Apr 19th, 2004


I'm always hearing people say that the one thing they hate about Florida (aside from the utter incivility of our drivers) (and our dinosaur-sized cockroaches) (and the humidity) (and the heat), the Number One thing that they hate about Florida is that there is no change of season.

To those people I say: "Open your eyes, and your ears, and your noses." (I also say, "Shut your yap and go home then, and while you're at it, take all of your friends, too.)
It is spring here in my home, and it screams its presence at me as much as the cherry blossoms along the Potomac does to the folks up north. There are baby mangos clinging to the trees, and the branches are starting to droop from the weight. Orchids are blooming. There are Surinam cherries everywhere.

One of my favorite childhood foraging foods, I used to love to watch the looks on the other student's faces when I'd eat the cherries from the bush in front of the art studios at the University of Miami. To anyone born outside of their range, they look like the poster child for your parent's warning to never eat red berries from strange plants, it's probably poisonous.

There are sandhill cranes along the highway. I hear the metallic "Cheek" of the cardinals nesting out in the cherry hedges. The rare, or at least isolated population of Red-Whiskered Bulbuls has come back to my yard to eat the mulberries. The mulberries are staining my dog purple when he goes out to play in the back yard. Possums and raccoons are starting families, and so are out at night, looking for cat food, or at least garbage cans or bugs.

The air is starting to get heavy and moist, more palpable against your skin. Soon the rains will come, and every afternoon the storms will build up out west, over the Everglades, and move across to the sea. With that comes the smell of wet and salt and rotting foliage.

And that, my dear blind and deaf friends, is how you know that spring has come to South Florida.