One of the modern markers of spring, most anywhere, is the appearance of waves and waves of flowers at one’s local garden center. They are breath-taking, and they stir in me a yen to get outside and dig. One clear bright morning this week, after a soaking rain, I stopped into my local store just to whet my appetite – I couldn’t help myself – and was handsomely rewarded. Dazzling pinks, luscious oranges, creamy whites, sunny yellows, all fresh and dewy in that morning light.
Before I knew it, out came the camera and I was happily snapping away. Something felt odd, though, and I glanced around me. Sure enough, a worker was keeping an eye on me. I wasn’t ready to stop shooting, but now I became furtive. I placed a few flats of annuals in my shopping cart and waited for him to move out of sight before continuing. Eventually I paid for my selections and left. I was happy with my photographic harvest that day, but it felt a bit like plunder. For the life of me, I can’t work out why that is. Is it stealing if the victim lost nothing?
Like most everyone else, I love the beach – especially along the Atlantic Ocean. On windy days, with a wind from the east, the waves are excited, building momentum, merging, crashing, tossing spray and running frantically up the packed sand, forcing awareness. They are insistent that way, like my daughter at five, relentlessly coming at me, demanding my full attention and rewarding that attention with a raw breathless energy. But on days when there is a soft westerly breeze, all is different. The sea is meditating – breathing softly – each exhale a sigh. The waves are there but quieter and more orderly, falling forward in slow motion, creating a series of soft fading whispers that demand nothing.
We recently spent three days in Vero Beach. Photo-wise, I came away with only this quirky image I made during breakfast at the hotel, from the beach-side patio. It is an odd photo, but it captures that beachy feeling. There are sailing pelicans and palm trees and a little piece of ocean in the corner, providing context.
A beach-side breakfast is my personal definition of hedonism, for what could be better – sandy flip-flops, tee shirt and shorts, sunglasses, soft breeze and the sound of those meditating waves. And an ice-cold glass of fresh orange juice. I could sit there all morning until the lunch menu comes out, switching contentedly to a Bloody Mary. It’s all too delicious.
When you have tritanomaly, blue often looks green. You observe enough raised eyebrows and you lose confidence in your ability to tell the difference. You begin consulting a non-afflicted expert when the difference matters, like picking out shoes to match your shirt. But if you see blue and I see green, who is correct? Well, since only one in 10,000 of us is a tritanope, correctness always resides with the majority – the non-afflicted.
Does it matter what we label colors? I don’t think so, generally. But on this one day of the year, if you are of Irish descent, getting it right matters.
If I ever leave Florida again, I think what I would miss most is the Sabal Palm, known to some as the Cabbage Palm. Admittedly, there are more elegant palms here, but for me the Sabal is the most expressive. It looks a bit like a cross between a giraffe and Red Fraggle, but in a good way. In spite of its seeming fragility, it has evolved to deal with the periodic pounding of tropical storms. It is exuberant, dancing to the beat of its own drummer – standing tall or twisting and bending in response to some unseen influence, occasionally hugging tightly to a nearby oak.
I can see a line of arching Sabal Palms from my pillow. The palms come close to our screened porch, not quite touching it but leaning in gracefully and in unison. At first light, I can hear squirrels scampering across their crowns, so close together are they. On these spring nights when the doors to the screened porch are flung wide, the palms transport me far south to some balmy and untouched tropical island and I fall asleep to the sound of softly rustling fronds.
I stopped in front of a nondescript booth, my attention drawn by an old clarinet resting in its frayed case. A long-put-aside memory from grade school flickered bravely in my head. “Do you play?” I turned toward a grey-haired woman with a pleasant smile, aging but (as I remind myself often these days) probably no older than I. “No, not really. Just in the 4th grade”. We traded grade school clarinet memories, hers much better-formed than mine. Feeling comfortable now, I asked her what I’d been wanting to ask vendors all day – why was she here? She said that she was downsizing and keen on simplifying her life, and that she needed to get rid of things she had accumulated over the years.
Oh, the irony. Here was a flea market extravaganza, with over 800 vendors displaying wares for thousands of shoppers over three days, all there to buy this same “stuff” and take it home, adding it to their lives – bottles and buckets, knick-knacks, yard art, old croquet sets and family photos of someone else’s family. Acres and acres of stuff. I watched a woman buy a 60’s-vintage plastic alarm clock, saying to her husband, “My mom and dad had this exact alarm clock next to their bed!” What was she going to do with that clock?
Of course, I’m supposed to be culling this year. After 6 hours shopping and observing, I bought nothing except for lunch. All I brought home were photos. Like a moth drawn to a flame, though, I’m sure I’ll return next year.