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)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We Break from the Hustle and Bustle of Life

Planning for some end of summer get away time, hubby and I picked out a sleepy historic Fernandina Beach town in the northeast corner of Florida to spend our week. We've been here before but not for this many days.

It's a place where charming old houses line red brick streets.

Because the weather has been so wonderfully mild we are doing one of my favorite things which is eating where outdoor patios are offered for dining ...

... and poking around in quaint shops in the downtown district turned trendy merchant stops and too many good restaurants to hit them all.

But my absolute most excitement comes when hubby joins me on a back roads tour of this northern-most barrier island ...

... stopping to explore what is to be found beside the roads and into the trails of woodsy haunts...

... filled with native flowers and overgrown shrubs for the butterflies (how many butterflies can you see in this photo?), bees, and birds to feast among...

... There were literally dozens of our winged friends hovering in and about the acres of land preserved at the northern tip on the Atlantic Coast of Amelia Island.

It became a common sight to see the large spiders with webs from large, high limbs to ground... just hanging around... with not a bother seemingly to be aware of...

... poke weed was abundant...

and these beautiful cat tails sitting in the pools of water along the estuaries on the bay side. The sight of which evoke lots of memories from childhood days. We used to cut them down and pull off the soft cottony outsides... before it was illegal.

A masonry fort built in 1847 by Army engineers is the main attraction within the 1427 acres of a state park on the tip of the island. Fort Clinch is located at the mouth of the St. Mary's River and served as a military post during the Civil War, Spanish- American War and WWII.

The area is an unique blend of maritime hammocks, with large Spanish moss draped live oaks prevalent throughout. Coastal grasslands meet the hammocks and stretch along the shore behind dunes on the Atlantic Ocean and Cumberland Sound. It is a wonderful place for a wide range of wildlife (we saw deer tracks on the beach), marine life, wading birds, and shorebirds.

The Atlantic coastline beyond the fort was almost completely deserted. Just the way we like it.

Other than nature that thrives along miles of untouched shoreline, we had the beach to ourselves.

Tomorrow we plan to cross over the Florida-Georgia line to St. Mary's. From there we will take a ferry to Cumberland Island where there are no cell phone towers, no satellite, no cars ...

more of nature's finest awaits...

update: I was incorrect about cell phones. There is no Internet service but we were able to use our cell phones (we left ours off however). There were national park vehicles on the island, too. There aren't any paved roads.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blue Ridge Mountain Images

At the very end of a windy mountain road in Blue Ridge, Georgia, with no neighbors in view, sits the cabin, with the name Tranquility, that was to be our retreat for a few days. And retreat is was. Four girls. Three generations. All family. Some from Tennessee. Some from Florida. We talked, we laughed, we cried, we prayed, we walked, we ate ... together ... and so much of it happened next to that wonderful outdoor fireplace on the expansive wrap around porch.

The initial post on this get-away trip is documented here.

So without too many words, I'll say goodbye for now, to densely treed woodlands, drier cooler air, afternoon hikes, candlelit fireside talks into the late night hours, sunrises and sunsets over the distant mountains, species of wildlife and wildflowers I'll not see until I return and the family I only see occasionally.

Great Spangled Fritillary on Butterfly Bush

Not sure of this pretty blue-tipped butterfly's name...

Tiny blue Summer Azure...

Profuse blooms of hydrangea with the just-as-pretty spent bloomheads of coneflower in the background ...

... pink sedum ... I'm wondering if this is Autumn Joy I've seen on so many blogs ... none in central Florida of course.

And a slide show of fungi specimens you might be as intrigued about as I found myself ... taking closeups of so many different varieties found along our walking trail.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blue of the Blue Ridge Mountains

As a mini-get-a-way and a way to celebrate a milestone birthday for my mom, some of the girls in the family have come together in a most peaceful cabin setting in the Blue Ridge mountains. With no other cabins in sight and only the sounds of crickets, birds and the crackle of the outdoor fireplace, we are all finding ourselves winding down from our particular busyness and easily relaxing with the change of pace here.

My sister, Marmee, has more photos up at her site and I know she would be more than happy to welcome you and share with you, if you are so inclined to pop over and pay her visit.

Taking a mountain hike is a must to discover our surroundings up close and personal. With so many majestic views to capture I was certain you'd want to come along. The limelight hydrangeas dripping over the railing are at their peak. We can't grow them in my neck of the woods so I am drooling over their clustered limey petals with that soft blush of pink around the edges.

Wild flowers abound of which I do not know the names but the colors and textures are a delight to behold anyway.

... Bees buzzing everywhere doing their all important flower hopping.

Flowers growing tall above the brush in pink sprays (is this sedum or Joe pye weed or....?) of splendor adding to the mountain mystique.

Poke berries dangling from their vine helping me to realize autumn is in the air.

None of these flowers grow down in my part of the world. So its worthy to note my childlike feelings of discovery everytime I visit the mountains. I am in wonderment of the remarkably beautiful flora flourishing roadside without any help from humans.

... so many colors, forms, textures, and variety appealing to the gardener and nature lover in the deepest part of my soul.

A sea of white wild flowers lined an entire side road providing so much nectar for butterflies and bees in these woodlands.

It's been a treat for me to take you along on my photo journey. I hope you've liked sharing this special time with me on the first leg of my mountain hike. I've taken so many photos it seemed necessary to break them up into more than one post. We're not leaving until tomorrow so surely there are more adventures to be had as well.

Here's to hoping you enjoy your weekend. Meems