The third sound of Rainy Season in Southwest Florida — the trilogy of sounds as it were, is the Lawn Mower. Just a few weeks ago, you might hear one a day grooming some neighbor’s parched yard down to an aesthetic nub. Now, you’ll hear several machines a day buzzing around the neighborhood.
When I first moved to this neighborhood about 10 years ago, a friend gave me a used and temperamental lawn mower as a housewarming gift. About a week after I moved in, my yard looked like a pasture: all the grass had grown to about a foot high, and it was starting to tassel. I had never mowed a yard before and I also hadn’t had any experience in starting a lawn mower. But I had to get my yard mowed because the code enforcement had given me a warning. I’d been trying to start this darned machine for about an hour and I was exhausted. While I was looking at the machine and gathering my wits to pull the rope again, I heard a lawn mower. I walked toward the sound.
The lawn mower was moving to another property, the sound had changed from back and forth rows, to a straight run. I followed it some more. I crossed several neighbors back yards and finally found the mower. I waved. They stopped. (There were two people working. One riding a mower, the other wacking-weeds.) I explained my plight and asked if they could mow my yard. They agreed to do so, but said it would be the next day. We knew they could find my house because it was the only one in the block with grass a foot high.
I walked home and put the used and temperamental mower back in the garage. I went to work the next day and when I returned, my yard had been mowed and looked great. I was saved from code enforcement! I felt like the Shoemaker and the Elves!
The second sound of Rainy Season in Southwest Florida, is a result of the rain, and it is the peeping trill of thousands of frogs. Once the rain comes (and the temperature warms up) the frogs start to sing. Not every area sounds the same. I am sure that different areas have different types of frogs which causes a variation in the sounds of the chorus. And, maybe things like the size of the body of water, and the time of day, are factors in the different sounds.
You can tell that Rainy Season has started in Southwest Florida, because you can hear it. You’ll be sitting in a building working on a report, or watching a movie in a theater, or sound asleep in bed and all of a sudden you’ll hear the rush and beat of raindrops. Rain hits the roof or the windows or the pavement and it is sometimes a soft tap-tap-tap- dappling sound. Then, sometimes it is a torrential drumming, like someone rolling their r: r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!
Then you can hear the rain hitting the puddles that form, or the rain joining in the canals that are filling. Or as the rain swirls down storm drains or as it falls over rooflines and hits the pavement in great gushing streams.
This is the first signal that Rainy Season is here. You can hear it.
Mulch is the marker between the end of Fire Season, and the beginning of Rainy Season. Mulch is the last of the ‘red’ things that you will see in Southwest Florida. Although it is fake-fake-fake, it looks pretty good on green suburbia yards. And this is the time of year when people get out in the cool time of day and do some gardening. (Almost everybody does this; we haven’t done any gardening lately.) Once you get the “flower beds” weeded, and put down a thick layer of Mulch, you can kiss the weeds good-by for a couple of months.