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)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Evening Drive

In Florida, in the midst of summertime, it's a good idea to take advantage of the morning hours and the evening hours for getting out and about outdoors.

This evening was a good time to take a drive over to the bay waters to watch the sunset. Mr. Meems and I were thinking fresh seafood sounded good for dinner so we headed to a favorite restaurant of ours in Tarpon Springs. It's about a 30 minute drive on two lane roads with lots of wide open spaces on either side of the road. We ate outside over the water and watched the dolphins swim by and the boats ride by.

Afterwards, we took some of the windy roads through old neighborhoods just to look at the houses and the area in general. There are some historic homes big and small... some on the water and some not. The evening air was clear and salty as we eased along with the top down on the car.

Even though there were clouds aplenty the colorful sunset did not disappoint tonight . It was intense on the western horizon with reflective pinks splashed in every other direction.

Sunset Beach was an appropriate stopping point to walk off a little too much dinner and breathe in the beauty as the night closed in on us.
A peaceful and restful end to our weekend. I hope you all had a great weekend, too.
Blessings, Meems

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Squirrelly Acrobatics and Northern Parula

Ordered in February and requested to be delivered in mid-June over 300 caladium bulbs were calling my name to be put in the ground. I spent Monday and Tuesday this week planting most of them. This endeavor started but put on hold a couple of weeks ago.

There was more to be done than the bulb planting but they were my most important objective. I always seem to forget how fast and furious every thing grows this time of year. Trimming is a constant chore here but now that the nights are warm too it can become a jungle around here pretty rapidly if I don't stay on it!

Cloudy Day Reprieve

There's been a predicted 60% chance of rain every day for a week (somehow it has missed my plot of ground for the last 6 days but I digress ;->). Yesterday was cloudy and overcast all day and it was actually surprisingly pleasant in the garden shade. Most often the clouds only shield the sun's intense rays but yesterday it seemed a slight bit less humid. I can stand the heat ... it's the humidity that makes gardening this time of year not nearly as ... let's say... refreshing.
Blue jays are unusually abundant this year ... I keep meaning to do some research to see if there is a reason for this. I don't mind them as long as they leave the smaller birds alone. They tend to be a little aggressive at the feeders.

Activity was happening all around me while I worked. It's interesting how the wildlife doesn't seem to hardly notice me once I've been working in the same spot for a while. The birds especially seem to get comfortable and scurry about their business as if I'm not there. Naturally, it is more often than not when my camera is not near me.
Anyone know what this fly bug is? When it flies the double wings on either side of the body flutter in opposite rythmn of the other one. It was kind of feminine looking if you know what I mean. The four wings are clear like those of a dragon fly but are folded against its body when resting rather than stationery out to its side. A damsel fly wings don't lay next to its body like this ... I don't think. This little critter held still on the stalk of a society garlic stem while I snapped away.

Purposely I've set up bird feeders filled with safflower seed only. The cardinals, chickadees, titmice, wrens, parulas & other small birds especially like this fare. The squirrels are not supposed to like it. This method has worked for Hoe & Shovel for several years ... until this year. For some reason there are some squirrels around here that didn't get the memo. It amazes me how far they can fly, how long they can stretch and how much their lazy-selves can eat. If they don't eat the seed they scatter it quickly to the ground with the weight and scratching around of their bodies. It has forced me to keep smaller amounts in the feeders and refill them more often. Otherwise it is wasted in a hurry by all that lands on the ground. Squirrels are a nuisance in general and we have loads of them around her.

The camera was pointed on the squirrel when this juvenile titmice flew in to land on another feeder right next to me. The juveniles didn't hear their parents when they warned them not to get this close to humans.

Every Little Bird in the Tall Oak Tree
While giving all the new caladium bulbs a good drink of water suddenly there were all kinds of little birdies literally trying to fly into the spray.
I've noticed there's an interesting thing that happens when watering in the middle of the day. Often times the birds will start flying all around the water in an effort to get to the water. I am always amazed at how close they get and how many of them will flutter all around me and the water without fear. All of a sudden there were titmice and northern parula pairs flitting from tree limbs and dipping in the air to get to the fresh water. In pairs they swooped down to almost reach the spray of the water but not quite reaching it would land on a nearby branch, fly back up to an oak limb higher in the air and back to try again.

After this went on for a few minutes I dropped the hose, went to get my camera in hopes they would come back when I returned. Strapping the camera around my neck with one hand on the snapper and the other hand commencing to water I waited to see if they were still game for a quick sprinkler spray-bath.

I have been trying for weeks to get close enough to the 4 inch cutie Northern Parula that have taken up residence here. It wasn't long and a few of them came back to flit back and forth from the towering oak tree trunks and branches to perch in the low branches of the xanadu. They ducked their little heads around under the wet leaves of the variegated schefflera to refresh their feathers in a midday sprinkler shower.

After all that activity in the back garden I walked around to the front garden to put my tools away and call it a day. My eye caught sight of a pileated woodpecker in flight from my trees to across the street to the neighbor's. A fairly common sighting, but nevertheless I paused to watch its landing as I never tire of the wonders of the outdoors. Almost simultaneously I looked straight ahead from where I was standing and a red bellied (above) woodpecker was intently foraging a small, empty cavity on the bark of an oak. Then as I snapped away on my camera another motion caught my attention on the oak limb 8 feet above my head.
A downy woodpecker (that didn't cooperate for a great photo) was also foraging the cracks and crevices of the oaks.
There is so much to enjoy when outdoors. There really is nothing like spending time and breathing in the joys of all of God's creation.