Thursday, February 28, 2013

While On Shore Patrol

These are not 15th century boats like the Nina and the Pinta, but they were picturesque fishing boats, I thought.

There were two dead brown pelicans on the river's edge. I was not sure if this one was nesting or ill, but it did not move as we walked past on the dock above it.

How different is this one (also a brown pelican) that stood when I got into its comfort zone.

What a handsome guy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Eyes Have It!

We stopped at the little river-walk park in Carrabelle and ate our picnic lunch before we continued our search for the Nina and the Pinta.  Walking around afterward, we watched a juvenile cormorant beneath us. Fairly plain, huh?

Take a closer look. You will need to click on the picture to enlarge it to truly appreciate those gorgeous jewel eyes.

Who knew?

I was also interested in the bike rack. It is a wonderful metal sculpture with a fish design: perfect for dockside.

The eye of the fish, had---what else?---a fish-eye lens.

(Thanks, B!)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Nina and the Pinta, Sans the Santa Maria

Two replicas of Columbus' ships were in the marina at Carrabelle for a week. We took a drive down on the only Sunday that they were there. Tickets were available to board, but that did not really interest us.

I liked the rope bumpers.

B informed me that they are officially called fenders.

Here are a few more glimpses of these ships.

The  poor original Santa Maria ran aground in the Caribbean, and was dismantled and made into the first Spanish fort in the New World in what would become Haiti. Supposedly, the Nina was Columbus' favorite and when he made his second voyage to the New World, he selected the Nina as his personal flotation device.

Of interest, one of these two ships also ran aground off St. George Island on its way into Carrabelle, but the crew was able to free it. Rather embarrassing, I would think.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mailbox Monday: Sopchoppy Pots 'n' Eggs

(That's "pots"--not "pot.")

This is the mailbox for a local potter who apparently has branched out into eggs.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

More Wolf Creek Beauty

Trilliums are such a nice way to brighten up the winter woods.

Mix the trilliums with golden trout lilies and you have yet more proof that God does love the garnet and gold!


And this last parting shot of moss on a tree that looks like some critter with green, geled up hair.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Revisiting Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve

I blogged about this place a couple of years ago, but B and I recently returned. We found it every bit as enchanting as before. Thanks to a strolling guide, we learned more about the flowers that have made this place a destination for nature-lovers.

This is  Erythronium umbilicatum, or dimpled trout lily. The botanical name comes from the long, thin (umbilical) cord that runs from the bulb up through the soil to the base of the plant that we see. The common name comes from the mottled coloring of the leaves that is thought to resemble trout skin.

The plants are rare in Florida and uncommon in the area of Georgia where these are found. But tucked away on the slope of this property near Whigham  in Grady County is the largest known collection of this species in the world: there are literally millions. This has been calculated by counting the number of plants in a square foot that can exceed 100. We must have seen them at their peak, as the slope was covered in the  yellow blooms. Because the afternoon light is required for the buds to open, looking into the light is problematic when photographing. Trust me: the ground was covered with the plants and their yellow flowers.

Here you can get a better idea of the density of the flowers.

 Here is a bud, yet to open.

Below, there is a honeybee in the flower on the top right. We saw several in flowers that were open in the sunshine. They are also reportedly pollinated by ants.

A seed pod forms.

When it opens and the seeds fall to the ground, ants are attracted to them by a sticky coating and carry them into the ground. The new crop is seen sprouting below. It will take between four and six years before they will flower.

There is only a brief opportunity to observe this beauty. The leaves come up in January and the blooms are only open for a few weeks in early February, closing each evening and reopening only on sunny afternoons. By April, the leaves also disappear and there is no sign of the plant until the following January.

Here is the website for the preserve we visited:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jelly Bellies

On the Gulf coast at St. Joseph's Peninsula, we saw these jellyfish.

On the beach at Washington Oaks on the Atlantic, we found these Portuguese Man-o' Wars.

I have just learned that while these blue guys look like jellyfish, they are actually siphonophores which are colonies of very small organisms that are not capable of living on their own. However, they sting like a jellyfish.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tucker's Point: Very Old and Bloody Dirt

Tucker's Point is at the junction of the St. Marks and the Wakulla rivers. Beyond that is the Gulf of Mexico. Because of its accessibility this spot has seen a lot of human traffic over time, as well as perhaps some human trafficking.

Both rivers are said to harbor an extraordinary amount of Paleo-Indian spearpoints, many of which are the large Clovis types that were used for spearing mastodons.

Skipping ahead a "few" years, the Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez arrived in the area in 1528. Hernando DeSoto arrived in 1539. The first fort there was built in 1679, commissioned by the Spanish Florida governor and named San Marcos de Apalache. According to what I read, it stood only three years before it was captured by pirates.

The land became English in 1673 when all of Florida was transferred from Spain. The British retained the fort during the American Revolutionary War. The land returned to Spain in the 1780s. It was once again taken by pirates as well as Indians, when in 1795, along with the Seminoles, William Augustus Bowles formed a short-lived state in northern Florida known as the "State of Muskogee", with himself as its "Director General", and in 1800, declared war on Spain. Bowles operated two schooners and boasted of a force of 400 frontiersmen, former slaves, and warriors. The Spanish took the fort back a few weeks later.

In 1818, Andrew Jackson took the fort back and claimed it for the U.S. Army, where it was the site for several  executions of prominents of the time and Indians.  It was changed into a marine hospital for a time before being used as a Confederate fort during the American Civil War. Known as Fort Ward, it was never taken by the Union troops. Soldiers from the fort participated in the critical Battle of Natural Bridge that kept the state capital from falling into northern hands. In fact, it was the only Southern state capital not taken.

This  place has very old--- and very bloody--- dirt.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mailbox Monday: Great Blue Deja Vu

I grew up with wooden screen doors. The one on the front door had a decorative iron panel much like the one on this mailbox. They were very common in Florida at the time.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Vegetarian Recovery Center

This BBQ place over on the east coast advertises with this wonderful, old rust-bucket truck and a catchy sign about aiding vegetarians.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cabbage Head

Our daughter-in-law said this picture of B holding a freshly cut cabbage from our garden reminds her of "The Little Shop of Horrors".  Not having seen that show, it just made me think of pictures I have seen of vegetables grown in Alaska in the long summer days. 

This is not a fish picture. B actually had the cabbage almost touching his nose. The outer leaves were HUGE. Once they were removed, the cabbage weighed only 2.5 pounds.  That's still plenty of cabbage.

Interestingly, according to Urban Dictionary.....

A cabbage head can be a person who is not very bright.

A cabbage head can be a derogatory name for someone of Irish descent.

A cabbage head can be a drug user who will try anything without thought of consequences.

A cabbage head is a resident of a neighborhood in Atlanta called Cabbagetown.

Cabbage Head is the name of a character on a show.

Well, I learned something!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Not Cupid, But an Angel

Because it was a cool Valentine's Day, I chose a red jacket to wear over my fleece to stand out and get children out of the cars as they arrived at school and later on the playground. I did not need it again until evening when B and I walked around the block and, at 46 degrees with a wet breeze, it was very comforting.  Later in the kitchen, I was distracted by something on my shoulder. I reached up and plucked it off. I recognized it immediately. It was a white, curly hair that had once belonged to my mother, as had the red jacket.  Yes, it has been through the wash since she last wore it. But somehow it had remained steadfastly inside the sleeve, waiting for my fuzzy fleece to relocate. It may sound silly but it seemed like a very sweet gift. A sad, sweet gift.

Mama died two years ago last Christmas. It does not seem possible that it has been that long since we last talked and touched. 

Mama never could do much with her thin, fine hair and relied on others to help her with it. I was just a young girl when I took on much of this responsibility. I remember her sitting on the floor between my feet as I put her wet hair in pink rollers. Then she sat under a bonnet-type, portable hair dryer. When it was dry,  I would carefully remove the rollers and comb out the curls and spray, spray, spray on the hairspray to help keep the shape for the day. Later, we would switch to blow dryers and electric rollers. She would complain they were too hot. (There weren't any temperature controls.) After that came the electric curling irons, that she liked to remind us were modeled after the ones she used as a girl that had to be heated on a hot stove.  After, I moved away, she had regular beauty shop appointments but anytime we were together, it was just understood that I would still do her hair. 

More and more, I see her face in mine. I only pray that I have not only her face, but also her heart.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Have a Heart of Stone

I took this picture at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast last weekend. I will be posting more about this unique place where large outcroppings of coquina stone create very interesting features on this Atlantic beach in Florida.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Showing Off Our Bloomers

When this african violet was given to me, I brought it home, thinking, "Well, I 'll give it a shot." 
I have never lived where the light was right for african violets. They are quite particular. With this said, I must tell you that I was a charter member of the Junior African Violet Society in my neighborhood when I was still in elementary school. There was an older woman a few houses over who grew prize-winning violets and she agreed to have her home invaded for meetings on some agreed upon schedule that now alludes me. What I DO remember is that if we arrived too early, we had to sit quietly and wait for her soap opera to be finished.  And that every meeting had refreshments.

My mother grew beautiful african violets and my brother and sister successfully tend to those now. But as I said, this is the first one I have been able to get to bloom. It sits in a very high window in the hall bathroom, which is on the north side of the house. It is, in fact, the only window on the north side. I was so excited in December when I noticed buds on it when it was getting its weekly watering. This weekend, I counted twenty blooms. Mama would be proud of me.

This other plant is a Christmas cactus. They also can be picky. B's brother gave him this large one many years ago when it outgrew their porch. One year it was truly amazing, simply covered with blooms. The next year, squirrels developed a taste for it or thought there was something desirable in the pot. At any rate, they all but destroyed it. This year it is back. Not like it was, but maybe one year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shiver Me Timbers and Ahoy There, Matey!

At the Crooked River Lighthouse is a little playground and picnic pavilion. The main attraction is a wooden sailing ship that children, young and not so young, can explore. We had fun climbing aboard.

Here is what you can see of it from the top of the lighthouse.

I wish I could take my kindergarten class here. They would have a blast. Alack and alas, it is too far for a fieldtrip for such young lads and lasses.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mailbox Monday: Fish House Box

Make sure you do not miss the wire pelican attached to the top. The background foliage makes it hard to see.