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Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Our Thanksgiving dinner spread the length of a couple of tables near a stand of moss covered oaks and cypress. The thought of not sitting at a table with china and silverware at first seemed odd, but then I thought back to the first Thanksgiving. Our setting was much more in tune with the Pilgrims and Indians. This arrangement had an unexpected bonus, too, the chance to meet new people.

The camper in the next site saw the bald eagle as I was moving closer to get a photo. When it flew back into the trees he thought he saw where it landed, so we moved farther into the grove as he told me he had never seen a bald eagle in Florida. He was in his thirties, olive skinned, and his dark eyes lit up at such a sighting. Unfortunately we didn’t see the eagle again. The only birds above us were a flock of buzzards. They didn’t mind having their picture taken.

Do you have any idea how much you can learn about a person in a few minutes while you walk back to camp?

“See that small tent?” he said, pointing to a dark green, small pup tent by the larger one. I’m working on a design for a bear proof tent. That one is much stronger than our large, commercial one, but not strong enough.

“My next one will be made from high tensile strength airplane cloth.” This is where he got really excited. “With that cloth you can make a hole only if you really hammer something into it, and then to rip it takes 600 pounds of tensile strength.”

I took it word for it that that was really strong.

I asked what he did when not designing bear-proof tents. He had been a pilot for a cargo company before the economy went down. Now he buys and sells cars. That led to a discussion of the economy and presidents’ effect on it. We were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but discussed the influence of Obama, the Bushes, Clinton and Reagan, agreeing on some points while remaining a chasm apart on others.

As we neared our camps I wondered about his wife, still sitting in her camp chair. Did she have these conversations with him—or with strange men she wandered into the woods with? And was she hot sitting there wrapped from head to foot in a long garment with a scarf around her head? So yes, you can learn a lot in a short walk in a campground, but you can also end up with a lot more questions than answers.

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Note: I have added a link to Sherry’s Salon web page in the last paragraph. I think you’ll find it is not your typical salon page.

Are we becoming England? I mean that in the best way. I think of the English as animal lovers, almost to obsession. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I am seeing the U.S. moving even more in that direction. Take one simple hour in my life today.

My hairdresser is located at a marina. Beautiful views of the harbor and the St. Johns River are right out the window. Even better is waiting for your appointment on the deck overlooking the river. But water ways with fish are magnets for stray animals. One poor pregnant cat showed up one day and gave birth in the shop (but that’s a secret). The kittens were quickly placed with customers from the shop and the diner next door. Mama kitty was spayed and was snoozing on the deck today.

Her pictures are displayed all over the shop. Today there was another picture, a digital frame flashing photos of a tiny squirrel and another cat. The shop owner took me through the story of his life beginning with the day her cat brought the tiny newborn through the cat door. That was over a year ago. The frame chronicles his move to the screened porch and finally to the outdoors, where today he has tiki bar, porch swing, picnic table with corn to share with his friends. There is even a whirligig to shoo away the hawks.

I had hardly begun my personal beautification when a guy walked in with his two-month old shitz shu puppy. We oo-ed and aw-ed over him, then talked of spiders and bats we have known in Florida.

I used to avoid going to “beauty parlors” because I felt so uneasy with the gossip and one-upmanship going on around me. You won’t find that at Sherry’s in Sanford, Florida http://www.sherryturnersalon.com/ , but you had better love animals.

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Continuing my year of new things in the new year in lieu of resolutions, I give you Buddy the gecko, native to New Caledonia. Though I am partial to reptiles, having lizards crawl on me has been a long standing no-no. But this is a new year and Buddy, the neighbor kids’ pet molted yesterday was so soft.  He did  not appear threatening.  With instructions worthy of Jack Hannah the oldest put the gecko on back of my hand.

Later we let him play on a tree truck (which they assured me he loved). Buddy is hand raised and doesn’t care too much for grass, though. Once he touched the lawn he just stared at me as I sat cross legged, then inched closer.

“He’s going to jump on me, ” I said.

He moved forward again and then leaped onto my knee, all the time staring at me with his unblinking eyes. To be fair, he has no eyelids.

“He likes you,” the kids assured me, “We’ve never seen him do that with anyone.”

Considering I had brushed with mint toothpaste to encourage nose kisses from the cats, it didn’t seem a good idea to get in Buddy’s face.  So we let him play on the tree trunk a while and then his outing was over. Let’s hope he enjoyed it as much as the kids and I.

Buddy, Gold Crested Gecko (dalmatian harlequin)

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Tis the season I don’t have time for 2,000 words, so their equivalent will help me touch base. This is what is  going on in my wildlife garden right now. At least six Monarch caterpillars have hatched on the broad leaf Monarch plant that grows as high as the eves out front. It’s a caterpillar condo with the finest acomodations. These guys hatch on the leaves, then start munching them for sustenance. The ones with finer tastes take a table by the beautiful blooms and have a regular luau.

One has already begun his new cycle. He’s formed a “J” and will soon create a beautiful, gold crowned crysalis, after which he’ll emerge in a week or ten days as a Monarch butterfly to start the cycle over again. I could not resist taking the Jesus candy cane off my lapel to hang beside him. The similarity smacked me in the face.

A glance up the well lit street and my house looks pretty bare of decorations, but then on closer look, nature has added trim no store could match.

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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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Rescuing the Indigo Snake

Indigo Snake(Photo courtesy The Nature Converancy)

Really good news this morning from The Nature Conservancy. They are working to restore indigo snakes to North Florida. If you have never seen one of these inky blue reptiles you have missed one of natures great beauties. Our property had a few when we moved here 33 years ago, but haven’t seen one in years. Go to The Nature Conversancy site here and see what it’s all about. http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/florida/science/art29518.html

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Hummer!I don’t promise these are great photography, but they are a triumph for me. I finally caught a hummer on camera. Through a double-pane window  and screen, but I caught him. This is the first time I have seen a hummingbird perch. They are always in a tizzy, flitting from flower to flower. This time he sat right down on my red pepper cage and waited until I got the camera. He wiped his beak back and forth on the wire like a chef sharpening a knife, then preened for a while. I’m in awe. So not good photography, but a great accomplishment for me.

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