We left Cedar Key, Florida in late April when it was warming up and the sand gnats were coming out in force. Also called no-see-ums, the sand gnats would swarm around early and late in the day, especially when it was calm. They have small scalpels for biting mouthparts, inject a bit of anti-coagulant and drink your blood. I've become a bit used to them but I still get welts that itch for a day or two. Once in Belize my legs looked like they took a hit from a shotgun with sand gnat bites all over.
Last week our orchard was in bloom despite the unseasonably cool and wet weather. I enjoy walking in the orchard smelling the fragrant flowers. What was missing was pollinators. In past years I recall that the orchard was buzzing with honeybees, bumblebees and many species of native bees. The orchard was silent. I didn't see a single bee. I wrote it off to the cold temperature but was worried that I didn't see even some of the hardy native bees.
We left our place in Florida and returned home a couple weeks ago so that we could prune our orchard and burn our prairie. We missed the last snow and big rainfall events but after leaving 80°F weather in Florida we were pretty chilled by the frosty nights and damp cold days. Carol sprayed our apple trees with dormant oil spray. After climbing the orchard ladder dozens of times and giving my right hand a workout cutting water sprouts with pruning shears, our orchard is blooming now, looking good for a new crop of apples.
Carol and I spent the winter at our place in Cedar Key, Florida avoiding the brutal cold and snow here in western Wisconsin. We enjoyed watching the spring arrive there during February and March. Iris were blooming in the Suwannee River floodplain, soft green leaves of bald cypress emerged, sweet gum and maple leaves filled out, ferns unfolded, wildflowers bloomed, frogs were calling and turtles were nesting.
I've long been fascinated by sturgeon, ancient fish with armor plating that live in the bottom of large rivers and lakes. Lake sturgeon live in the St. Croix, Chippewa, Flambeau, Bad, Wisconsin, Wolf and Menomonie rivers and in Lakes Superior and Michigan in Wisconsin. A large population of Lake sturgeon lives in the Wolf River system including Lakes Winnebago, Poygan, Winneconnee and Butte des Morts.
Our winter home in Cedar Key, Florida is surrounded by salt marsh, islands and the Gulf of Mexico. An isolated "end of the road" small community, Cedar Key is not for everyone but we like it a lot. We do leave on occasion to go shopping or visit other places in north Florida. As much as we like to go out boating, bird watching and fishing around Cedar Key, a recent canoe trip in northern Florida was a memorable one.
We don't feel the tug of the moon as the world revolves but the oceans do. Each day, the moon's gravity makes tidal force that causes the Earth and its oceans to bulge toward the moon and on the side farthest from the moon. As the earth rotates, it passes through two of the bulges each day. The bulges of water are high tides. When we aren't in one of the bulges, we see low tide.
Many large snowbirds make their way to Cedar Key, Florida during the winter. They can be seen in shorts with white legs dining on seafood in the restaurants on Dock Street or staring at the sunset along the water's edge. There are many more avian than human snowbirds here now.
I really enjoy hunting, fishing and being in wild places. The winter has been kind to us at our place in Cedar Key on the northern Gulf Coast of Florida. We've been able to take long hikes in the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, explore the Nature Coast and fish from our boat.
After spending some time in Cedar Key, Florida I began to realize that this place is here in large part because of oysters. Dr. Peter Frederick, Research Professor of the University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation says that oysters are very cool. Not only are they considered aphrodisiacs, they construct navigation hazards.