Fast Track to Spring

Ah, the joys of modern travel. One can depart the cold, gray, Midwestern winter and, within two hours, arrive in the mild, fragrant clime of South Florida. Thus was our experience today as we traded the snowy hills and fields of Missouri for the lush, subtropical landscape of Longboat Key, a barrier island off Sarasota.

Having climbed above the barren woods of St. Louis, we landed amidst the greenery of Greater Tampa, surrounded by pines, palms, live oaks and fig trees. While noisy flocks of Canada geese had plied the chilly morning fog of the Missouri River Valley, lines of brown pelicans now drifted through the balmy haze of Florida's coastal bays. Red tails that perched in the leafless trees along I-70 were replaced by ospreys here, resting on channel markers or rising from the open waters, juggling fish in their talons.

Our rendevous with spring will last but a week, since work and other duties beckon from the Heartland. We'll do our best to forget those obligations for now and turn our attention to the beaches, bays and mangrove islands of this fabulous coastal ecosystem. Details to follow.