Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wonders of Nature

Internet too spotty to load songs. Sorry.

Florida needs no zoo. Not when a simple morning walk yields the following: a baby armadillo scouting its breakfast by the edge of the sidewalk, two sandhill cranes standing at the cart path, watching the golfers drive by. Even the leaf you are about to kick off the concrete turns out to be an insect momentarily away from its context.

The screech from the dark swamp, the rustle in the brush, the memory from a decade ago of a small herd of something racing across the road, a something I’ve never solved. The slender head that emerges from the pond then slides back in. Sometimes, nothing but a pair of ominous nostrils.

The squirrel looks out of place. You worry for the dog that gets off its leash.

The fronds that fall from palm trees curl like the carcasses of dead animals; every twig in your path gets a second look to make sure it isn’t a snake. Instead of trash, you see along the raised roadways, white egrets with their long, slender necks wading in the water that collects after every rain.

And the lizards. Are everywhere. Tan and brown and green and large and small and daring and tentative and shy and confrontational, the last holding their ground before you with puffed up chins.

At sunset, drive to the jetty to watch the dolphins surface and dive, to see the seabirds fish, to laugh at the inelegant pelican whom evolution has not taught how to land on water with grace.

At night, you return to your third floor, and there at the top of the stairs awaits a translucent toad, whose inexplicable climb has brought him as far away from nature as he can get.

Which isn’t far. Each morning, like the swarms of gardeners covering Gatsby’s property to repair the damages of another party, the workers spread out on their machines to trim, cut, edge, water, mow, and restore order.

But everything knows. We all know.

This manicure of the earth is the most temporary of all efforts down here. Let man shape and plant the earth, give it paths and orderly trees and made pools of water, and still the gators will settle in, the birds will build their homes among the line of palms, the lizards will find their way through window cracks and brief door openings, and all the vegetation that waits on the sidelines will creep forward like a tropical glacier.

Unless certainty somehow trumps mystery. Unless design matters more than spontaneity. Unless patient eyes find no reward of beauty. Florida needs no zoo.



George Dyer said...

thought I was reading Annie Dillard there for a moment.

Daisy said...


Do you ever go to Asheville? I just experienced a restaurant there. I think you might like. Looks like a dive tastes like a dream!

troutking said...

Don't forget about the daily natural migrations of old people down there too: up at 4am for high fiber breakfast, watch daytime talk shows, walk to the deli at lunch for a schmear, Matlock reruns in the afternoon, drive (slowly) to the early bird specials at 4:30, home before dark.

Bob said...

George, Hard to turn down an Annie dillard comparison!

Daisy, yes. Haven't been for a few years but would love to hear about it. Liked that Tupelo Honey. Is it still there?

Trout, the problem is if you keep coming here you get to join the migration

Daisy said...

I think Tupelo honey is still there, but haven't been. The Admiral is in West Asheville which was a little sketchy looking (at least in the dark) but had very unique and delicious food. Foi Gras isn't excatly what I was expecting from a cinder block building! The description on the website pretty much sums it up.

Bob said...

Thanks, Daisy. Maybe the next time the Obamas are there, that's where I'll take them!

Daisy said...

Well, it would be a helluva lot easier to secure than the Biltmore!

John said...

George, I had the same thought, exactly.