For a few hours beautiful fall weather is gracing northwest Florida. It’s seventy degrees, with a light wind and sunny skies. Is this almost Christmas or still Indian Summer?
The dogs enjoyed playing in the leaves this morning, their coats littered with bits and pieces of dried debris. The weather for the most part is immaterial to them, as long as it isn’t raining or humid. They took turns rolling and tumbling each other, or playing a game of chase around the trees. For the moment the squirrels above are forgotten and are safe.
The Camellia tree is starting to bloom, which it usually does in January. Its stunning pink flowers will eventually envelop the entire tree. I’m told my Camellia is really a bush, that it must be really old to be a small tree. I’d love to have more Camellia bushes in the front yard. In spite of the mess they make when the blossoms fall, their color in the usually dark, gray, and cold January is a welcome sign that spring is coming, that the time is near to order garden seeds, and make landscaping plans for the spring.
My potted mint located on the edge of the driveway is still going strong, vibrant and green, as well as the little wild flowers that grow in the lawn, stubborn plants that defy the dog’s efforts to kill them. Their purple color reminds me of wild daisies.
The green buds on the Rose of Sharon branches are confused, opening too early, awakening for spring. It too is an old bush that I have trimmed and kept alive over the years. In the summer it rewards me with big purple flowers.
Two annuals, a Lantana plant in a tall upright, green concrete pipe and a group of Petunia’s in concrete blocks are also hanging on, refusing to accept that winter is here, that they must die and become mulch, two annuals willing the light and warmth of Indian Summer to stay.
Inside the sun room my Begonia has blossomed with vibrant orange flowers. It was dormant for many months and I was afraid it would die. Now I’ll have to learn how to take cuttings as it is overflowing its pot and drapes onto the cat’s window seat.
My numerous pots of African Violets are cuttings of cuttings. They love the south-facing window and thrive in the egg water I give them every other day. But what am I to do with so many of their healthy children? The African Violets I love so much are in memory of my Grandma Ada, who lectured me on their care: filtered sun, egg water and propagation through cuttings.
Today I sit in the sun, surrounded by all the colors of the plants and bushes, feeling a false sense of happiness that spring will be here in a week or two. But there is much darkness, wind, rain and cold to endure first. The winter storms must first come and purge the bright flowers of their beauty and strip away our hardened souls. Only then can we appreciate the awakening of spring, a season of hope, new beginnings and the reward of long, warm days of summer.