We live in the sub-tropics and many think that we don’t have seasons. We do and perhaps Spring is the most glorious. Of course, one of the harbingers of spring is the change of bird populations. I’m really aware of only a few: our lovely little yellow warblers pass through (see 9 May post) and the pelicans and black vultures depart. As I drove across the causeway the other day on my weekly foray for groceries, I was very aware of their absence. The graceful frigatebirds were sailing high above the traffic.
Several flowering plants in the yards of our neighborhood announce the coming of spring and its arrival. In January, the clerodendron quadriloculare explodes in wild blooms living up to its colloquial name, starburst bush. I was given my starter about fifteen years ago by a student’s mother. Her house was surrounded by these lovely plants with their broad leaves, green on top and purple below. It propagates through the roots, so I am proud to claim parentage of those popping up in neighboring yards.
Fruit trees start getting active early in the spring. Probably about ten years ago, I planted an avocado in our yard, replacing a tamarind that went down in a hurricane. This avocado has not been good to us, considering all the care I lavish on it. This year, our errant friend was covered with flowers and new leaf growth. The largest number of fledgling fruits appeared in late March.
The number slowly decreased as the season progressed. These last few days, we’ve suffered furious rain storms, harbingers of rainy season beginning today. I regret to report that the last of this year’s still-born avocados have given up the ghost. I’ll still talk to the tree and care for it in hopes of another year!
Another fruit found in abundance all over the community is the amazing mango. Though I’ve dreamed of a tree in our yard, I’ve never taken the step. I rely on the kindness and mercy of friends who share their annual bounty. From the time of the ethereal, feathery blooms, which set off some allergies, to the fruiting of this rich and marvelous fruit, you know summer is coming. Many varieties of mangos on the market were developed here in South Florida.
Two of my favorite signs of approaching summer are the Royal Poncianas and jacarandas. The sight of the horizontally spreading their covered by flaming blooms can be breathtaking. They start in early to mid-May and sometimes the flowers hand through the entire summer before being overtaken by the incoming green leafs. We’ll see how long the sight lasts this year.
My drive to work at the university over ten years included a heavily trafficked road alongside one of the many canals installed to drain the Everglades. The opposite side of the canal was rich in backyard foliage, including Poncianas. They were the inspiration for one glass on glass mosaic I made.
I first saw jacarandas in Sydney, Australia. Purple is my favorite color; their bright purple blooms drew me in. I saw them next in a museum courtyard in Namibia. Again, the profusion of purple attracted me. The golf course across from our house and several yards in the neighborhood host these beautiful trees that also announce the full arrival of spring. On a recent walking tour (I am a tour guide when our city is in full working order), a knowledgeable guest pointed out that a tree with bright yellow foliage was a yellow jacaranda. As they say, you learn something new every day!
Speaking of neighborhood, a while ago I wrote about sights in our neighborhood (see 15 April post). Here’s two more. One of the features found on the historic houses built in Mediterranean revival style is low relief friezes, often floral in design. Eddy Arcaro was one of America’s greatest jockeys; he rode thoroughbreds from the 30s til the 60s. When I was a kid, I was horse crazy, like many girls and that’s a name the stuck with me. Arcaro retired to Miami and died here. The corner turret of this house down the street and around a corner sports the figure of a horseman. When I first saw it many years ago, a colleague told that Arcaro was known to have visited that house.
One of the motifs associated with Art Deco, another significant architectural feature of our city, is called the “frozen fountain.” It’s a symmetrical composition popularized by René Lalique found in ironwork, in stucco friezes, and elsewhere. Here it appears in one of the many manhole covers created by Garren Owens in 2007, Urban Deco, as part of the Art in Public Place program in our city. This one is near the Eddy Arcaro house. Others are found in the city’s art deco district.
Today, June 1, starts the official 2020 hurricane season. When the storms hit, we also remain sequestered in our homes. By now, as Week 11 starts with some fits and starts of going back to work, we continue to enjoy the comfort of home.