St. Valentine’s Day is the beginning of crazy. After the loving and sentimental holiday that celebrates the affairs of the heart, panthers begin to prowl, the birds of prey fall under the pressures of parenthood, and every living creature between heaven and earth begins to search for - or flee from - something that has been asleep during the long dormant months of winter.

When the month of March arrives in the Ten Thousand Islands, Marco, Goodland, and the Isles of Capri are bursting with busy and cracking with crazy. Every delicate emotion from devotion to regret is on the rise, but the reasoning behind the upswing in the hysterical urgency of almost everything will always be found in the Secret Stuff of Springtime.

When the hotel and restaurant managers look at their business forecasts for March they fasten their seatbelts, dig in their heels, and brace for impact. After the servers and the staff in the restaurants and hotels hear the forecast news from the managers about the busiest spring break ever, they warily look at each other with fear, hope, and high anxiety!

After the paramedics, firefighters, and police, learn about all the new upcoming events and the expected uptick in tourist traffic - because of so many sudden factors that no one person can really explain - the emotions, dread, and trepidation for the upcoming weeks can be overwhelming. For everyone living, visiting, and trying to survive island living during March, we might need to take a break and learn from the animals in the wild that are warily watching us.

The ospreys that share our skies have a rational way of coping with stress. During the wonderful days of November, the fish hawks that mate for life - without the possibility of divorce - calmly collect nesting material and rebuild their nests. After Christmastime, eggs appear. When Valentine’s Day is past, little furry heads are popping up and looking for whatever food is hopefully coming back to the nest. With the arrival of March, the little heads are always up, always looking around, and always ravenous. The growth of the fledglings during March is easily more frantic than the tourist traffic on the islands, but mom and dad try to stay calm as they take turns watching over their growing youngsters. When mom or dad might be overdue with fresh fish coming home to the little ones, the fledglings might become hysterical and screech. A waiting parent might become irritable and scream, but when the watchful mate is flying home with claws full of fish, there might be a wise moment to take a break on a perch, and secretly watch the family from a distance.

There are no documented cases of Florida panthers ever attacking humans. This is most probably because panthers are better at coping with stress than humans are. A panther will not attack because of a mishandled reservation at a restaurant. Panthers do not attack each other because of cultural differences. The only reason a panther might attack would be to protect its young, but this would never happen in a hotel or condominium lobby, or at a swimming pool deck. This is simply because panthers are too dignified. Panthers would never fight over a parking place and they would never growl at anyone in a grocery store. There could never be a panther that would disrespect a nurse, a doctor, a police officer, or a valet that was trying to park cars. A panther could easily come prowling into an island neighborhood under the cover of darkness and jump onto a roof to lie in wait for someone unsuspecting, but panthers are not political.

The bats in southwest Florida come out only at night. They begin to seek out the darkening skies at twilight for food, beverage, and mating opportunities, but they always avoid the young teenage creatures on the darkened beach who are also searching for similar beverage and mating activities.

The gopher tortoises that slowly roam the streets during spring break are never in a hurry. The stress of the fast and furious is never a trouble to them, because as the days begin to grow longer, the gopher tortoise knows, through the infinite knowledge of reptilian millennia, that springtime will not last…very much longer…than the next speeding car.     

The Secret Stuff of Springtime and the craziness of spring break can be found almost everywhere. Julius Caesar was given a warning about the middle of March, but he ignored the advice and was assassinated. Botanists offer a warning every spring to be cautious of blooming plants and pollen but few are aware that invisible stimuli in the air can affect the reasoning processes of everyone - even psychiatrists.

When the warming springtime winds sweep over the frozen mountains in Switzerland and descend over the Alps into Germany, the temperature can rise 25 degrees in only a matter of hours. The strong alpine wind coming from the mountains is known as “The Foehn,” and is superstitiously blamed for everything from chronic headaches and stress to car crashes and divorce. 

The full moon this March occurs on day seven of the craziest month of the year, and in their wisdom of understanding Mother Nature and humanity, Native Americans have given the full moon in March the worrisome designation of the “Worm Moon.”

Throughout history and urban legend, full moons have always been related with madness, murder, and mayhem, but the rising of the Worm Moon in March will always reign supreme with lunacy, lunatics, and the likelihood of stepping outside the boundaries of sanity.  This is especially true during Spring break when the Secret Stuff of Springtime is always lurking on the dark side of every Worm Moon.

Tom Williams is a Marco Islander and the author of two books: “Lost and Found” and “Surrounded by Thunder - The Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocket Men.” Both books are available on Kindle and Nook.





Tom Williams is a Marco Islander. He is the author of two books: Lost and Found and Surrounded by Thunder - the Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocket Men. Both books are available on Kindle and Nook.

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