Storm Approaches; Storm Recedes, and a Turtle Trudges On

The leading edge would

Have us jumping at each flash

Of tensile lightning

Flinching at thunder

Cowering ‘neath the covers

Yearning for a pause

Rumbles grow distant

Downpour tapers to sprinkles

This storm fades away

(Found all the photos on Pinterest)

I’m always fascinated by the flow and rhythm of a storm–The light and sound parade that precedes the rainfall, the tapering off of rain followed by an encore of the opening chorus. I get chills when I get to be a witness to the greatest concert on earth.

During an intermission of the storm I’m watching a small turtle make its way across my yard.

Looks like he/she has an appointment.

Peace, people

Lessons Learned from a Snake

I do not hate snakes. That being said, I’d just as soon not encounter a venomous one in close proximity to my home, as I did one day last week.

The night following the encounter that cottonmouth occupied my dreams every time I closed my eyes to sleep. In my waking hours I mentally retraced the steps I took prior to noticing his presence next to the garage and realized I’d likely come within inches of stepping on him. It was a sobering thought.

I’ve changed some of my habits after my snake experience, and I thought the lessons learned might be worth sharing. If nothing else, they’ll help me solidify what I gained from the experience.

  1. Don’t walk and read simultaneously. The mail can wait to be sorted once you’re in the house. What a sad tale it might’ve been if I’d stepped on a viper while perusing a Talbots mailer.
  2. Not all bad guys give a warning. If my snake friend had been a rattlesnake, chances are I’d have been warned off from the start. This guy lay silently, coiled and waiting for some clueless broad walking and reading a Talbots catalog to blunder into its sharp fangs.
  3. Scan your surroundings. There’s a mnemonic acronym motorcyclists use to help avoid accidents–SIPDE. That stands for Scan (keep your eyes moving), Identify (note possible hazards), Predict (make an educated guess as to what the hazard might do), Decide (plan a course of action), and Execute (make it happen).
  4. Please note that we Executed the snake. That’ll teach him.
  5. Don’t trust your eyes, but scan anyway. He was camouflaged fairly well in his driveway matching color coordinated way. Look twice, then look again.
  6. Always carry a bazooka. (Note to self: buy a bazooka.)
  7. Don’t assume a snake is asleep just because it doesn’t respond to outside stimuli. It’s probably playing possum in hopes that you’ll be lulled into complacency. Or that you’re admiring a skirt in a fashion catalog.

I’m sure there are other lessons to be gained from my interaction with the snake, but thinking about it too much gives me the heebie jeebies.

Peace, people.

(I found the photo directly above on twitter in order to show off the cottonmouth’s cotton mouth.)

Snapshot #241

This guy was poised next to my side of the garage when I came home to Doright Manor from having lunch with a friend on Thursday.

I’d walked past him probably four or five times as I carried groceries into the house. As I hefted the last of the groceries, a 30 lb. container of cat litter, out of the trunk I happened to see him, after which I dropped the litter on my foot while screaming something unintelligible and most likely profane.

I think we’ll call this one, “Holy Effing Sh*t! It’s a Water Moccasin!”

Studly Doright came home and took care of the problem. I could have, but why take the chance of wounding his ego? Right? 😳😳😳

Tragedy in the Forest

Our elder cat, Scout, and I were lounging on the back porch yesterday afternoon having a heart to heart talk about the birds and the bees. Scout has been spayed, so it wasn’t THAT kind of talk. Instead, we were captivated by the appearance of what I believe to be a barred owl that makes a showing at Doright Manor every evening around 5 p.m.

It looks a great deal like the owl found on the Audubon Society’s page:

I told Scout that she wasn’t to try to make friends with the owl, as such an attempt wouldn’t end well for her. She assured me that she wouldn’t leave the safety of our screened-in porch, but she hesitated to vouch for her younger “sister,” Patches, saying something along the lines of, “The idiot will most likely be shoved, I mean, might accidentally run right out the door and into the grasping claws of that owl.”

There’s no love lost between my felines.

Within seconds of our conversation we heard a ruckus coming from the lake.

To me it sounded as if a predator had absconded with one of the offspring of our pair of nesting egrets. Ours aren’t as large as those pictured below, and would make a tasty snack for an alligator or even a turtle, but from the sound of the commotion something swooped down from the sky and alarmed our great egrets.

Scout turned to me and in all seriousness said, “Gee, I hope that was, I mean, wasn’t Patches.”

Such concern.

Peace, people!

Natural Florida on a Wednesday Morning

Yesterday morning I was feeling a little low. Studly Doright had been out of town for a couple of days, and I was lonely. The news, both national and local, was depressing as hell. The book I was reading couldn’t keep my attention, even though it’s an excellent bit of almost poetic mystery. My first inclination was to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and cry.

But some little niggling thought wormed its way into my head. “Girl, get outside,” it said, so I washed my face, pulled on my favorite jean capris and a comfy old t-shirt, and drove straight to Wakulla Springs State Park.

As soon as I arrived I purchased a ticket for the boat ride, but had about 45 minutes to wander around before time to board.

Below is the diving platform into one of the springs that gives the state park its name.

Above and below are photos of the outside and inside of the lodge. I visited with a young couple who were staying at the lodge and they said the rooms are lovely. Maybe some day Studly and I can spend a night out there.

Doesn’t it appear that the butterfly is hovering above the walkway outside the lodge?

About 15 minutes before the boat was scheduled to leave I hurried back to the dock and was first in line, a decision that paid off as I noted a school bus disgorging teenagers out on a day trip while I waited patiently to board.

I believe the vegetation pictured (above) beneath the water’s surface is eelgrass.

My early bird status in the boarding queue paid off, and I found myself in the front row with a couple of families and a smattering of young couples in the seats beside and immediately behind me. The teenagers and their chaperones were herded to the aft section of the boat. Yay! Although, I have to say they were extremely well behaved and seemed to enjoy the experience as much as I did.

The trip was immediately rewarding as we literally passed directly over this manatee mom and her calf after leaving the dock.

You’ll think I’m silly, but I got a bit teary eyed.

Can you spot the alligator nestled in his hiding spot? He was the first of several we saw that morning.

Above, framed by the boat’s scaffolding, is one of my favorite birds, the anhinga. Anhingas swim quite well, but they have to spread their wings to dry them upon leaving the water; otherwise, they’d be unable to fly. When anhingas swim only their heads and slender necks appear above water, giving them the appearance of snakes and earning them the nickname, snakebird.

This guy, above, was one of the larger gators we encountered.

Below, are just a couple of photos that made me happy. Our boat captain turned off the motor and let us experience the beauty around us in silence. It was like being in a true church.

Now, this guy below was one of the highlights of the tour.

Prior to us seeing him, a couple of small male alligators came shooting out of a grassy area to our port side. Our captain told us it was mating season, and the males were likely establishing territory. Then the guy above came swimming directly towards our boat, hissing as if to scare us away, before he claimed the spot the other two males had just vacated. If I’d been a better photographer I’d have captured the whole thing, but I was too busy watching with my mouth wide open as nature’s drama played out in front of me. It was incredible.

We also were privy to hearing a bull alligator’s mating call. That was quite an impressive sound. I tried my best to capture it in a video, but it didn’t come across well. The ride was a bit anticlimactic after our gator standoff, but everyone was buzzing about what we’d witnessed.

I left the park feeling so much better than I had earlier in the day. My spirits were refreshed, and world events didn’t seem quite as dark and scary as they had just a couple of hours earlier. Plus, Studly would be home soon, and I couldn’t wait to tell him about my morning.

Peace, people!

Deep Thinking about Free Stuff

Today I pondered the good things in life that are free:

A kiss, a hug, honest conversation

A walk in the park, a turn on the swings

Saturdays doing nothing

A nap, a snuggle, a genuine smile

A song, a prayer, dancing in the dark

Warm sunshine on my face

A gentle touch, a kind word, a giggle

Shared tears, shared meals

The scent of fresh cut flowers

The songs of birds as they discuss the day

Now, all this pondering was prompted by a trip to a local office supply store. Did you know that it doesn’t cost a thing to use the hole punch at Staples? Winning!

Peace, people

Forest Photo

I had nothing to publish on this Wednesday morning. Sitting in my favorite chair with a cup of peppermint tea in hand, I was stymied. As is the norm these days, the television news was depressing, so I turned off the tv and looked out the windows onto our back yard that slopes down to a small lake.

Seemingly overnight the leaves had overwhelmed the green grass resulting in a carpet of fall colors. Now I’m thinking about putting on a hoody and some boots for some serious leaf crunching. I’m sure Studly Doright would appreciate it if I did some raking while I’m out there, too.

Forest Storm

Skies darken, winds howl

Acorns fall before raindrops

Squirrels take cover

Deep blue framed window

Mute witness across the lake

Watch the storm with me

Thunder fills the gap

After expectant silence

Lightning left behind

I sat on the screened in porch yesterday afternoon as a storm moved in over the lake. The blue window in the middle picture took on the appearance of a face when I looked at it closely. Then, the bottom photo has a somewhat sinister appearance. See if you can find what I’m talking about. It freaked me out a bit.

Oh, and as I finished typing that last bit we had a very close lightning strike followed by an instant house-rattling clap of thunder. Scout (our cat) and I made a hasty retreat into the house. Whew!

Peace, people!