Florida Bound!

Simone has her Florida cut. We’re ready for the launch parties for Sandra Lambert’s The River’s Memory and Pat Spears’ Dream Chaser. Sunshine State, here we come! 


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Florida is a swirl of rain

Florida is a swirl of winds, waving palms, splashing rain, rain, rain.

When I left my home on the east coast on Tuesday, a few days early for a meeting on the west coast, the Tropical Storm Fay was bearing down and I feared not being able to get out once the high winds began. At that time, the storm's track was up the East Coast. Or so the forecast said.

So moved to a motel partway to my destination, in the early evening when I was too tired to drive far. The only motel for miles around? An under-construction Best Western literally surrounded by a truck stop, the big rigs chuffing in the showers angling in under giant kleig lights. A sweet guy at the desk, sensing I felt a little out of place, watched me safely into my room. But the room was perfectly comfortable.


Nevertheless, I cried several times that night. Leaving your family –and the dear beagle–with a bad storm bearing down is a knife aimed right at any mother's gut.


By the time I got up the next morning, the storm's track had been changed to filter out over the Atlantic, then back into the Sunshine State (Ha!), aiming straight for my house. My husband encouraged me to go on, with assurances he had everything covered at home, and the storm was "just" a tropical storm with winds of 35 miles an hour or so.


Wrong. The winds were around 50 mph with gusts up to 60. I've been in one storm where the winds topped 70 mph. I never want to do that again. My modus operandi–and, living in Florida, one must have one–is to leave when the storms get rough. But before now, I've left with my family.


I went on. Then Fay took a left turn and headed straight for the coast I'd driven to. Not to worry. Storms always dissipate over dry land. Except Fay. She stayed at 50 mph as she headed for Appalachee Bay, near my meeting site.

So now I'm sitting in a motel room in Tallahassee wondering when my job became outrunning storms. I don't know, but I'm getting good at it. As long as the credit card holds out.

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Carol King on the Cosmic Phone

The moon is waxing toward summer here in North Florida. By the end of this month, we'll be in shorts every day till Hallowe'en. Desperate attempts to beat the heat and still achieve at least one task a day will begin very soon.

But for now, it's cool nights, a waxing crescent, and whip-poor-wills calling at night, joined by the voices of new residents in the neighborhood hedges. Two nights ago, an owl inserted it's call in-between the dulcet notes of an American idol teenager-of-late trying to rediscover the magic of Carol King. "It's too Late, Baby," the birds might be calling us to renewal. They're certainly warning us to pay attention, now, while the Earth spins its warm-weather magic for us in this semi-tropical climate. To miss nothing on the long upbeat to summer.

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Marsh Magic


I  live on the edge of a wonderful marsh. Houses curve around a hill with a wonderful view of Vaill Point Marsh, where every day there are blue herons, ibises, pelicans, and, once, a gorgeous pink flamingo, all standing like mannequins from central casting, bird-knee deep in water that has the property of changing hue with the time of day.

Almost every morning and evening, my way winds along this marsh. At daybreak and high tide, the water glistens like a mirror, reflecting the light, it seems, a moment before it brightens around me, so that it appears the marsh begins to glow with sunlight an instant before our star breaks over the Intracoastal Waterway to our east. As evening falls, the marsh takes on the colors of the sunset, softening and spreading them like sunbutter along its edges.

People from the neighborhood and beyond come here to fish. Once, in a particularly dry spell, when the Florida Wildlife Bureau had issued a bulletin about alligators wandering in search of food, I stopped to tell a fisherman about the big gator I saw the evening before, having to drag my dog at breakneck speed up a hill as the gator plunged toward us from across the tidal creek. Not to be outdone, he shrugged, "Oh, you must mean that twelve-footer I saw this morning. He tried to take a bite out of my boat, but I cranked the motor just in time."

There is much drama that goes on in the marsh, with red wings patrolling its edges, possums and raccoons hunting by night, and more that a landlubber cannot know. But to me the marsh is my river of dreams, a pathway to the sun and stars, a magician with color and light.

These late spring days (In Florida April is practically summer), intensely blue asters are painting the water's edge, the green of grass and reed so sharp that it feels the earth is ready to blossom like the landscape of a cartoon. Or a grand canvas by an artist more accomplished than any yet seen. No, that last is hyperbole. Monet could paint the early-day marsh in spring. Perhaps Cezanne for sunset. O'Keefe would find the motion in the stillness. But no one painter could do it all. That's why, perhaps, Florida has so many painters of marsh light. What a challenge to capture its many moods.

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