Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Saint Swithin's Day - Not Groundhog Day, But Almost.

St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain.
St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain no more.

On this day we in Florida are watching tropical storm (hurricane?) Emily, the follow-up storm to Hurricane Dennis which grazed our coast several days ago.

We're still agog at the frequency of named and serious storms courting Florida this early in the hurricane season.

A Certain Shade of Yellow

For the past few weeks yellow lotus has been blooming en masse in areas of Payne's Prairie where the season's exceptionally high water has created open pools in the otherwise vegetated expanse.

The yellow blooms of this common freshwater aquatic, as seen in the summer sunshine evoke the yellow seen in the belly plumage of a common seasonal bird resident in these parts: the Great Crested Flycatcher. A family of this species is to be seen most afternoons lately, flailing about in the dusty sand at the very entrance to our driveway in Evinston, Florida. One young bird is particularly bold, and waits until the last possible second before flitting off and lighting on a close branch or hanging fox grape vine until my truck passes by. I won't speculate on the sex of this cheeky and brave bird.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday Gleanings

The past two days we've enjoyed homemade blueberry syrup over French toast. Geena and Brian here in Evinston have been supplying the community for the past month with large sweet berries from their home patch. Each morning Brian brings a tray of pints into the Wood and Swink store, where they quickly sell out.

Yesterday I gleaned some carrots and onions from Freddy Wood's garden spot behind the Wood and Swink store. The end of their harvest had come and Freddy plowed the field under. The carrots went straight to Bun-Bun, the Clog-wife's big indestructable white rabbit. The onions found their way into some fresh pico de gallo salsa and the soup that I am tending right now.

I chopped the onions and browned them in a little chicken fat (previously rendered with onions and kept in the ice-box), added a chopped celery stalk and a little diced tomato. When all had caramelized together I added salt, pepper, and a few cups of water. When the stock has simmered for a couple of hours I'll strain it, put it in a ceramic casserole, top with toasted rye bread and mozarella, and bake for a few minutes.

Voila'. Onion soup for a rainy day.

Hurricane Dennis and Red Sox Update

Sunday, 1:15 p.m.: Hurricane Dennis marched north during the night. There were a few episodes of rainy gusts that knocked a few branches from the trees but it was otherwise a calm night. The downed branches are mostly deadwood from the tops of the trees, and none hit our vehicles or roof.

It is very dark and overcast as you'd expect. The humidity in the air has turned the outdoors into the Life Aquatic. All the house windows are covered with condensation making us feel fogbound inside the house.

The Orioles trounced the Red Sox yesterday, powered by Rafael Palmeiro's 565th homer and 6 RBI's. Palmeiro is now 3 hits away from the impressive 3000 career hits benchmark. Even more impressive is that in the next game or two, Palmeiro will get those three hits, and join Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray in that exclusive club of hitters with both 3000 career hits AND 500 career home runs.

The path of Dennis looks like it will take it right over Pensacola as it makes landfall in the next half hour or so. Hopefully, Dennis will do less damage than the Orioles did to Boston yesterday.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Live Hurricane Dennis/Red Sox Blogging!

Hurricane Dennis/Red Sox Live Update

Reporting Station: Evinston, Alachua County, Florida
Update Time: 14:27 EST

At this location, Mister Sun was shining for at least the past hour and sustained winds were imperceptible. At approximately 2:05 p.m. EST some light cloud cover moved in diminishing the heat and brightness of the Sun, but humidity remained high and quite noticeable, as we all got sticky upon venturing outside in our various regular weekend pursuits.

At this moment the eye of Hurricane Dennis is ~135 miles SW of Orlando and is moving parallel to the Florida coast at about 14 miles per hour. Forecasts all concur that the expansive tropical storm bands on the eastern side of Dennis will periodically rake north central Florida for the next 24 hours, with associated severe thunderstorms, winds gusting into to 30-40 mph range, and tornado watches and tropical storm warnings. So here in north-central Florida, we've apparently been spared the core brunt of the storm. This time. Check back in a couple weeks and see what The Weatherman has to say about the storms regularly spitting off the west coast of Africa and heading east for the Carribean and the Gulf, like so many smoke rings from an evil wizard's pipe.

As for today's baseball game, the Orioles are currently leading the Boston Red Sox 4-1 following the 3-run homer by Palmeiro. I'd expected the champion (at last) Sox to be playing a little flashier, but they're not, so far.

Palmeiro has a consistent but relatively unheralded career. I expect that he, like other great players, may garner his laurels late in his game, when the slow and accumulating consistent stats he is racking up look much more solid and impressive at the end of it all.

Stay tuned for more hurricane and baseball.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hurricane Dennis

Hurricane Dennis approaches! The first hurricane of 2006 is passing by Cuba tonight, on his way into the Gulf. Forecasters say he'll likely pass to the west of Florida proper, and come ashore during the weekend, at about category 3 strength.

Tropical storm Cindy just yesterday blew through the Gulf, missing Florida, but came ashore in LA dragging 70 mph winds in her skirts and flooding the area with 10" of rain.

Here in north central Florida, we've had a very rainy June. Lakes, ponds, swales and swamps are still high since last season's hurricanes and have only gotten more inundated with the record rainfall. The southbound lane of Hwy 441 across Payne's Prairie is but a foot or two above water level at its northernmost end.

I'll say it now, before anything happens. I do not relish the thought of tropical storms and hurricanes this Summer. The 4 storms that affected us last year were enough to last me for a few years at least.

The Bush Agenda: 2005 G8 Summit

Checklist Of Things To Do Today
1. Birthday Brunch with Queen Margrethe II of Denmark: Check.
(Gave nice soundbite about Danish birthday cake. Heh!)

2. Run down Strathclyde police officer with bicycle: Check.
(Didn't intend to put him in hospital with ankle injury. Whoopsie.)

3. Dinner with Queen Elizabeth II of England: Check.
(Hey, where were those Corgi dawgs everyone goes on about?)

Its all in a day's work for the US President (who may still be looking for a good cowboy).