As hurricanes go, Ernesto is behaving like a wimp. Even yesterday, when it was a day and a half south of us and not yet approaching Miami, we were told it would – at most - “have winds averaging 40 to 50 mph”.
Still, better safe than sorry ruled the day. Late yesterday afternoon I spent several hours moving 60 containers from the back patio into the garage and house. NOAA had promised heavy rains for most of last night, which would flood many of the tropical plants in their pots. Then, too, a number of slips were a bit too tender and newly-rooted to withstand that type of severe weather. And, finally, the orchids might be blown away if the winds were too strong. Indoors with all of you was decided.
The ferns, ivies, and trailing plants were left in place. They have woven themselves into such a tangled mat of greenery it would have been difficult to separate them in any case. The begonias are past their prime; they have bloomed and bloomed, turning into leggy bullies that crowd everything else out of the baskets. Except for a few special Rex varieties, the begonia population was left to take its chances with the foliage plants.
That decision made, the great migration began. The dining table was extended with all its leaves, covered with blankets, then several plastic shower curtains. This and another table from the patio now hold most of the semi-tropicals. They have grown so over the summer, flourishing outdoors, and need wide swatches of free space between individual containers to accommodate the spreading leaves.
The garage became the refugee center for the orchids and other hanging plants. Orchids can withstand a fairly wide temperature range, but do not like sudden changes; the warm garage is better for them than the air-conditioned interior of the house.
The garage is now festooned with hanging greenery, baskets dangle from the ends of the garage door tracks, metal shelving, and a drying rod over the washer/dryer section. Even the trapdoor to the attic has been opened and four large bromeliads and a staghorn fern are suspended from the edges of the opening.
What I didn’t realize when I started this was that I would be moving more than plants. Late last night I heard krechnuk-krechak. What the H is that? Again, krechnuk-krechak vibrated from the direction of the dining room. It didn’t seem to bother the dog (but then, he’s deaf in his old age), and I finally decided it was one of the patio frogs.
A colony of tree frogs is in residence on the patio. Light spilling out from the French doors provides a perfect hunting ground for them. At least one can be seen on any given night with sucker toes splayed against the glass, skin glistening like oiled silk, big eyes watching for an unwary moth. During the day they disappear, burrowing under a bit of moss, finding a cool cavity among the roots of an orchid. Whenever the orchids are misted the frogs stay in place, gulping as the fine spray touches them.
Now here was one indoors, complaining loudly. Sorry, little guy, stay where you are for a bit.
This morning dawned clear and beautiful with “100 percent chance of rain” forecast for today. Ernesto had weakened considerably and was now expected to tiptoe into Daytona Beach, turn on a dime somewhere over my back forty, and head out high above the Atlantic. But thunderstorms with strong wind gusts were still predicted. It would be best to keep everything indoors until tomorrow. I went into the garage to give everybody a refreshing morning misting.
There was animal life lurking everywhere. A beige frog leapt out of “Pink Star”, a ground-hugging bromeliad, and landed on the clothes dryer control. Another leap and he disappeared into nearby boxes of detergent. A young chameleon half the length of my thumb ran up the chain supporting the basket of a strawberry begonia and glared at me, throat working convulsively. A dark toad, no bigger than the nail on my pinky finger, hopped determinedly along the length of the workbench.
I hope they all have enough sense to stay put in their respective plant containers. Tomorrow morning the patio will be back to normal and it would be a shame if we were missing the bug and mosquito eaters.