Capturing a Moment

Myakka GroveTrying to “capture a moment” is a lot like “saving time.” We frequently use these expressions but, honestly, neither can be done. The best we can hope for is the illusion of achievement.  Photography is perhaps the best tool in this art of illusion.  Pictures give us the sense of freezing moments in time and their evocative nature often succeeds in transporting us back in our memories and resurrecting “that feeling.”

There is a particular grove of oak trees at Myakka River State Park.  It is pictured here. I yearn to capture the beauty of it with my camera and have taken countless pictures there. It is simply magnificent, no matter the time of year or the time of day.  It seems particularly gorgeous in its spring glory.  So I share this illusion with you, this moment of time captured in bits and bytes.  Happy spring everyone. ☙

God Bless the Garbage Collectors

I was hiking around in my favorite place yesterday.  (That’s Myakka River State Park for those who are infrequent readers of my blog. )  I was heading down All-Weather Rd. at a fairly good clip, intent on getting to a trail that I had not visited in some time.  I’m not sure why I looked down but perhaps the angel on the shoulder of this Rainbow Scarab Dung Beetle cried out because my big right foot was heading right towards him.  He would have been a goner and I would have been the one who was truly crushed to have injured or killed such an incredible creature.

The Rainbow Scarab Dung Beetle is very aptly named.  He does seem to have all the colors of the rainbow on him.  He is certainly a scarab (the big horn and bright colors confirm that).  And that is a big piece of dung that he is pushing around.

I quickly dropped my gear and got down to eye level with this critter.  Have you ever seen such a thing?  He certainly is the best dressed garbage collector I’ve ever seen.  Dung beetles collect what most of us consider disgusting — excrement.     They serve us all by collecting and using the dung of animals for food and as a repository for their eggs.   In other words, they help make the dung go away.  This one was a roller and I read that dung beetles can roll up to 10 times their weight.  Other dung beetles pull their bounty and some are capable of pulling 1,141 times their own body weight: the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people!  What a creature!  Humans have long been captivated by them.  At least that’s what the reference sources say.  There are even beetle dung derbies!

So, that’s what was happening at Myakka yesterday.  Creatures going about their business, never realizing just how fantastic they are and never getting even a nod of recognition from most of us.  So, I want everyone who reads this to look at this final dung beetle picture and say, with sincerity, “Thanks for cleaning up the s#!t.”  You’ll feel better for having done so.  😉 ❧

With the Myakka River running at flood stage alligators in Myakka River State Park are like kids let out for summer vacation.  Throughout the late winter and spring months, alligators were forced into smaller and smaller areas in the Park.  It was easy to spot them from the Park Drive bridge. One day last May I counted more than a dozen ‘gators visible from the bridge.  They were all pushed into a small remnant of the River.  But now!  The school doors have opened and the alligators are everywhere!  The Park is nothing but water and as you drive along the Park Drive you hear the ‘gators “talking” to each other — a strange snorting noise that those unfamiliar with alligators attribute to bullfrogs.  But make no mistake, the ‘gators have courted and the rising waters have been as welcome as Levittown was to the returning soldiers of World War II.  Nests are being made, eggs are being laid, and soon the Park will have many new ‘gators to amuse the tourists.

This handsome young gator was no more than three feet off the main drive in the Park.

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