Saturday, February 28, 2015

It Is the Season

In Florida it is spring.  We had to wear sweaters and jackets as that polar express did touch all the way across the Florida peninsula on some days, but it was still spring here and the birds are nesting.  These blue herons are such awkward and exotic looking birds.  They stand staunchly like hunched-back old people with a serious grumpiness problem, but when they fly effortlessly it becomes magical.  I wish I could stay and watch the little ones grow and fledge.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This was NOT one of the biggest ones.

Driving along a road on Magnolia Plantation in South Carolina we got up close and personal.  We were in a tram, although an hour later we walked this same trail.   As many people should know, he wanted nothing to do with us and soon slid into the water.

Below is a buddy of his, that we came across later while walking, who brought his own lunch!  Actually their metabolism is still very slow as they go through these winter months and they are not hungry until several days in warmer sunlight when they would eat one of these turtles.  I am guessing the turtles know that.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


This tree, yes it IS a tree, was taken on the grounds of the Ringling Brothers Circus Museums and gardens now owned by Florida State University.  You can easily spend 3 days here, but we squeezed in a day and a half.  The tree below is called Bombax Ceiba, a red cotton tree from Nepal.  Oddly there was not a strong fragrance from the flowers, but I did not get my nose too close since each blossom was filled with bees.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Am Ignoring You

Just a little hint of how the birds down here ignore you or pretend you are not there.

Above this heron sits on our canoe after we pulled it up onto the floating dock and headed inside after a long, rather cool and windy day in Florida cruising the islands behind Key Largo. He managed to leave a calling card on the boat, of course.

Above this heron, same species as the one above, is tucked into the mangrove leaves as we cruised in back to our space in the back of the condo. Magnificent, isn't he?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter Blooms

I read a few posts before my travel south and became jealous as those on the West Coast posted flowers!  Flowers in February?  That was just cruel!  So I went outside to see if I could find anything of a hopeful nature in my yard and low and behold the Lenten Rose (Hellebores) were budding!  I think they originally came from Greece, or Turkey or Russia...but don't hold me to that.  They should be called "patience flower" because if you plant by seed or seedling it will take years before it reaches a stage where it blossoms.  It is much better to buy this plant as a mature specimen from the nursery.  There are a number of folktales surrounding this plant such as it bloomed in the winter around Christmas from the tears of a young girl who had no gifts for the baby Jesus.  There are also some not so nice tales where it was used as a poison.  It blooms during the lenten season so that is the reason for one of its many common names.  There are 15 species and quite a variety of flower colors and shapes.  Maybe I will post a blossom blooming when I return.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Melting Crows Feet

Visitors to the deck in the earliest hours of the morning after a snowfall.

In the photo above these are crow's feet.  He was the first to seek places and find if I had spilled any birdseed.

A while later it was a 'burning man' gathering.   I am calling this dance "Crossroads of Life"

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Just Last Spring

Photo taken last April 2014.
Almost everyone waits eagerly for spring unless you are too young for that sudden pastel warmth of a spring morning with birdsong to have made an impression on your memory.  Eventually spring imprints on us all,  and we cannot drink enough of it into our soul to satiate our emptiness drained by tolerating a long, gray and white winter.

Spring taps us on the shoulder and immediately gets our attention, gets our full-eyed study.  We stop in our tracks dropping that project, that book, that conversation and inhale the fragrant air of earth and blossom. We remember all those firsts; first walk, first bike ride, first poem, first kiss, first love, and even first bee sting!  It has a power that nothing else seems to possess reminding us to live in the moment.   We can pretend that we are young and beautiful and still have lots of memories to make for just a short while.  We can put purpose on the shelf and pick up pleasure.

We see things as if almost for the first time.  Is it that crystal crisp light that bathes every nook and corner?  We are not just remembering but actually being in that moment.  Our skin is sensitive to the breeze, our eyes are sensitive to the lime colors of baby leaves, our nose recognizes the rich brown smell of earth after the rain, and even our ears hear a different bird song, one that is more joyful and full of hope and amorous adventures.  It as if we have yet to begin to experience our own life.  We are excited.

We elders push to the back of our minds the question of how many springs are yet ahead for us as we plant something, paint something, photograph something, kiss something and start living all over again.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


We are cautioned, by those full of greater expertise on the matter, to set aside regular time for eating, to not stand and eat over the kitchen sink, to make sure that we think about what we are eating, to really taste it, to chew our food slowly, and to be present and thankful in the moment of the meal.  I was thinking of this when I took the following photos the other day.  We have been having visits by a red-shouldered hawk and a Cooper's hawk who are attracted to the many birds coming to our feeders and to our heated spa.

When eating or drinking they must always keep one eye on the sky.

Or one eye just over the rim of the bird bath before they jump up and glug a bit.

It is most times a matter of eating and running flying into the tangle of the woods.

Sometimes just hiding below the patio table and sitting very, very, still is a good strategy because you never know where that hawk eye is looking.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Just Visiting

Not the best photo when taken through a kitchen window, but I learned long ago that raptors have genious eyes and ears and any attempt at getting closer would have resulted in their rapid departure from our "fish hawks" nest.  They stayed long enough for a fresh fish lunch and then departed up the river where I do know a bald eagle's nest exists...but perhaps this is a young new couple looking for real estate?  Unfortunately, this osprey nest is too close to boats and human activity and too low for eagles to feel safe.