On a very hot day, we hiked beside the Saw Palmettos and found even more interesting mushrooms and fungus. One tree bore a group of soft brown disks that looked like they were constructed of velvet. Another tree seemed to be sprouting marshmallows along its trunk. I found many of my favourite salmon-coloured lichen, one with an interesting wasp nest next to it. There are many air plants in the woods, an amazing wispy plant that grows where it falls. We always carry a can of pepper spray as we were warned us about the wild hogs in the area. There is a lot of evidence of their activity, they rummage through the underbrush and dig up roots to eat. You can see a hoof print in one of the photos. Apparently, they will attack and kill a dog so we walk with feelers up. Dixie’s hackles raised on our hike and she charged off but luckily it was a deer she had spotted. As we were beginning to melt from the heat, a gentle rain shower cooled us down and left a lovely gloss on all the foliage. The few magnolias, although not in bloom at this time of year, provide beautiful form and silhouettes among the more common trees. Without snow in Florida, the locals must throw “mossballs” instead of snowballs as we do in the north. The rain dripping from the trees at the end of the trail created lively reflections. One with a red tree looked just like a Monet painting.
Out and about on the bike trails and through small towns, the sights are always a pleasure. I had to stop the bike a few times for shots of the beautiful berries of the Beautyberry as well as the crazy “Invasion of the Body Snatcher” orange pods and sticky red seeds of the Bitter Melon Vine. Poinsettias also grow wild along the trails and many gardens have six by six foot bushes with a few red blossoms at the tip of each branch. On one ride, we stopped to watch some fires where land was bring cleared for development. The shores of the Lake at Inverness along the bike path, grow a variety of wild flowers and vines. We have visited a vintage-style fruit stand a few times. It is typical of one that could be found in all large towns in Florida in the 1950’s - 1970’s and sells fresh citrus, delicious fresh-squeezed oj and jams, jellies and souvenirs iconic to the Florida Orange Industry.
The Cypress-filled pond at the back of our RV Park, attracts a variety of waterfowl. Without their movement alerting the viewer, camouflage keeps them well hidden. One breed of Merganser ducks look like they are sporting bouffant hairdos from the 1960’s. Bright white Egrets flock along the grassy shore or perch awkwardly along the tree branches. Heron; blue, grey and white species, stand still for hours waiting to catch their next meal.
We are using a poinsettia decked out with mini lights and a couple of baubles as our Christmas tree this year. It is variegated cream, green, red and burgundy, something like a Coleus plant. We have viewed a few lights around the park and in some of the local small towns. I always like to see the vintage lamp post decorations like the aging wreaths, Santas, candles and soldiers. The roads of Inverness were lined with anxious folks waiting for their approaching Santa Claus Parade on Saturday. We passed on it and went for a bike ride instead. We were intrigued by the painting of Santa beside the Manger at a residence in Floral City.
As we were sipping our morning coffee yesterday, December 12, we heard a low rumble in the distance. With a clear blue sky overhead, we knew it was not thunder. As we pondered it, the noise became louder until a thundering parade of motorcycles roared by the campground for twenty five minutes straight. We watched as hundreds of Classic, Touring, Custom, Sport, Cruiser, Trike and Vintage bikes, all colours and sizes, some with side cars, many sporting flags and a wide range of riders passed by under the eyes of cops on bikes flashing their lights and sirens. A transport trailer was in the middle of the pack and its sign read “Wreaths Across America”. Chris Googled it to discover that every year, volunteers place hundreds of wreaths on the graves of Veterans in the National Cemeteries across the country. Dade County National Cemetery is a ten minute drive up the road from us. We will take a drive up to view the wreaths sometime this week.