Fruitful

IMGP6958My lime tree has fruit on it!  As I was walking past, inhaling the beautiful scent of its blossoms, I noticed a little green bulb at the tip of a branch.  The more I looked, the more I found.

IMGP6961Many times over the last three years, I have despaired of ever seeing fruit on this tree.  Most citrus takes three years to produce, but one of the reasons I bought this lime tree was that I was told it would be able to bear fruit right away.  When it didn’t the first year, I wasn’t terribly surprised.  After all, it had just been transplanted.

IMGP6962Last year, I had a brief hope that I would see some limes when it bloomed a few tentative blooms, but they were blown off by a violent storm and nothing more happened.  Since then, I have started using the citrus fertilizer on the tree regularly, and have been thrilled with the growth.  I don’t know whether it was that or maturity that led to the apparent bounty it holds right now, or a combination of the two.

IMGP6969Even way down at the bottom of the tree, where it seems that the sun might not hit, I am seeing little limes.  This may be my most thrilling gardening moment ever!

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Wild!

IMGP6945Out in his native habitat, the jungle of my back yard, Tom-the-cat lets his instincts prevail.  He perches on the fence, watching for the perfect bird to happen by so he can pounce.  The intensity of his green eyes is matched only by his love of comfort.  As soon as he saw me with my camera, he leapt down and ran to the door for his evening meal.

Mockingbird Lane

IMGP6931I saw a little mockingbird, sitting on a sign, singing all his favorite tunes.  “Teakettle, teakettle!  Vireo, vireo!  Cheater, cheater, cheater!”  I’m not sure who he was trying to meet, because he was calling to everyone in town.  I took one step too many and he flew away.

For Bitsy

IMGP6736Earlier today I found out that my mother’s wonderful cousin and friend for life, Bitsy, passed away.  I can’t claim to have been extraordinarily close to her myself, but I remember her well and always enjoyed her company.

IMGP6708Her life never struck me as an easy one, but she was always cheerful, and probably much nicer to me than I ever deserved.  When I was a kid, Bitsy would bring her mother, my grandmother’s sister, and her brother, and her sons to visit when we would go to my grandmother’s house on vacation.  Her mother had dementia, her brother had suffered a devastating head injury, and her sons and I did not get along.  They were not my favorite people to see.

IMGP6713She took care of all of them just because she loved them and could take care of them.  I can’t remember ever hearing her complain.  I did.  I complained a lot about her mother and her brother and having to even see them.  I hope that it was never in her hearing.

IMGP6743Later on, when I moved in with my mother after divorce, she would visit my mother, and I always loved her visits.  Cheerful, bright, always sparkling, she loved my wild boys, and I could see why my mother had always been friends with her.  She was fearless, just like my mother.  I could picture her running wild through the woods of Bohemia, and taking up the dares I’m sure my mother threw at her.

IMGP6739The last years of her life were apparently spent in great pain, which saddens me terribly.  She deserved the best in life, and maybe, through all her hardships, she got it.  She passed away surrounded by family, and was loved even by those who barely knew her.  That surely matters more than having an easy life.

My Emerald City

IMGP6605 IMGP6576Spring is everywhere around me right now, in an amazing show of vibrant greens that come of having had a cold early winter.  Forget the Wizard’s castle made of stones; my city is full of trees and trails and adventures.

IMGP6496We headed out to San Felasco up in Alachua, where my son had recently seen a bison, hoping that I would see one, too.  That wasn’t in the cards, but the trail had a feeling of magic to it, bursting with new greens so bright they almost hurt.

IMGP6545 IMGP6523 IMGP6512Arches through the wood give way to moss-covered stones touched by the glow of the spring sun.  Around every bend, I expected to meet with a fairy or leprechaun.  The leaves on the ground added to the hushed feeling of the forest.

IMGP6581Can’t you just see Jesse and Leslie slipping across the tree bridge on their way to Terabithia?

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The late afternoon sun turned the leaves to gold, signaling that it was time to return home again.

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Foraging For Flowers

IMGP6436Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved seeing roadside flowers.  I would beg my father to pull over so I could pick them, and he often would.  You can’t really do that many places anymore, but I still love to see them blooming.

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With most of the world covered in snow (or at least, much of the US still feeling winter), I thought it was time to bring you a post about the wildflowers that have been showing up in my (too) warm part of the world.

IMGP6427 IMGP6414 IMGP6453 IMGP6407March is one of my favorite months for flowers, because this is when many of the smaller flowers appear, when it is still relatively mild.  This is also the time of year you are most likely to see blue-toned flowers, rather than the reds and oranges of summer.  Blues and purples have always been my favorite flowers, but they are not as common in Florida’s heat as they are in many other places.

IMGP6418Many of the prettiest flowers are considered weeds, like these little daisies.  I know from experience that they can be awful in the yard, since they choke out many of the other plants and end up being ugly twigs covered in prickles, but the flowers themselves are pretty and cheerful.

IMGP6448Sweet peas have a special place in my heart.  They were always one of the seed packets my sister and I would pick out with great hope in our attempts to garden as children.  I don’t remember most of our flowers growing very well, but the peas in the garden my father would plant had very similar flowers.  We would gorge ourselves on those peas out in the garden, and if any of them actually made it to the kitchen, it was only because we were too full to eat the last one.

 

On the Fence

IMGP6271I looked out my window and saw a female cardinal hopping around my back yard.  Actually, I saw a whole family, but it was the female who caught my eye, because they look very much like cedar waxwings who stop by to eat my cedar berries this time of year.  She didn’t want to stop to have her photo taken, but I captured her as she flew into my palm tree.

IMGP6272In my pursuit of the cardinal, I almost missed this little yellow rumped warbler sitting on my fence.  The cardinal flew away when I opened my back door, but the warbler stayed on the fence.

Memories of Running

IMGP6253When I was younger, when running meant everything to me, there was a street I always loved to run down in the spring.  Ohio Street in my hometown of Arlington, Virginia, was lined with azaleas, huge bushes that were taller than I was, with blossoms in every color.  Some of the flowers were small, some were larger, some were single blooms, some were doubles.  Even in an area where azaleas were fairly common, this was something special.

IMGP6242I don’t know why all the neighbors on that street decided to outdo each other with azaleas instead of daffodils or tulips or lush green lawns, but I was always glad they did.  There was something magical about running down that stretch of road while the azaleas bloomed.  Azaleas in bloom still make me want to lace up my running shoes and follow the road wherever it may take me.

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Portrait of a Vulture

IMGP6154The misunderstood vulture is an important part of the ecosystem.  They are not the prettiest birds, and they really stink, but every time I see them eating a carcass by the side of the road, I am reminded that without them, our world would smell a lot more.  Here in Florida, it doesn’t take long for rot to set in, and smells can travel quickly in the heat.

IMGP6152In between feedings, vultures congregate on fences or the grass, usually near roads.  Cars have made it pretty easy for them to know where their next meal is coming from.