Often December 21 is the Winter Solstice, but this year it is tomorrow the 22nd. But always December 21st is my mother’s birthday. She would be 92 today if she had not died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1988. I’ve missed her every day since that one but most of all on her birthday and mine.
At dawn, it’s cloudy and windy again. This is probably day 56 of such a situation. Unknown to me David takes this picture out the front window as I wait for the sunrise.
Pink clouds and a gray horizon line is about all I get.
A great egret flies in and saunters across the site in front of the kayaks. What a great neighbor.
I see Carrie through the window. She comes outside and is nearly blown away.
The pinks increase and so does the wind. It jerks the flag around and back and forth.
Finally the sun burns through the dark horizon clouds and the shortest day of the year begins.
We head out for the traditional shortest day of the year breakfast. We return to the Stuffed Pig and sit out on the patio.
Our table is right next to Willy B Bacon in the middle and Chris P. Bacon on the right. LOTS of piggy humor here.
Back home, Carrie and I decide to see how far out we have to walk before we can swim.
We keep going and going and eventually it gets up above our knees but I think we could walk to Cuba before it would be over our heads. We consider it carefully and decide to come back in and walk the beach south instead of going to Cuba to swim.
Along our way south we find a gathering of Royal Terns. This is a surprise since we have not seen any terns here before. They seem to have a herring gull as a chaperone. Not many gulls here either.
Not sure who is getting told off here but the admonition appears to be quite serious and is repeated multiple times.
Along the shore, the sea grapes are in profusion. People do make jam out of them when they are ripe but they have big seeds and little pulp. This tree/bush is covered.
We leave the park property and walk by several private homes. Obviously these folks have been away and haven’t seen the palm tree that has crashed into their stairs and onto the roof but luckily did not break any of the windows. Not much of a holiday present that’s for sure.
On the way back up the beach Carrie seems to be the last in a line of Ibis who eventually tire of her following them and fly off.
We might be envying those with snow for the holidays, well just for one day we’re envying, but they might like to just flop down in this hammock overlooking the Atlantic.
Before the Ibis Carrie was following fly off they are all approaching a great egret on the bank. He’s over her left shoulder.
He’s not bothered by the Ibis flying but as Carrie gets closer he moves on up the shore.
After lunch we walk up to the canoe rental area and then along the shore to the start of the Golden Orb Trail through the maritime hammock.
Along the way in the sun we see these really interesting seed pods of the Blackbead and flowers of the Cats-Claw. They are flowering shurbs found all along Long Key. The pods are open to reveal black seeds wrapped in red arils. The Cats-Claw puff ball type flowers smell wonderful.
Usually in the forest we would be eaten alive by bugs but one real bonus of all this wind is that we are not.
David spots this snail moving along the ground. That looks like a mighty big house for him to tote around to me.
I sure don’t blame Carrie for her reaction to the Poisonwood tree. She’s right to be worried since it can give you a very serious reaction with a rash and blisters just from just touching it. The birds love the berries and thus it gets planted all over the Keys.
Those who’ve been reading my blog for a while know that we spent the summer among an amazing array of mushrooms in Shenandoah National Park. I think this is the first one I’ve seen since then.
At the end of the one and a quarter mile trail, we take the boardwalk back toward the campground. It’s the best place to spot mangrove crabs and we do spot several
These little crabs are almost impossible to spot unless you see them moving. They blend in perfectly with the mangrove roots and trunks.
Not sure I’ve ever had this perspective looking down into the swamp through the red mangrove roots.
Our route across the boardwalk takes us past the primitive camping sites. There are about 5 sites right on the water that you could canoe or kayak into. All have the platform and the cover. Bring your own hammock. No water, no electric.
After dinner we go out to watch the sun set on this longest night of the year. As has been the case for nearly every sunset since we’ve been at Long Key and for many sunrises as well, dark clouds are massed at the horizon.
For our efforts we are gifted with this beautiful spiral shell which seems perfect for this night as we move on around the Wheel of the Year. We leave it for the next person to enjoy. I hope they will leave it as well.
As the sun does set into the horizon clouds, we attempt a rather ragged harmonic rendition of Now the Day is Over to send it off. This singing eventually brings us to gales of laughter.
As we return home we see most of the color from the sunset shows itself in the sky to the north
The dark has begun.
Time to make the cake.
Rich chocolate cake with butter cream icing has been a family celebration dessert for us forever.
Tomorrow it will be part of our celebration for making it through the longest night of the year to the returning light and longer days. The solar year will then be waxing through the winter and the spring. It really is a sort of paradox that the first day of winter is also the first day of more daylight hours.
Into the oven it goes.