Monday, December 20, 2010

A Solstice in the Sun

Hanukkah is past and Christmas a few days away, but at the new Merrifield & Weir household in North Fort Myers, Florida, we’re poised to celebrate the Winter Solstice and watch the sun wheel toward New Year’s, bringing more light into our lives day by day as it rises over the Caloosahatchee River flowing past our condo.

It is two weeks today since we arrived for our first winter in our new home. Though we’ve been Florida snowbirds for 10 years, itinerant campers in the state’s marvelous parks, now we’re nesting. What was bare just 14 days ago is now handsomely furnished, comfortable, homey. We are delighted; it was the right decision, the right place and time to settle down.

That doesn’t mean we won’t be exploring, following vagabond trails into the neotropical forests and along white-sand beaches, neither of which are far away. In fact, a few days ago, I took a break from shopping the rounds of consignment shops for “recycled” furniture to explore Caloosahatchee Regional Park, just 9.4 miles upstream from the condo.

With dozens of miles of trails, a quiet campground for tenters only and the most amiable park hosts, this Lee County park – one of several dozen – is a gem. And an inspiration. I put up my new tent, “Bukowski,” and settled under the warm sun into my poetry safari (as we call them) for “a good write” with hours upon hours to myself to hear myself think…and noodle in my journal those sorted thoughts. Except for an armadillo foraging noisily outside Bukowski later in the evening, I was undisturbed to write, write, write. There was peace on Earth. And, the next morning when I Roger welcomed me home, I had drafted six new poems and felt restored, rebalanced. My Florida muse had returned.

The following are three of a sequence of 13 scherzi (13-syllable poems) called “Homecoming Scherzi” I wrote to honor my newly-discovered, nearby retreat center.

I may have become a Sunshine State homebody, but my vagabond spirit continues to roam among the natural wonders of Florida, my Florida.

I salute you, hardwood hammock,
bow to palmettos.

Epiphytes and live oaks fringe
my bower, shade my way.

Lo and behold! Spanish moss!
I’m draped in the South.


My very best to all who visit these pages as the sun regains its strength and the days grow longer.