With days in the low 80s and the night lows inching into the mid 60s, the sound of frogs has begun to fill the evenings and the first halves of the nights. The combination of frog utterances is musical. It will continue to grow through mid-summer and more insects will join in as spring unfolds. These music-makers seem to embrace the natural darkness with its dearth of man made light. And the night sky is truly stunning in this rural less-developed area--the star show is amazing--the darkness is as intense as in the large wilderness swaths out west.
The spring here seems especially welcome this year. Not that many weeks ago the area experienced repeated nights well below freezing and even a bit of snow fell about 30 miles to the north. But somehow preparations for spring hardly missed a beat over on the Brown's Farm only about 15 minutes away. They managed to get all the cool season vegetables planted and keep the strawberries on target for early yields. The result has been a bounty of leaf lettuces, cauliflowers, broccoli, kale, bok choi and berries. Oh if only our ornamental plant production didn't make it so hard to grow early season produce. Alas, we enjoyed the feast.
As we leave, the open live oak/long leaf pine and wire grass forest is resonating with the calls of a pair of sandhill cranes. Whether these birds are permanent area dwellers or migrants like us anticipating the trip north we can't say. But as we leave this unlikely paradise we hope to soon hear migrating flocks of sandhill cranes with their distinctive cries high above the Farm winging their way further north.
Our journey homeward begins in earnest after a late morning lunch at a cute rather more urban-influenced cafe in pretty traditional rural Florida county seat. We drive north through a lovely warm day. Several hours after the onset of darkness it grows cooler and rain begins south of Nashville, Tennessee. The showers continue as temperatures hover around 40 degrees for the rest of the night. We rest in Paducah, Kentucky, where the Ohio River is in flood and expected to rise higher.
Morning dawns gray and the trip up our tall state continues with spotty showers and temperatures around 40 degrees. By mid-afternoon we arrive at the Farm and unload plants from a Florida grower and some items we found on the trip to enhance our displays. The Farm's parking lot is soft and damp, though all of the snow is gone. It's not very pretty but there is a sense of fading winter and nascent spring is in the air. It feels like planting time. And I guess that means it's time to get back to work. I think I am ready.