It’s late April in the Longleaf woods of panhandle Florida. One day has the kind of crisp blue sky mornings that make you want to fling open all the doors and windows. Another, this morning for example, has you checking the calendar to see if maybe April morphed into August. Step outside and your hair begins to fatten and curl in the steam.
Buck and I are not the only critters in the woods contemplating new shelter. Wrens hop around under the cars and in the grass, snatching up shreds of nest-building material and chittering like garage-sale treasure hunters.
A resourceful gopher tortoise has repurposed an old slab of tin-covered wood into a roof for its den. It’s just out back a little ways from the fence. We can watch the tortoise emerge to graze on sunny afternoons. Two Sundays ago, a dry, bright day, he hung out on the “front porch” of his den for hours, not so different from the rest of us contented householders.
I don’t know how a gopher tortoise processes information about the world. I wouldn’t imagine he chose this spot for a new den based on the idea that its tin roof would make a pleasant sound when it rains. Then again. I could swear I saw him smiling that Sunday afternoon.