Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Under the Camphor Tree

Surely a connection to the absence of noise and distraction, the days here in the Florida wilds far removed from city sights and sounds pass like the slow drip of honey from the comb. On most days, with coffee and toast I sit at the backyard table before the sun is a hand span above the horizon, a line of sight blocked by a thousand old oaks. But while the horizon is hidden from my view, the first light of morning weaves its way through those trees and floods speckled and golden across my yard, a slow moving kaleidoscope of flickering sunlight. For a long hour the morning creeps lovingly across what could be an uninhabited world, the silence unbroken by birds or the hum of insects. The only things moving are light and breeze, both a gentle stimulus in the stirring of a new day.

With the turning of the hour countless voices rise from trees and grass, the slow arrival of a soundtrack that would deafen if ever connected to amplifiers. In no time a crowded community of life is moving about the trees, clicking, rasping and chittering in the grass, while in my ear the annoying buzz of mosquitos stops and starts between slaps and waving hands. Soon the ground around the bird feeder is busy with five or more redbirds, perhaps another one or two at the feeder tossing down sunflower seeds to mates below. At one time I had little admiration for the female redbird, counting it a dull opposite to the dazzling male. Not the case any longer. The close by abundance of these feathered beauties has shown me that in subtle coloration the darker female is the true beauty.

Today I spied a large, black beetle with white spots rolling a ball of dung through the grass. I could see nearby where the beetle’s prize had come from and for a moment thought a dog had been in my fenced yard. I’ve read sparingly of dung beetles but had never before seen one at work. First thought was of how the beetle had managed to get his cargo so perfectly round.

Busy at one time scaring a pesky squirrel off the bird feeder, Mr Ryder’s BBs whizzing past his furry butt, I caught sight of a small bird not more than six feet away. Nuzzling new shoots on a large bush I haven’t identified yet, it appeared to be searching for nectar. Totally unbothered by my nearness, it continued searching, giving me a chance to see its color patterns clearly: a small bird with gray back and wings, white breast and pale yellow at the throat, it also had a faint patch of yellow on its back; a bird smaller even than a sparrow. I tried looking it up online, but none of the  sites I looked at had an adequate search engine. Every description I typed in came up blank.

Blank. A good word to describe my understanding of the many sights and sounds coloring this new life out among the frogs and leaping lizards. Little by little, day by day the mysteries will be unveiled.


  1. Oh yes, I adore your colorful and descriptive analysis!!!!
    Lady Absolut!!!!!

  2. Outstanding post, particularly the first paragraph, an example of the economy of language and choosing the rights words for the most concrete picture in the reader's mind. Well done. I also delight in your discovery of the ourdoor life around you, dung beetles and the always entertaining and beautiful birds. Welcome to where man was originally most comfortable, as just one part of the natural world.

  3. Sounds lovely. Perhaps your little bird visitor is a type of finch?

  4. Four days without a post? Hmmm...I fear the squirrels have tied up our friend in the Spanish moss and made off with the giant bag of birdseed.
    I only hope the guy who mows for beer will find him in time...

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America