Not just any library, I’m talking about the main branch of the Clearwater library. And not any old Tuesday night either, it’s very other Tuesday night after we’ve gone back to Eastern Standard Time. That’s when they allow patrons, with and without cameras, to access the roof and watch the sunset. Access is granted about a half hour before sunset, and once the sunset is over the roof is closed again for another two weeks. My photo group plans a trip every chance we get, and we collectively cross our fingers that the weather will cooperate. Tuesday night was a good one for this activity. I’ve also been there when I nearly froze to death and didn’t take a single picture. But that was the exception, this is Florida after all…I double-checked and we have a photo walk to the library every other Tuesday night, but the rooftop is available every Tuesday night in Eastern Standard Time. In looking that up I discovered that there is a gym there, and that you can check out power tools. Now I find that surprising! It’s worth a visit, don’t you think?
When it comes to being thankful I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Walter. He’s not exactly a new friend, he’s the young man I’ve talked with before while watching the sunrise at Aripeka. But now we’ve exchanged names and phone numbers, and that’s because he has had a recent encounter with One-Foot Fred. And he even took a picture! Be still my heart! I had mentioned Fred to him since he gets to a lot more sunrises in Aripeka than I do. I told him that Fred used to be on the bridge with me every time I was there, but then he disappeared. I don’t think I’d seen him for a year, but that includes time I wasn’t even in Florida. So I asked Walter if he’d ever seen Fred and he hadn’t, but I did tell him that I’ve been told by several fishermen that Fred still comes around now and then. So the minute Walter noticed that the heron he was watching only had one foot he knew it was Fred. I had only watched him as he posed for me on the bridge, but Walter watched him fishing. Fred would use his stub to take a step but would have to catch himself and balance as he landed on his other foot. Walter was impressed with his obvious adaptation to his new reality. Walter also mentioned that it’s probably lucky that herons stand in the shallow water and wait for lunch to come to them. He was pretty impressed with old Fred. I’m so happy to hear this news and know that Fred is okay, and so happy to have a picture also. Thanks Walter!
I doubt that any amount of editing would have been able to improve the quality of these photos. The movies they are taken from have been collecting dust for about 64 or so years. The person behind the camera had his/her own thumb featured prominently in some shots, and each stop to record only lasted a second or two. Trying to pause the film and take a picture with the phone at just the right moment was a challenge, and I would miss that split second opportunity time and time again.
But I hope you’ll indulge me this trip down memory lane because these pictures represent a favorite memory, and the only real vacation trip my family ever took. We drove in a caravan with several other families, and I remember it so fondly. I remember rafting in Ausable Chasm, seeing the colors of the rock walls rising up on each side of the river. I remember going to Fort Ticonderoga, and the ferry ride on Lake Champlain. But the memory I remember most is the pony ride at Frontier Town, and how mad as a hatter I was that they didn’t let me just ride that pony by myself. I was sure I knew all there was to know about horses. No, not only did they not let me just take off on my own, but they had my sister leading the pony. If a cowboy had been leading the horse I might have taken it better, or maybe not. I’m happy to say that it looked like I was having fun so I must have kept my annoyance to myself. Seeing a movie of exactly the memory I remember best was pretty amazing. What also stood out as I watched the movie was that I was amazed to see the actors galloping into town during the re-enactment of a bank robbery. The visitors were right there, milling around, and they just galloped those horses through the town. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t fly these days! And apparently water boarding was a thing too.
I’ve talked quite a few times about how much I cherish the memories I have from exactly this age. From the neighborhood I lived in then, and the people who made a lasting impression enough on me that I never actually let them go. And I’ve been so lucky to reconnect with them and to have them in my life again. And now to actually see that little kid that I was., the me before I let the world beat me into submission, so to speak. I liked that me, I’m glad to have her back…Thanks for indulging me this trip down memory lane.
Errands brought me to Main Street, New Port Richey the other day. Much to my surprise I noticed a lovely little park there, but couldn’t stop to investigate that day. So today I made it a point to go back and check it out. It was a quiet little spot, in that there were not many people walking, but a nearby playground supplied all the happy kid noises you could ever want. This weather is my very favorite time in Florida. By our standards it was almost sweater weather, though my Northern friends would think we were nuts.I walked around the lake, mostly because I saw all the birds across the way. But before I had gotten to taking pictures another walker stopped me to ask if I’d seen the duck on a nest. I hadn’t, I had walked right past it. He said there were four eggs there, and he and his daughters had just seen her rearrange the eggs and settle back down on them. I thought her nest was not very protected, even if getting a photo was a challenge.I did get around to taking pictures of the birds, but it was the flowers and the bees that got me in trouble. I walked across the grass to get close enough to the flowers, but when I turned to go back to the car I found myself walking through wetness in the grass. In my flip flops. Mud. I’ve insisted that there is no mud in Florida, but I was wrong. This wasn’t just mud, it was more like tar, and it ended my travels for the day. I think I’m glad I didn’t have my hiking shoes on after all, they wouldn’t have survived. Flip flops, however, have at least nine lives.
We were out for an early photography class on Saturday morning, which left us lots of time for lunch and a stop in Tarpon Springs before heading home. I found the Christmas decorations they had up to be a bit jarring, but that’s just me, I’m a bit of a humbug. It was a lovely, sunny-but-not-too-hot day, perfect for enjoying the sky, and the boats, and the birds. And trying to remember the tips we’d learned in class that morning. There are many vendors trying to entice you to take the various cruises that leave out of Tarpon Springs daily. A sunset cruise would probably be a good idea. My friend would like to take it one step further and thinks it would be a great idea if we took a sunset cruise out on one of these tiny tiki bar boats. Hmm, what could possibly go wrong with that idea???
Back when I first began blogging I read that your feature photo ought to be chosen to lure the reader in to read your blog. Of course that sounded like a good idea. But I seem to always be limited to only one or two in a series of photos that would lend themselves to that banner-like crop that I need to do for the blog. There were flocks of these birds flying, but too high up to see detail. I still don’t know what they are for sure, I suspect wood storks. Anyhow, he was going to be my feature photo until the dolphin photo came up. Sorry fella!
This photo walk out of the Chinsegut Conservation Center was a bit of a back to the beginnings trip for me. Early one morning I saw a Facebook post about a bird photography class that was happening at the center, and I wanted to go. I had a new digital camera at the time, and was barely functional with it, so I called to see if they had room for one more. Not only did I begin to learn the camera, but I found friends, and I probably would never have begun blogging without another class that I took at the center later on. Yes, a coming home of sorts,
But I’m not the nature photographer that my friends are. Not every walk in the woods leads to great photos, and I confess that the description of this trip left me skeptical about the photos I might get. So to hedge my bets a bit I got to the center early in hopes of seeing birds at the many feeders there. And they were there. A Downey woodpecker, a red-headed (but not cockaded) woodpecker, a summer tanager, and a tufted titmouse pair that entertained me for quite a while. That meant I could relax and just enjoy the field trip and not worry about the pictures we’d get.
Off we went into the woods, and 20 miles in we found the banded trees that indicated the habitat of the red-cockaded family in question. It was then that I discovered that we weren’t waiting for a flock of these birds to arrive en masse, but just one family. And the banded trees each had the little holes where nesting activity was potentially happening. Young males stay with the family helping to raise the young and doing the necessary tending to the nests which keeps the sap running. The sap is their defense against their nests being raided by snakes. Clever, don’t you think?And it was a successful trip. Yes, one of the birds in question did show up and zoom into the hole in the tree and disappeared. Not one of us got a shot of that. The leader of the trip said that he felt that that was it, the event was over. But he had one trick up his sleeve. He used his phone to play the call of the red-cockaded woodpecker, rather quietly I thought, but it was enough to get this little guy to stick his head out of the nest to see what was going on.
No, it wasn’t a dramatic story. But these are the dramas that are happening all around us everyday, and we are too busy with out own lives to notice. But when we do take time to notice it doesn’t disappoint.