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!

Stalker

I took the Texas grandkids to the Tallahassee Museum today to check out the tree to tree adventures and the resident animals. Unfortunately Jackson wasn't tall enough to tackle the challenge he'd set his heart on, so we just concentrated on the animals instead.


Broken hearted kid^^^

Dominique was more enthusiastic about walking through the exhibits than her brother:

And the only way I could get a photo of both of them in the same shot was from a distance:

We did pick up a strange stalker on our visit.

There's nothing like being stalked by a vulture to make you wonder if there is something he knows about the impending future.

This little museum is a wonderful slice of Florida.

I Wish You Could Know This Day (For My Dad)

I Wish You Could Have Known This Day by Leslie Noyes 

I wish you could have known this day, green life yearning up through the earth, bright warmth bearing 

Down from the sky. The warning screech of a protective mother guarding her threatened nest 

Upstaging a chorus of cicadas running through their limited range of vocal exercises. A pair of 

Cardinals flirting outrageously, too caught up in their dance to worry about me. How I wish you were here.

We talk about how much you’d have loved this place. I can picture you scolding the squirrels, even as

You throw tidbits of your breakfast to them.    You’d have sat on the porch, smoking and chatting up the

Neighbors. You remembered first names.