May 02, 2006


Springtime in the Tropics

A lot of humans think there are no seasons in Florida but the dogs here know there are plenty. There's tourist season, for example, when Mike finds it hard to locate parking at the beach and red-skinned Canadians mutter under their breath at Labradors galumphing about in their native habitat. Or there's football season, which many a dog finds loud and alarming, with humans spewing strong emotions for unfathamable reasons at unpredictable times.

There's also hurricane season, with all the attendant human anxiety and board cutting and storm tracking. And there's mango season, when Molly refuses to go in the backyard (she's allergic), Mike curses the local fruit rats, and neighbors we didn't know we suddenly show up on the stoop with grocery bags in hand. (I get some serious barking done this time of year).

But maybe the best time of year is springtime around the lake. The humidity doesn't yet make a thick-coated dog feel as if he's wallowing through a curtain of heat, lightning doesn't daily threaten an instant electric death, the lake water is still cool enough to enliven Labradors and, best of all, there's still the scent of green hope sending its undaunted tendrils into the harsh, stifling future of the coming tropical months.

The signs are plain all around the glorified retention pond that is my lake. In the still, clear water, you can see the circular bass nests throughout the shallows. These little craters are sewn with the seed of hot-blooded fish. The males chase each other out of one another's territories, guarding the nests as jealously as a dog does his porch. There are eggs there, I know, thousands of gooey little globes biding their time.

Life begins this way for all creatures, of course. On one side of the lake, the dumbest of domesticated white ducks - the kind I chase with a kind of disdain - has built a nest and laid her eggs nearly out in the open, next to a willow tree and green bench. And the cannier, wilder gullinule has built a nest down at the level of the water, one much harder to detect.

It's obvious, even to a Labrador, that the future has many enemies. There are sharp-beaked birds in the trees that attack the duck eggs, and there are little skate-boarding boys who've molested the gallinule eggs. I myself have stirred up the waters around some of the bass nests, to Molly's chagrin.

It's astonishing that life carries on at all. You, dear reader, are part of an unbroken chain of births dating back billions of years, if the human scientists are to be believed. Not once have your countless ancestors stumbled. Your forebears, and mine, were always the eggs that survived, the young that went uneaten, the babies that didn't perish in a precarious world. In other words, you and I are the longest of longest shots, the fruit of odds so long that they make your average lottery look like a sure bet. We are the inheritors of this impossible springtime. Today, I just want to prance through the green with a bough in my jaws and breath it all in.

"not once have your countless ancestors stumbled"

i like it. this makes me re-evaluate a bit. i was in a low mood - a silly, down-on-myself mood, but this changes eveyrthing.

i come from a long line of survivors -eggs that make it to hatch time and from which crawl out creatures that make it the water, and back, again and again.

thanks! nothing better than reviewing the world from a dog's eye view.
Wow...I was in a flip mood...silly, fatuous, and playful...but this post has truly made me stop and think. Made me feel proud I'm even here.
Proud to be a survivor.

At 1:31 AM I didn't know anything anyone could write had that capacity.

Thank you Hank...good boy. Here's a cookie and a scratch behind your ear.
Wow that is very true. I guess you can say we're the survivors.

Love the blog. I have a friend in Florida her name is Isabella she is a standard poodle.

You do have lots of seasons in Florida.
/bark bark bark

hank you are a soulful wonderful dog. astute and pure of heart, white-faced in wisdom. i was kinda sour before i read this (ditto bird) cause i have some work pressure right now but this reminds me to be appreciative! thanks hank. you are a good dog!

(nice photo of the nest too!)

hey hank, thanks for visiting our blog. we like to know about all of the dog blogs. we dogs have to stick together. our benevolant human used to live in southern california, and she told us about lots of seasons down there. and humans don't notice nearly as much as us dogs do. we're gonna add you to our blog roll so that we can come back and visit again
Very philosophical there Hank, and nicely wrought. We up here in the North do tend to think of the South as not having seasons so it's nice to be educated on that score. I didn't know there was a mango allergy but that explains why I avoid them - they make my mouth feel funny. Interesting.
I wonder if you have seen this commercial, based on your other thoughts?
Thanks for the advice Hank. It was extremely wise of you.
Gee Hank, you really know how to make me feel lucky. Thanks. You're a smart dog.
Hank, you are so fabulously philosophical. I hope you found a huge stick to carry.
My parents stay in St. Pete and my favorite part is not just barking att eh fruit rats, but trying to corner all the little lizards.
Hank, your insight to life is always a pleasure to read. I hope your owner forgets to close the treat jar and you will have your fill tonight. ;-)
In San Francisco, we have football season and baseball season... and it is always the same tempurature all year round. Anything over 65 degrees is considered "hot." You're right, Hank... as the so-called seasons pass, life continues as it should. We all need to move forward... humans, ducks, and especially dogs. --endo
For sure! I would love to visit florida =)
Dear Hank, our human took us on our walk today to the dam, and everything was covered with a thick coating of ice. We love running on icy grass and swimming in the dam. There is something refreshingly good about the crispness of Autumn and smells are clearer too. Despitte the fact it is Autumn, we hear that there are terrible cyclones up north here : towns were flattened and the entire banana crop ruined. The cyclone was as big as Tracy in Darwin. Glad we're not there.
Hank~ thanks for all wonderful info..well said .
Hank, you and I sound like kindred spirits. I am sending a "virtual Labrador body slam/hello wanna play" your way.
Hey, my humans' ancestors MUST'VE stumbled a lot. That would explain their general lack of ability to understand dog language after over 2 years of me trying to train em.

Matter of fact, I bet a lot of em stumbled a lot and hit their heads on all sorts of stuff - the roof of the cave, the rock in the path that accidentally showed them where the food was. I bet the one that discovered fire was actually struck by lightning and caught on fire and the rest roasted meat around him or something.

But I'm glad they made it through all that, cause I think I like em a lot actually . . .

As the bee gathers honey
from the flower without
injuring its colour or fragrance,
May we all live life
contributing and not destroying.

Thanks for this lovely post.
nice picture .. did you know that the shape of the eggs (of various birds) depends on the type of nest they can build? yuppppp
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