I finished Stephen King's "Beachworld" last night. The story chronicles a crash landing on a distant planet comprised wholly of a sentient, hypnotic beach. It's a fun story, kind of a large-scale variation on the pitcher plant, complete with a salvage captain with tank treads for a lower body.

While I was reading it, I got a little bit parched. King does a nice job of developing the barren imagery, and the heat and shifting sands made me a little uncomfortable.

But here, a day later, that landscape actually doesn't sound half bad.

We've had more then twenty inches of rain (I live near an airport that keeps track of such things) since the first day of June. Beryl was bad, but Debby is now just sitting over upper Florida. We've had almost six inches of rain in twenty-four hours here in Jacksonville. 

Every retention pond is bursting. They run together, and many of the ditches and canals are spilling over into the road. People, and this isn't hyperbole, are piloting boats and kayaks in some of the streets that haven't collapsed because of soil erosion.

I played golf on Saturday at Mill Cove. The third and fifth holes were so saturated that we were hitting our shots to little islands of grass. I backed up for my second shot on three and noticed, about six feet away, that I was being studied by a pair of golden eyes. The gator was submerged in duckweed, just his eyes, nostrils and the crown of his skull showing. What usually was fairway was now part of his pond, and he was stretching his boundaries. 

They're on the move, heading to higher ground. So are the snakes and all of the other creepy crawlies. Kind of adds a new dimension to the idea of a hazard on the course.

At night, the streets ripple with fat toads and frogs. The next morning, the roads resemble filthy windshields--flattened and exploded amphibians all over the place.

As I types this, my neighbor is mowing his lawn. Seriously. It's been raining all morning, and I can hear him starting the mower and cutting a strip of grass before the thing clogs and stalls. I think he's switching back and forth from the mower to a string trimmer. I actually understand why he's trying, because the grass is knee-high in spots. It's still hot (middle to upper 80s), but with the rain the flora is just blasting off. Our broccoli and tomato plants, as well as the lime tree, look like bizarre science projects. They're huge, bushy behemoths that will need a proper pruning when this system clears the area.

In our seven years in Florida, we haven't quite seen a tropical rain season like this one, and it's only just begun. When the storm clears out, there will be some serious cleaning up to do. The upshot of all of this is that the Floridan Aquifer, which has been severely stressed this year, is getting a much-needed super-shot of water.

Such is the water cycle on the peninsula...

The dearth of posting around here is due to the convergence of a couple of factors. I'm learning UCF's systems and culture, which requires a lot of travel between Jacksonville and Orlando. I'm on a pair of summer hiring committees, I'm participating in a new LMS pilot (which has taken me at least thirty hours to perfect my contributions), I have a huge number of students at the college and I'm still trying to do a little creative writing when I can and spend time with my family. It's a juggling act, but things will clear up some after August 20.

Be well where you are, and please say "hello" on behalf of those of us in Florida if you see that great burning ball of gas that used to come around here so often... 

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