By now, Floridians have settled into summer: Weekly lawn mowing, evening frog serenades and afternoon storms. Five of my sunflowers survived the seed-eating squirrels, leaf-chewing grasshoppers and tropical storm Debby. They're as wonderful as I imagined, massive buds forming, then turning to face the sun before opening and sprouting lemony petals. The dramatic early morning shadows on the back fence are an unexpected bonus. The squirrels and grasshoppers are fat and I'm a happy gardener. I hope to offer the seedpods to wildlife and save a few seeds for next year.
Local creeks, dried to a trickle through winter and spring, are now full and flowing. We pass streams along three of our walking routes. This one is on a deadend country road and bisects two properties. Just past the creek is a fenced-wooded area where morning mist rises from a pond at it's center. It seems the ideal setting for knights to camp in a historical novel or fairies to flit in a fantasy. This squirrel deemed it the perfect breakfast spot! At the end of the road, we passed a sandhill crane family munching bugs in a cow pasture.
Several weeks ago, we spotted a peahen with seven chicks, six brown and one white. I was delighted with the tiny hatchlings and didn't pay close attention to the mother. This weekend we stumbled upon this mama with her brood. I can't be sure it's the same family but the one white chick makes me think it is. It's sad to think just four of her babies survived. The mama is the only buff-colored peahen I've seen. She stayed well ahead of us and three of her chicks scurried after her. But not the fellow below. He strolled toward the camera and eyeballed it. He deserves his own picture book, don't you think?
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor