Now that the weather is cooler in the mornings, I try to get outside more often. Today I took Rowan out to the lake to feed the ducks. We usually bring some oats or peas for them to eat, but today we brought millet. I have a favorite duck that I like to visit, and we were happy to see her with her family this morning. She is an adolescent Pekin duck with feathers the color of cafe au lait. She loves to eat from my palm and sometimes waddles over my legs and lap, eager for more food. We also saw swans, gallinules, ibises, an anhinga drying its wings, and a beautiful limpkin with mottled brown and white feathers.
As we were walking along the shoreline we came to a huge metal structure sitting in the grass. I immediately recognized it as the base to the Christmas tree the city displays on the lake beginning every November. I am looking forward to enjoying its warm glow, especially now that daylight saving time has arrived and it gets dark earlier.
Life by the lake definitely has its rhythms and seasons. Just recently, the swans had their annual checkup which can feel like a big event in our city. In the winter, white pelicans arrive and are often seen sitting perched on the base of the Christmas tree floating in the water. If you’re walking along the sidewalk across the shore, you may find all sorts of exciting things lining the pavement: fallen seedpods that rattle when you shake them, or little acorns the squirrels have been gathering, and yes, dried leaves that crunch underfoot even here in Florida.
With Spring comes territorial geese, freshly laid duck eggs hidden in bushes and sometimes in sewers. Spring also brings our annual art festival that seems like the circus came to town with all the tents that appear around the lake overnight.
In summer you can spot turtles easily. Puddles gather in the spaces between winding tree roots during the rainy season. The grass becomes damp and squishy and feels alive. The children love to get their boots stuck in the mud and giggle and call, “Mommy, Mommy!” until I lift them up, smiling. Dragon and damselflies are abundant, though they are really a common sight in any season.
We have lived here for just shy of a year and a half, and in that short time the lake has already left a peaceful impression upon my spirit. It is a place to play, reflect, and be. I have watched my children grow. Rowan took some of his first tentative steps holding our hands while walking down the sidewalk toward the lake. Piper has learned to ride her bike without training wheels along the same encircling path. I will always be grateful to know this place is here for us, whenever we need some fresh air and time together outdoors.