Misty morning hop

In a feat of wondrous planning and observation, I realized that today would begin in a foggy way and I not only set my alarm clock to capture it, I actually got out of bed and got dressed for it!  So, for the third time in less than two weeks, I present to you my lake in all its misty glory!  I never get tired of this lake.

There is a magnificent eastern red cedar tree outside my front door that was planted by a previous owner.  He didn’t plan it very well, so it’s a little closer to the driveway than it should be, which means birds leave their droppings on our cars.  My husband complains that it hides the house too much, but the tree is beautiful, and I have always thought trees were meant to give houses shade and privacy anyway.  The blue berries nestled in the green sprays contrast with the rich reddish brown of the trunk in the most wonderful way.  One day, when I am feeling very ambitious and energetic, I will paint my house the color of the berries, that beautiful silvery blue.  Until then, my house will stay the brownish, boring color that it has been since we bought it.  It’s a great improvement over the school bus yellow it was at one time.

The next order of business was to drive my oldest son to school.  You see, he goes to school a ridiculously long way away, in another city (well, if you can call it a city), even though there are four high schools closer to us.  My other high schoolers got into magnet programs, but the oldest boy realized he was too lazy for that, and just went to the school he’s zoned for, up in Alachua, the city.  That’s pronounced Ah-latch-oo-WAY as opposed to the county, which is pronounced Ah-latch-oo-ah.  The city’s pronunciation provides me with several minutes of giggling every time I hear it.  Anyway, back to my son and his school.  Usually, he takes the bus, but I know the drive well enough to know that it is beautiful in the fog, so I took him and he agreed to not complain when I stopped and took pictures, as long as I didn’t take any of his school.  So I jumped out of the car to take photos of things like a farm bordered by palm trees.

The beauty of this drive is a bit of a love/hate thing for me.  Aesthetically, I know it’s gorgeous.  I appreciate the people who, like my beloved Pioneer Woman (who doesn’t even know I exist), learn to love farmland and ranch land and make it work for them.  I love the wonderful food grown on these farms, and seeing a field of corn or wheat makes me happy.  But I was born in the city and grew up with all the appreciation of urbanity that a girl can have living just on the other side of the river from DC.  So even as I appreciate the glow of the sun over the fields, my soul cries out for the city!

With that said, look at these cows!  Did you even know there were cows in Florida?  It’s one of our best kept secrets, I’m willing to bet.  The tourism industry never advertises anything as tame as cows in fields, and for some reason, nobody seeks out Florida-grown beef.  But there are a lot of cows here.  Even before Florida was known for oranges, it was cow country.  The largest ranch in the country is not in Texas, or Oklahoma, or Nebraska, it’s in Florida!  Deseret Ranches is just outside of Orlando and is currently considered the largest cow ranch in the US.  This is not  that ranch, by the way, just a farm on the way to my boy’s school that offered some nice scenery.  You see that little cow critter (well, he’s probably not so little when you’re next to him) reaching up to eat some of the nice tender leaves off the treee?  The grass is still pretty dry and brown, but the leaves are starting to bud on the trees.

Besides the fog this morning, there was frost.  All these pretty little plants, cloaked in ice (or at least very cold dew), as well as this brilliant leaf edged in frost and laying in the frozen grass.  This makes me unabashedly happy, as I love cold weather and hope for it every day of my life.  I dream of snow like other people  dream of warm sunny beaches, and am thrilled when I finally get to pull out my jackets and sweaters and scarves.

Just down the road from the boy’s school, actually just across the street, are farmlands.  In today’s silvery mist, there was a feeling of magin in the fields, which are on the most fertile land in Florida.  Much of the produce you, in the rest of the country, buy in stores during the colder months is grown very close to here.  The fields right now don’t show much green, but within the next month, they will be bright with new growth.  I’m not sure what crops this field will hold, but within the county are strawberry fields, watermelon patches, peanut farms and all kinds of other wonders.  Not much of the commercial citrus comes from Alachua since we have a heavy freeze most years, but there is enough citrus around for personal use.

Across the street from those fields, I found this this perfect little road with sun streaming through the branches, mixing early morning gold with the green of the leaves and illuminating the layers of landscape.  Water rained down from the lower branches (from the rain last night?  the dew this morning?) as birds and squirrels hopped around within the leaves, softening the focus to give the view an unworldly feeling.  There is a feeling in the way the sun streaks through the leaves that reminds me of the kitchen in my grandmother’s house when I was a little girl.  She had a large window that looked out on a very large oak tree that filtered the light through its leaves, suffusing the kitchen with a green glow that played on her white enameled table and red tile floor.  Sitting at that kitchen table with that light was the height of happiness as a child.

The road that leads the way through the trees adds another dimension to the feeling of nostalgic desire this scene arouses in me, making me want to just follow it wherever it leads, leaving all the ragged ends of daily life behind.  Mayberry could be just around the bend, where things are simple and idyllic and authority figures are always good and always right and able to solve any problem.  Where the authority figures are not flawed humans, like me, struggling to figure out whether a child deserves the privilege they’re asking for, or whether they should be punished for some transgression.  This feels like an escape, like something within the frame feels as if untold happiness might be found at the end of that road, as if the core of your inner being might also be bathed in that early morning light if you were to just follow this path a little while.

Bet you weren’t expecting that!  Every time I do this drive, this building takes me by surprise.  It’s some kind of biological lab, in the middle of the farms and industrial stuff.  I love its incongruity, that in this hale and hearty landscape, someone attempted some kind of a modern design, light against heavy, a little tilt to the panels.  The building itself is not my favorite, but I love that it’s there.

Spider webs fascinate me, can you tell?  They are so delicate and intricate, but so strong.  Humans make things like this to be pretty, but spiders make them to be both homes and traps.  Most of us, myself included, really don’t want to be close to our food sources, and we certainly don’t want to live in the butcher’s shop, but spiders live right where they kill and prepare their food.  There’s a good possibility that they never even look at their homes, yet they construct them so perfectly and so beautifully that they take my breath away.

Florida owes its popularity to the railroads, so even though there are railroads everywhere, they contain a bit of Florida’s essence.  And they are so incredibly photogenic and evocative, a primary lesson in perspective.  There may also be a bit of a personal bias here, because I love railroads and trains.  I love the sounds they make, the goods they bring, the opportunities they provide and the dreams they can carry.  Railroad songs and railroad pictures and railroad stories are filled with such exquisite yearning, to run away from home and then to be carried home again.

Where you may find this beauty at your front door.

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