BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS
If you have been reading my columns long enough, then you will by now know I live in Central Florida. I live here because I was born and raised here, but I also live here because it is sunny and warm. My idea of winter is a low of about 40 degrees (F) and a high of 72 (F). So when a cold front swept through last week and plunged our temperatures down to 16 (F), that was just too cold!
It was worse than that, however. It was more than just dipping down for one night, as is usual, and warming back up. It was a sustained cold. Even during the daytime, the temperatures never went above the mid-30s.
The affect of this weather has been catastrophic to our farming industries. The citrus tree crops froze. The strawberries froze (or became too water logged from day after day of heavy sprinklers). The tropical fish farmers lost most of their fish. The fishing seasons for snook, tarpon, and bonefish have had to be canceled because of the enormous fish kills.
The strawberry farmers used up so much of the water trying to save their plants that a series of sinkholes formed, swallowing up houses, roads, and even threatening major highways. So much water was used, in fact, that the underground aquifer, upon which Floridians depend, was drained to unheard of levels and entire neighborhoods found their wells dry.
On the home front, my flower garden is in shambles. Despite using every linen I could get my hands on, the plants that could not be moved into the shed are now brown and shriveled. Ah, what a far cry it is from last spring with its abundance of colorful flowers and busy insects!
Yet underneath the soil, I know life remains. Deep in the recesses of the earth where the roots stretch and tangle, the seeds of next spring exist. Germinating beneath a flood of warm sunshine, those seeds will stir and sprout, and soon I'll see tiny signs of life. New leaves will push themselves up out of the bare empty stems.
I went out early one morning on what proved to be our coldest day, and snapped a series of photos of the frost. I made myself stay out there until my toes were numb and my fingers no longer would bend. I wanted a reminder so that when spring finally comes, when I am once again surrounded with the effluence of life that is my garden, I can look back and shiver and then turn my head, look forward, and smile.
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.