I woke to a morning of thick fog with water misting me as it passed through its dew point. Acorns are dropping and cypress needles are falling. It must be the midpoint between fall and winter here in SW Florida. The rains have been gone for over a month now and the land is beginning to dry up. I hear a screech owl trilling in the distance and as I walk through the woods I see remnants of the spider’s activity during the night. Today, the fog dissipates and climbs to the low eighties. Our daylight hours are noticeably shorter, bringing the vibrancy of fall colors from the Virginia creeper to maple trees. Even the cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea with its’ rust colored shoots blends in with this palette, as the fronds push up towards the filtered light. Now and then the warblers make their presence known but I sense that their predator may still be about. The alligator flag that rims the swamp is dying back and the green fullness that I knew before is shrinking before my eyes. This new fullness reveals gators and a water bird, feeding from what was once a sheet of water, now shrinking ponds brimming with aquatic life. This period is known as the dry down and will continue until the steady rains begin again in late May or early June. As a wood stork soars overhead I am reminded how these birds depend on these overstuffed ponds to begin their breeding cycle. Time will tell how they fare this season.