Summer Buzz

Yesterday was summer solstice–the longest day of the year. It was also the hottest day we’ve had. My AC ran continually and I actually adjusted the shades to limit the sunshine. (Anyone who knows me well knows I thrive in my bright, sunlit home.) The plants wilted and so did my attitude as I began calculating what was left of summer and the poor plans I’ve made to rest and recharge. It didn’t help in learning before I left campus that all the meetings and planning for fall will begin in just a few weeks. I felt as if time were running out!

So my brooding built and escalated with the heat of the day. The summer solstice concluded with heat lightning and severe thunderstorms. Again, it matched my mood until, like the denouement in a story, I took action to better balance my “life wheel” and make a few plans for R&R. That emotional storm changed the “heat” I’d been feeling.

Today is a fresh day, cleansed by the rain. Today I’m tending thirsty plants on the lanai and listening to the buzz of insects. I love this part of summer. I love the sounds, which change during midday because it becomes too hot for the squirrels to chase each other through the trees. Too hot for the usual sounds of dogs or people. Even the splashing from the pool next to my building ceases for several hours.

But I’m tuned into the sound of the summer buzz. The whir of the insects intensifies and grows slightly louder with the heat. (One of these days my curiosity will draw me into investigating exactly what/how that sound is made and by which insects. For now, though, I focus on fiction over nonfiction.) With each cycle of the whirring insects, I am transported to the scenes from my W-I-P. What sounds does my character hear now? What does she smell?

Later I’ll also visit the created worlds of two clients and ask the same questions about sensory details. Today I am focused more on sounds than on other senses because the insects have guided me to notice sounds.

All that matters now is that it’s summer, I love the heat, and story ideas are buzzing through my thoughts. This is happiness. This is one way I want to spend my time. This makes summer wonderful.

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Shades of Green

My sister was in town a few weeks ago and stayed with me. While she was here we took a walk through the community where I live and something she said has struck a cord that continues to resonate.

The day of our walk was a typipop of purple in greenerycally bright, beautiful day in southern Florida and she marveled at all the colors in the beautifully landscaped yards and common areas. “Even the greens are colorful; there are so many shades of green.”

She’s right. I recall noticing the same thing when I first moved here, but I’ve since taken it for granted. She’s from Michigan and at this time of year even green with a few pops of pink, yellow, or purple from flowering trees is “colorful” compared to gray skies and brown, leafless trees and dead grass.

Though these photos barely reveal the vibrant colors and shades she saw, they do show the landscaping were I live which  is thick with tropical plants and trees. The greens vary from liCommunity landscapingght to dark, drab and dusky with yellows and browns in equally varied shades.

I recall being struck by how much green I noticed all around me after moving to Florida. Then I noticed how vivid the greens looked and how many green plants thrived side-by-side, yet the palette was far from boring. It reminded me of my favorite box of  Crayola crayons I had as a kid–the largest one with the sharpener on the back and the rows of green in various shades. Olive green, forest green, blue-green, yellow-green, (not to be confused with green-blue or green-yellow, which were slightly different shades), pine green, Screamin’ green, ultra green, and I’m sure the list goes on.

I guess I needed the reminder that I’m lucky to view a tremendous palette of color  every day and should show some gratitude. Sometimes it’s nice to see our daily lives through the eyes of a visitor.

Messages from Nature

Nature centers me. It always has; I recall spending summer afternoons gazing at the clouds, looking for images as they slowly billowed and rolled across the sky or traipsing through fields investigating bugs and plants up close. So, spending a few minutes watching the leaves blow or an anhinga drying itself at the pond resets my internal frenzy to “calm.”

This morning I came eye-to-eye with a morning dove as it clung to the screen on my lanai. It remained there even when I moved closer to the screen. I could see the unique coloring of its feathers and imagine how soft they’d feel. What an amazing gift to watch it up-close for close to five minutes!

Last week I came face-to-face with a rabbit as I was leaving for campus. I’ve seen a hare across the fairway at dusk and watch a variety of birds and squirrels from my lanai each day, but I’ve never seen a rabbit.

I was amazed that it didn’t hop away, startled when I emerged from the stairwell. Instead, it startled me. It did hop about three feet toward a hedge, then continued cleaning itself, much as my cats used to do. Was it someone’s pet, set loose on the golf course that winds among the condos and villas around here? It seemed so tame, too used to a human infringing on its morning routine.

Wanting to observe it, I wandered around to the other side of the hedge and watched it. It paused to look at me but quickly continued grooming, exactly as my cats would have done.

My mood was lightened by this encounter, since I don’t have time to enjoy coffee on the lanai while watching wildlife on the days I teach College Writing Skills. Then I recalled about a month ago when one of the writers in my critique group brought a novel that caused our conversation to turn to animal totems. Where these wildlife run-ins simply a way to connect with nature? Or is there a message for deeper meaning behind them?

I’ve heard that air animal totems are supposed to be “winks from God” which is why many people report seeing a unique bird or white dove visiting them after the loss of a loved one. I felt encouraged by the visit from this morning dove. But what message might this rabbit be trying to send me? Why hadn’t it hopped away? Aren’t rabbits as skittish as squirrels? Instead, I was the one startled.

I considered this as I drove to campus. Life lately has been intense and ultra busy; season generally provides a full schedule but this year was busier than usual. Perhaps I’m supposed to slow down and trust my gut, like the rabbit; no need to flee unless there’s danger. On the tails of that schedule the summer is promising to be filled with family events and positive news. (One of my books is finally making it to print and I’m looking forward to an upcoming conference when I’ll get to see a good friend.) Maybe a sense of peace, anticipation, and celebration is what these creatures were trying to tell. That sounds like a good story to believe in. I’ll trust in it.