It’s a good idea to stay inside during a thunderstorm.  That’s just common sense.  Don’t take a shower, don’t fiddle around with electrical appliances, don’t decide this is the time to build a fort in your back yard.  Just stay put, and if the kids are bored then they will either be bored or learn to rustle up some enthusiasm for checkers.

Yesterday, Mr. B. was bored as I cut short our storm-spotting to head home.  The weather had gotten murkier and in the distance I could see something rolling in.  It was hard to tell exactly where it was rolling, though. I know Mr. B. pretty well, he’s an outdoors guy, so I didn’t suggest that we go back to my apartment and play mahjong.  Beating men at mahjong is a feminine art and privilege best reserved for those times when a woman has failed at properly felling a tree or changing a tire.

So it was that I agreed to Mr. B.’s suggestion to stop at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.  We have a season pass and it’s a great place for photography.  If a storm were truly on the way, it hadn’t materialized yet.  The skies looked ominous (another fun word you get to use in Florida) but there wasn’t any lightning or audible thunder.

We flashed our pass at the clerk, who told us that we’d just about missed the annual rose show.  She said nothing about the weather. This struck me as a bit of an oversight:  Had I been manning the desk, I’d have said, “It’s probably nothing, but are you aware we are in the middle of a tornado watch from a storm system that just yesterday produced a massive EF3 in Mississippi?”

I don’t know about you, but this is the type of information I’d like to have.  I already knew it and had made a choice to visit the gardens anyway, but it did make me think about buying a small weather radio to bring with me when I visit other parts of Florida.

We had a short look at the prize roses that was long enough to let me know that I couldn’t tell a prize rose from a dud rose, and then we headed out towards the swamp platform and began to take some pictures.  It was so gloomy that I got an immediate primer on photography by realizing that I needed to use flash.  What an advance in skill! Not only, I even tinkered with manual settings to produce some stunning pictures of palm trees whose overexposure created a surreal landscape of acid greens.

A short while after arriving, there was a giant bird chorus behind some of the palms.  The chorus was agitated and off-key and was soon joined by an amphibian chorus from the frogs in Lake Kanapaha. I looked at Mr. B. and said, This is a storm warning.  Nature knew it was high time to get out of the soup.  As it was, we were the only people wandering around the garden, and, as much as we wanted to see the herbs and vines, it was time to scram.  When I got home, I realized that the birds and frogs had acted as a weather radio, announcing the storm at the same time the NWS had. 

The storm rolls by in thick masses of gray.

Botany is not my strong suit. I have no idea what this is.

Japanese maple, and I only know that because I was able to match identifying placard to tree.  This is not always the case.

Indoors, at the rose show.  After making small talk with a rose fancier about scent differentiation in roses, I got the impression that I was a rose rube.

Here is where I started using flash.

Many people are disappointed to learn that Kanapaha doesn’t have more flowers.  It’s a botanical garden, not a flowering one.  For flowers, head to Bok Gardens in Polk County.  Kanapaha’s strength is its verdancy.

This over-exposure makes it look as if the day were pleasant.

Sunlight reproduced by over-exposure.  It actuality, it was so dark that the palms were photographing as black.