from the garden fence, but my mind, my distracted, busy mind was attentive only to what I had chosen to see.   I was engrossed in a research article concerning the benefits of children spending time in NATURE.

That’s NATURE in capital letters,The evidence based therapeutic NATURE comes with trained professionals and private funding. It is not the “garden variety” cavalcade of Nature that lives in my house, under my house, and all around all of us.  That Nature is so richly accessible here that I need to wipe it off my feet before coming into the house.

Meanwhile, in the yard, the dogs had moved on to the second agenda; finding the best place to squat and eliminate that which was indigestible from the day before. It seems that a bit of visceral adrenalin helps in satisfying this task as well. A good bark, a growling offensive at the Woodchuck through the fence and viola! whatever didn’t serve yesterday is gone. Could it actually be that easy to discard the unusable “stuff” of life and start fresh?

Mammals enjoy watching a good “fight for survival,”

keeps us regular.

A soft breeze carrying the fragrance of wet willows blew by me as I stood at the open door. It cajoled my attention away from the incendiary news headlines, Facebook posts, and late summer LAST DAY sales that clogged my Inbox, I saw a tiny movement halfway across the yard.  It was just visible above the grass as long as a week of rainy days. Two black wing tips fluttered open, then closed again.

I stepped out the door, off the deck, and settled bare feet into wet grass, all the while watching the slow cadence of the wings, without drawing the dog’s attention. A few good breaths and I was “in it,” back in Nature as a participant instead of an observer.  We are after all, also THAT.

Moving closer soundlessly, I could see the black wingtips of a Swallowtail Butterfly.  I saw the velevt softness of her wings, decorated with sky blue dots, and false eye spots that could fool a nearsighted potential predator. Her perfectly articulated “swallow tail” wings echoed the barn swallows that swooped overhead, feasting on post rain mosquitoes. Silent wings opened and closed to her own music as she extended her proboscis to partake of what this world had to offer.

Zinnia Abundance all around and you choose this…?

This is late July in the short Operetta that is a northern NY summer.  On this patch of land, on my watch, the people get paths and the wild things get everything else. The Milkweed is for the Monarchs,  the red clover, and Queen Anne’s lace bring in bees and bugs of all sizes. There was a pot of vermillion Geraniums on the deck and a galvanized bucket of summer Zinnias in Crayola colors next to the tree, a yard away.  The tall Phlox are just blooming, and even the Spring-time Wisteria has a few late entries nearby. For a Butterfly in July here there is so much to feast on.

Despite all the “Healthy Choices,” this beautiful creature, product of astounding feats of adaptation and evolution was sitting on yesterday’s dog food indigestibles, yes, she was enthralled and enthroned on a pile of yesterday’s rain soaked dog feces.  And what’s worst, she looked quite pleased about her find.  I checked back in an hour and she was still there, apparently fascinated with this pile of dung. This sad scene was reminiscent of my intended 2-minute email check that becomes an hour-long romp through Pinterest and beyond.  Hours dissolve while a weedy garden waits, and good books go unread. The metaphor slapped me in the face, and I am taking this to heart.

The extraordinary devices of connection and communications are merely tools and not wise Oracles. Are someone else’s selections and their advertising sidekicks worth that much space in my life? Second hand emotions and pre-digested opinions are no equal to direct experience. I will take my Nature straight, and I don’t need a battery.

Maybe I’ll get a watch.





Florida in August is perfect…..


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.cloud

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 carbathwindowried 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 brailizardn” 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 theyfeathers 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.

plumeriaI’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.