Image #213 – Oak Cathedral

SAMSUNG CSCIt was really a beautiful  day here. Tango and I hiked to one of my favorite spots along the orange trail at Myakka, off Fox’s High Road. I call it Oak Cathedral.  Today it was particularly stunning with the new tree moss blooms shinning bright red in the sunlight, looking like stained glass windows.  It is so peaceful in this grove.  We lingered here for quite a while and many thoughts passed through my mind.  I have cousins and friends who are going through some difficult, grief-filled times. I wished I could transport them all to this spot. For the grieving soul there is no better place than nature. Long hikes are not required. It is as simple as sitting quietly in your yard or a nearby park. The comfort is there, waiting to be embraced. ❧

Image #212 – Soft-shell Turtle Relocation

Image #212

Staying at Mary’s place is fun. We get to do interesting things like feed the cow, Bob, and take pictures of the geese.  Last Sunday a turtle wandered into the yard. I had already encountered a previous turtle and helped him into the pond but Mary said the turtles bother the geese and she would rather not have them in her pond. So I put this one into a tub and he went to Myakka River State Park with Kim and I. We released him into Clay Gully and wished him godspeed. ❧

Image #208 – I Wish I Knew

Image #208

I had a nice hike at Myakka River State Park on Sunday along with my friend Kim and, of course, Tango.  It was Kim who spotted the plant above.  At the time I was busy collecting my dog who had decided to go for a swim in the marshy area by the two-track path we were following. I didn’t really mind that he decided to go for a swim but his backpack contained my macro lens!  Thankfully no harm was done.  Tango did need a bath afterwards.

But I digress. This tiny gem is about 2″ in circumference and seems to favor marshy ground. We found numerous clusters near the marsh but none further on. Alas, all my reference books are in NC and I am in FL so I had to dig a bit on the web.  The “petals” as you can see, are spiked with a dewy substance on the tips.  The plant seemed carnivorous so I ran a search on Bing images but, as usual, there were pictures with no data.  I did locate one plant that was very similar and it had a name–Sundew.  So I proceeded with a search based on  “Sundew” plant and learned it was part of the Drosera family–there are more than 170 species.  So, Sundew is as good as it gets. They are small and easy to overlook–especially when you dog goes swimming with your macro lens. 🙂

Image #204 – Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo

Sorry if you were expecting a blog on Wild Turkey bourbon. This is the real deal, a young Wild Turkey from Myakka River State Park. At one point in time Wild Turkeys were virtually extinct in Myakka. Hunters had decimated the abundant flocks in the early 20th Century but the bird was re-introduced and protected. It now thrives. Perhaps these birds have some genetic memory of the slaughter their ancestors endured. They are always on the move, pecking quickly at the ground, never stopping…or so it seems. It has been hard to get a good picture but this picture shows quite a bit of the beautiful coloring on these birds. ❧

Image #203 – Wild Blueberries

Wild Blueberry blossoms
Wild Blueberry blossoms

Tango and I got out to Myakka River State Park yesterday and had an excellent hike along Fox’s Low Road.  Spring is definitely springing here in Florida. The oak trees have that lovely spring green color, wild flowers can be found and, as you can see from the photo, the blueberries have started to produce their fruit.  From blossom to fruit is about 4-6 weeks, so these bushes will be ready to feed the birds when it is time to fly back north. What a marvel nature is. ❧

Image #166 – Gaping Gator

Alligator at Myakka River State Park
Alligator at Myakka River State Park

I’ll be heading down to Florida soon where I plan to spend a few weeks. Looking forward to getting back out to Myakka River State Park and taking more gator pictures, like this one.  Unless there is a severe drought the odds are very good that you will see a gator at Myakka.  They are all over the place out there.  Best of all they love to congregate by the Park Drive bridge which makes getting photos like this one quite easy and safe. ❧

Image #165 – Nine Turkeys Trotting

Image #165

This picture of wild turkeys was taken last year at Myakka River State Park. There was a time at Myakka when wild turkeys were nearly extinct.  They were aggressively hunted in Myakka Park and  a part of me can understand why. The meat of these turkeys would not be anything like the Butterball that some of you cooked last week for Thanksgiving. But I feel certain it was satisfying never the less.  And wild turkeys have beautiful feathers that no doubt pulled down a nice chunk of change in the early decades of the 20th century when women’s hats were elaborately adorned with feathers.  Living here in North Carolina, where poverty is a very real thing, I find myself thinking about all of this in a different way. It takes me back to my very early days in New England when I recall many classmates who were malnourished and poorly clothed, but once we moved to the gleaming Gulf coast of Florida it seemed poverty went into my rearview mirror. I suppose that was the goal. Still, these “pockets” of poverty are with us and extend to our urban areas as well. Any one who has watched the news in recent days has probably heard about the battle for a higher minimum wage. The current requirement of $7.25 an hour is a pittance and can barely sustain a single individual much less a family. If you want a concise essay on that battle I suggest the article by Richard Trumka and Christine Owens on CNN.

We’ve managed to protect the turkeys in Myakka and they are flourishing. Can we find a way to help our fellow human beings? ❧

Image #157 – When the weather turns bad …

It has been a miserable … wait, let me amend that.  It has been a MISERABLE day here in Western North Carolina.  It has been raining steadily since the wee hours of the morning and my rain gauge is showing more than 2″.  Our temperature has been above freezing so the precipitation has remained liquid. That will change tonight when the forecast says that snow will begin and carry on through most of tomorrow.

Sigh….

There really is nothing you can do about the weather except have faith that it will change and remember happier times. So on a yucky day like today I try to remember better times and returned to my photo diary to see what I was up to last year. It appears that I was hiking in the Myakka Park Wilderness area, a lovely pristine part of an already pristine place. Here’s a picture from that day.

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As you can see it was a beautiful day and Myakka was, as always, sublime. On my way out the area I encountered a deer who stopped and calmly assessed my intent. I passed muster and she walked away quietly. I hope she is enjoying a warm, sunny and peaceful day. ❧

Image #157(1)

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