Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

the nature coast of florida

we've driven by the highway signs on many trips to the panhandle but it's been years since we stopped in for a visit. yesterday hubby and i ventured north about 2 hours to the sleepy little nature coast town of cedar key.

we drove around the few streets that make up the tourista district. with several choices of restaurants we randomly asked a couple of the locals where they would eat for lunch.

after a few varied suggestions, tony's seafood was our pick. we both had a very decent grouper sandwich.

walking off that yummy lunch we sauntered through the few short blocks of art dealers, gift stores, consignments, the city museum ...

and down to the public park/beach area. it was interesting to learn that the Florida Railroad connected the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf of Mexico by way of Cedar Key with the first coast to coast train in 1861. that railroad service ended and the track removed in 1932.

we then ventured out to look at property/houses along the coast and drove to the "airport". i spotted a kingfisher perched on a power line and frantically made hubby slam on the brakes and back-up- then said, "no, wait. i'll just hop out here." oh well... it flew away at first sight of me.

at that moment the flitting about of several teeny butterflies caught my eye on these low lying weeds. they appear purple when in flight... i don't know the exact ID but they are some variety of the blues...

what a thrill to capture two in one shot!

i just love the look and feel of the open marshes...

while exploring the outskirts we spotted this newly built walkway without any signs or information as to what it lead to or why it was there. we parked the car and walked the length of it as it wound us around the perimeter of a cemetery on one side and the edge of this marsh on the other ...

eventually it ended at a point where we were completely alone with only the sound of shore birds flying overhead and water gently lapping at the edge of the shore.

we spent a fair amount of time wandering around here seeing what we could see. of course i snapped loads of photos but it was getting late and time to turn back towards home.

thanks, hubby, for a beautiful and memorable special day!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

touring historic lake wales, florida

mom and i spent a day together last week in lake wales. our first stop was chalet suzanne for a 7 course, leisurely, talk-all-we-want lunch. thanks, mom. it had been many years since we had visited this part of florida.

"A favorite of celebrities, Chalet Suzanne has a proud heritage and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the property are five dining rooms, 30 guest rooms, a landing strip for airplanes, a gift shop, Spa, the Ceramic Salon, a Cannery for soups and sauces, citrus groves and a small experimental vineyard."

this was the view taken through the window from the dining room... with an anhinga in one snag and a little blue heron in the other.

flowers, fountains, statues, and an abundance of butterflies surround the structures on the acreage.

white peacock

zebra longwing
after our ample meal (my fav - carrot cake for dessert) it was on to bok sanctuary and gardens a few miles away. in 1922, Edward Bok decided to create a sanctuary for birds and people in Florida because he was so awed by the beauty of Iron Mountain. (until this tour i never knew we had mountains in florida. hmmm.. more like a hill ... but even a hill in florida is something to be pondered.) mr. bok acquired a large tract of sandy soil covered with pines and palmettos and hired a landscape architect to transform the area into a sanctuary that would "touch the soul with its beauty and quiet."

Mr. Bok decided to add a 205' carillon tower to be a visual and aural centerpiece for the garden. It is a majestic marble and coquina belltower housing 60 bronze bells ranging in weight from 16 pounds to nearly 12 tons. it is one of 4 carillons in florida. the carillon delights visitors with 30 minute concerts every day.

mr. bok claims to have been inspired by the words of his grandmother, "make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."

the view from "iron mountain"

it was a beautifully quiet day in the gardens with perfect temps. we stayed to watch the sunset which didn't disappoint in its painting the sky a glorious pink and orange.

i'll share the flowers and wildlife of bok gardens in another post.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

the hawk and the wren

mom and i spent the day together in lake wales. there are lots of things i will share about our visit to bok sanctuary. but that will wait.

early this morning as i was doing some hand watering something unusual caught my attention out of the corner of my eye.

it was this big guy sitting on top of my bird feeder of all places. yep... right out in the open in my back yard. it was an odd sight given the fact that he is almost as large as the feeder and it is situated in a vulnerable position for the hawk. since i already had my car packed for our day trip, i had to do a little hustling for my camera. even though the hawk was still perching on the feeder by the time i returned to the back yard-- he quickly flew to the ground as i rounded the corner trying to be nonchalant-- then he was up to an oak limb in one swift move and down again in my neighbor's yard where i captured this photo of its gorgeous backside. i'm still trying to capture one in flight. there are several of these pairs in our neighborhood and they were all over the place this morning.

following the hawk chase and its vacancy on the feeder, this carolina wren took up the lookout position. now normally seeing these little fellows isn't all that unusual around these parts, but it isn't their usual habit to frequent bird feeders. mostly they move quite quickly and foraging on the ground in and under the brush is their favorite way to gather breakfast. these small birds have an remarkably sweet song that fills the morning air.

i have oodles of photos from our beautiful day in lake wales i will get to as soon as i can.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

noticing florida

there was a time in my life (pre-blogging days) when i would be out and about and disappointedly wish i had my camera with me for some moment of celebration or sighting of something i would otherwise have enjoyed capturing. i'm getting pretty good about keeping one with me all the time these days. my family gives me a little grief (or you might say a little rolling of the eyes) over this fact but they love me -- so for the most part -- they tolerate my newfound obsession.
these photos are not from my home but from places close by. ordinary places i go often or not so often. but while i'm there taking the time to pay attention; to look beyond the usual and to what nature presents right in front of me and capturing what i can.

taking advantage of our tourista weather a couple of days ago i met my daughter and her son at a playground close to her home (i also took oodles of photos of him). right next to the play area was a pond where i was able to photograph a great blue heron, a great egret, a snowy egret, and white ibis. while i was doing that i spotted this anhinga looking like a snake stretching its head beak first up out of the water and then completely submerging for seconds. i knew this is how they forage for meals but had never actually witnessed the process.

after a couple of dives it came up with a catch -- i guess it was an appetizer because it went right back to fishing. these are the birds that have to dry their wings before flying again when they've finished their meals.

a few minutes later these two sandhill cranes came swooping down to check out the ground for some dinner. even though these are a fairly common sight in this area, i never tire of seeing them fly overhead or the sound of their distinctly loud rattling call.

the rest of the photos are snaps that remind me of the season. it finally 'feels' like autumn has arrived in florida and it is truly glorious to be outdoors.

Florida Native Plant: American Beauty Berry Callicarpa americana
I have officially added this plant to my wishlist. The birds will enjoy this addition in my garden.

the fruit from an indian hawthorne bush from my daughter's yard. just when she didn't think she had anything in her yard worthy of a snap. here are a few more...

my 20 month old grandson is fascinated (more like obsessed) with acorns these days- he pronounces it A'torns. he's partial to the kajillion that have scattered to the ground, collecting them in his pudgy little hands until he has so many we transfer them to a bowl. i like the ones on the trees because they are a beautiful reminder of autumn.

giant clusters of queen palm seeds... first green (background) and then ripe amber... another reminder of our tropical florida autumn.

i hope you are enjoying all the signs of autumn wherever you are. what are some of things you love about autumn?