Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mangrove Dawn

The workingman's curse is having a dog who knows what time you normally wake up and on those rare days when the schedule allows for a lie-in no one tells the dog so promptly at 3:45 he's very ready to go explore.
With official sunrise close to seven am there's no point in getting to the trail head before 6:15 or so but no amount of rational explanation seems to reassure Rusty. On a work day I am restricted to walking him in moderately well lit places where I don't risk tripping and breaking my neck. On my day off when I could indulge the benefit that is sleep, as the poet put it,  Rusty is there always  ready to make sure I tumble out of bed at the regular time of 3:45 am, so no extra sleep is allowed. If I listen to him I soon find myself heading into the frigid Keys morning air. If I don't listen to him he pads around the house whining and clicking his nails on the tile until I get up and buy some time with a chew.

“Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.”

Never mind all that contemplation of sleep - time to go for a walk!

The benefit of that virtue of being an early riser which is enforced on me by my dog is that I get to watch some excellent sunrises among the mangroves. In the good old days when I worked night shift we came out far more often and he seemed to lose interest because perhaps, familiarity did breed contempt. These days he runs with nose down forcing me to keep up an seemly pace. But I do get a chance with the camera. from time to time.
Being out here is an excellent way to cast off the stresses of the night shift and these days I look forward to my days off to find myself deliberately in the wilderness alone with my thoughts and the silence.
Brown leaves among buttonwoods and mangroves are a sign of regeneration but they aren't much to do with seasons as mangroves store salt in their leaves and cast off the sodium filled greenery as a way to enable them to turn ocean water into fresh water for the plant's use. 
And around here there has been a  great deal of salt water as the seasonal extra high tides have kept the trails flooded much of the time. Only salt resistant plants have survived. Salt water immersion is one way to keep your lawn in check.
I cannot say it is really cold as I am out here at down in short sleeved shirt and shorts without a hint of chill, but the air is fresh and crisp and fresh water droplets accumulate overnight.
Eventually even the sun puts in an appearance but not with summer ferocity, when energy sapping humidity soaks a shirt even on a  short walk. It lights up the skies mildly, apologetically.
And far above the other winter migrants, pelicans catch the first rays of the day. This is after all the Florida Keys so sunshine is the natural order of things.  Just as frost most decidedly is not.