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Posts Tagged ‘anhinga’

Snowing

Oh, it’s snowing on the bleached woods of the Wekiva River, wetting my anhinga’s wings. How cool is that?

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P1060881Did you ever see one of those commercials where they put a car through the changing, violent weather test to see how the finish holds up? You are looking at the human version of that car.

Lake George

Do you see Mickey Mouse in the clouds, too?

Sunday at Silver Glenn, a beautiful spring on the St. Johns River, broiled in 93 degree heat (more in direct sun where we were), but the water was cool as a glass of iced tea. That is where my son’s and a friend’s family and I spent most of the day.

The clouds were billowing and beautiful all day. Since I am surrounded by trees, and see only a pinch of sky to the southeast, the view was a real treat. “They do look like thunderheads,” I told my son, but he assured me there was a zero percent chance of rain for the day. You know what’s coming, don’t you? Traveling back down the river to our ramp, the clouds darkened more and more until BAM! We began to be pelted in the face with raindrops like buckshot. The temperature seemed to drop thirty degrees in minutes and the towels drawn around to protect our bodies had to be rung out every five minutes.

“At least there is no lightn—-“I said just as the sky began to rumble. Time to pull over, but not too close to the trees. After a time, we slowly moved our way along, with the rain still coming down in bullets. Minutes before we turned into the dock, the sun came out. At least we wouldn’t have to pull out the boat in the storm.

Oh yeah, we're screwed.

Oh yeah, we're screwed.

In His defense, I must note, we saw three rainbows as we inched out of the treacherous monsoon. Noah may have fallen for that apology, but we weren’t quite ready. And no, I didn’t get pictures of them. I had stashed my camera in a dry spot seconds before the deluge.

My granddaughter “H-2” shouted over the din as we made our way in the storm, “What does ENDURE mean?” It was on her school spelling list and it suddenly occurred to her she needed to know now. Did we have examples she would not forget! The best was: It is persevering thorough difficulties, such as getting back to harbor in this storm. Somehow I don’t think she will ever forget the meaning of “endure.”

The REAL Florida

The REAL Florida

POSTSCRIPT: First trip on the St. Johns that we have seen not one alligator. Also there were few birds, save a few anhingas and cormorants, unless you count the flock of turkey vultures making themselves at home in the park. Our excellent Otter Spotter, H-2’s cousin spied one of those for us and a couple of turtles. I believe the wildlife decided they will come out when October REALLY gets here.

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Beda-Work-570026Can it be I have been writing this blog since September 3, 2006? Doesn’t seem like it, but the evidence is there. I started not know where or when it would end and I still don’t. It would be hard to pull away from the wonderful, eclectic group of blogger buddies I’ve met through this post, Amuirin, Corina, Ben, Chris, Robin, Lea, Tabbie, Carson, and on an on. I hesitated to begin naming because I know I will delete some of my favorites, but you know who you are. If only my brain were as sharp as it had to be in the picture above from 1957 — not 2006. Don’t want anyone to  think I descended the mountain in Shangri La sometime in the last three years.  By the way, that’s a Burroughs bookkeeping machine. Thank God for tiny computers with electric keyboards.

What I am really trying to say (badly) is thank all of you who read, encourage and challenge me for sticking around. You make it all worthwhile.

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Anything worth doing is worth doing well. You’ve heard that, nodded your head probably, but that is only half the story. The rest of the story is: Anything worth doing is going to take you down a road riddled with obstacles. I remember the exact moment this truth came to me. I was scanning my watch nervously as the service station guy tried to restart my car. In an unfamiliar, heavy traffic area, my car was behaving like a horse ready to pitch me from the saddle. Why did I, with a phobia about getting lost, make this journey? Jury duty, one month of Federal Court jury duty. I could drive in my county, but this wasn’t even my county. The car was repaired and I made it in time and made it successive days while I served on a case, but it was white knuckles all the way.

 

So I sat in a greasy bay thinking to myself that I was performing a very important service and a lot of people were counting on me. I was doing something worthwhile. So why didn’t the heavens open up and make the commute like a skip down the Yellow Brick Road? Because anything worth doing will take you down a road riddled with obstacles. Maybe we could call it Anhinga’s Law. That poor bird knows fishing for food is worthwhile – or else he would starve. His long pointed beak is built for the job; his strong wings are made for the recognizance flight. Living and eating should be a piece of cake, but it’s not. No. He has a built in obstacle – those feathers are missing the usual water bird oils to keep them dry. Does he stop diving for fish? No, he faces the obstacle. He dives, eats, then stands on the nearest object and holds those ill-designed, feathered wings out to the sun until they dry. But you see, he doesn’t give up. He knows his goal is worthwhile and obstacles are to be expected, and he soldiers on.  “Anhinga’s Law” sounds about right.

 

All this is leading up to another day I had recently that was overtaken by Anhinga’s Law. I needed to go out for supplies. Though my husband was recuperating from pneumonia, he could be left a little while as long as the oxygen concentrator was working. But then the lights flashed on and off a couple of times, finally settling on off. So we grabbed a portable oxygen tank. It was partially full and there was only one more in the house. Delivery was the following day. If the power were off too long, I could probably start the generator myself, though I had never done it alone.  Hurricane season was ending that day, but turbulent weather had been reported in Central Florida just before power went out. Not to worry. Our weather radio had battery backup. I checked it to be sure –dead as a doornail. I dug out the last of the AA batteries. The weather radio lit up and immediately began broadcasting a tornado watch for our county.

 

So I searched for the one old, old phone that plugs directly into the wall without help of electricity. The power company said electricity was estimated to be back on in one and a half hours, but that was only an estimate. We have had it go off for days, but we gave them a chance before going to Plan B, whatever that was. In a little less than two hours the lights flickered on and off, finally sticking with ON.

 

The lesson of this episode spoke to me clearly. Certainly I was doing something worthwhile, so predictably, the obstacles came right and left. When you think about it, it all makes sense in a fatalistic kind of way, doesn’t it? J

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Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anhinga

Anhinga

 

 

 Click on pictures to enlarge.

 

   

The pattern is clear now. Every time I grab the camera to capture a shot, something else moves into the scene, invariably an even better visual catch. Yesterday was a close match as to what was best. I have watched for the Hooded Merganser duck to return for the second year. As I got out of the car yesterday, I spotted a hen and drake down at the pond. So I run for the camera and snap away at the shy fowls. As you can see, they do not make it easy to get a good shot. So I waited and waited, hoping they might venture closer. Suddenly a snake surfaced too close them and startled me. It took only another second to realize that it was not a snake, but a Snakebird—an anhinga! This is prize I have been waiting for. Only once before has an anhinga visited the pond and my camera shots were not good. I camped out this time. The results you see here. I still wait for that wonderful close-up of the bird drying his fully outstretched wings. (Anhingas do not have the oil glands necessary to shed water like other water birds, so they must “hang them out to dry in the sun.”)  Their territory is the Atlantic and Gulf costs from North Carolina to Texas and in the Mississippi Valley north to Arkansas and Tennessee and south to South America. You may have guessed this species is my favorite. 
 
 
 
 

 

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