I saw the gopher tortoise; seeing the broader view; appreciating the seasons

Yesterday afternoon I finally saw the big turtle that has several burrows on my property.  I was doing a lap around the yard to water in the new jasmine cuttings.  The night blooming jasmine will root anywhere I put it, as long as I give it enough water.  I have several dozen cuttings down in the yard right now.  I heard a crashing sound under my office window and looked to see a big gopher tortoise crashing through the dried leaves.   I had not seen this one before, although I discovered two sets of burrows when I was clearing the property in November.  I could tell by the burrow size about how big the turtle would be.  But I was surprised how heavy s/he was.  I should have turned it over to see the bottom of the shell to determine the sex, but I was just thinking to move it from one side of the driveway to the other to save it the long trip to the safety of the side yard.  I see I’ve cut down some palmettos that haven’t come back yet, which produce saw palmetto berries, which the turtle eats. I have to remember as I cut my paths, that I may be affecting someone else’s food source by my design decisions.  Everything is beginning to come back in full force except the west stand of palmettos.  I cut them way, way back in November and cut many of the stumps as well.  Even though I love my woods, I wanted to open up my yard for a season and be able to see more of it and see farther than I had before.  I am blessed that to the west and east of me are several lots of woods, so I can get the feeling of being more secluded and hidden than I actually am.  Sometimes I like to feel hidden away and private and sometimes I like to open the yard up and be able to play frisbee and foxtail in the back yard.

I’d decided to remove one area about 12×12 feet of palmettos to open up the yard.  With the palmettos cut, I could clearly see the pathways and the burrows.  From inside the house, with the palmettos gone, I could see a much wider expanse of land.  My eye didn’t stop at a wall of palmetto fronds.  I could see well into the next lot and beyond.  When the animals went down the trails, my eye could follow them clear into the next lot.  I liked being able to see farther than I had before.  I liked that broader view.

I like the fact that we have seasons.  I like knowing that in November the plant growth will slow down, and the mowing drops from once a week to once a month.  I like knowing that, even though the trees may become sparse of leaves and the bamboo mere sticks in the air in what passes for wintertime here in the sub tropics, new growth will come on again in springtime.  After the hurricanes of 2004, my oaks and pines took a couple of years to come back from their little shock.  The storms cleared a lot of deadfall, and shocked so much of the smaller branches that I lost many of them in the next couple of years.  There was lots of continuing deadfall, and the sky opened up with each one, but this past year there have been many strong new branches growing. The oaks are just this year back to being completely full of dense leaves, making a nice dark canopy in the east yard.

I’m glad to clear away the deadfall, and I’m glad to see the new growth.  I appreciate there had to be a wintertime, to enrich the soil for Spring.  I appreciate the process.  I appreciate the seasons.  Not just the weather, in my life also.  I know that anything I goof up merely fuels tomorrow’s transformation.  I know my yesterdays do not have to be my tomorrows.  I know every new beginning starts right now.

I hope to see you at the downtown Melbourne Art Fest, and the Free Market.