Robins, big deal, right? But not in Florida. Not when you have just started taking pictures daily and consequently you do notice when a flock of robins land. And you realize that you don’t see them all the time. And they proceed to splash around in the lake in your (now former) backyard. But I did see them land in this park that I now call home the other day. And I hear them. They are on the ground, in the trees, and in the air. So everywhere basically. And I’ll take pictures because they will move on before too long. I don’t see how you can pay attention to nature and not know deep down that there really is a God…
I had my camera ready in case I saw anything photo worthy on my way to Longboat Key, so when I saw horses on the beach you know I had to stop for a picture. For a brief moment I thought how fun it would be to ride a horse on the beach, and then I remembered my age and thought better of that idea. I also stopped to see the whashed up boat on the causeway again, hoping that the RV would be gone. And it was! But a car with a kayak on top was parked way too close to the front of the boat. Seems you can’t win.
When I heard that there was a lot of driftwood on the beach nearby the condo I really didn’t picture this. Driftwood trees, decorated with shells, was new to me.
My friend found it amazing that this Great Blue Heron let us walk as close to him as we did while we were on our walk.
I also saw two new birds to me, the tiny little Sanderlings, and two Piping Plovers.
On this trip I learned that this is called ‘wrack’. It just looks like ocean junk but it provides an important environment for tiny organisms to thrive. Nothing is wasted in nature.
Social distancing was not a problem on this trip. We had the beach to ourselves, or nearly so. Walking and learning and enjoying the days.
Not everyone is up for getting out for the sunrise, including my hostess for my trip to Longboat Key. And that was fine with me because I’m pretty sure that only another photographer would put up with my early morning shenanigans. I was sure that since I was on a skinny little slip of land with beaches on the east side, that finding a place to view said sunrise would be a no-brainer. But evidently Holmes Beach is more of a town than a beach, and even though I was beginning to see some color in the sky I couldn’t find a place to pull over. I was sure I was too late period, and then I saw an arrow pointing me to Anna Maria City Pier. It was right on the water, and with parking right there too. In just a minute or so I was finally able to see the sunrise, and it was worth all the angst.
And always remember to check to see what’s going on behind you…
I will be among the missing for a day or three while I catch up with an old friend in a perfectly delightful setting. This is new territory for me and I’ll be taking lots of pictures, but I didn’t bring my laptop so for now I’ll just pass along an iPhone photo from our walk on the beach. My young self would never have imagined that Maddie and I would be spending this day in this place all these years later, but here we are, and how lucky we are to be here.
Sping Bayou is a small park with a lovely lake in a older, upscale neighborhood in Tarpon Springs. I imagine it’s a rather quiet place on any other day than yesterday, because it was the Greek Orthodox celebration called the Epiphany, and it’s cause for quite a celebration in this proud Greek town. In fact this was the 115th celebration, and in this year of COVID it was a drastically scaled down event. It was reported that only half of the 800 parishioner passes to view the event had been handed out, so as my first time to view it gave me a better view than normal since my son had passes for us to attend. We didn’t attend the four hour mass to start the day, and the procession from the church to the park happened more quickly than usual, so we found ourselves in the midst of what is the main event of the day earlier than most of us expected. Each year a cross is blessed and thrown into the water, and this year there were 55 16-18 year old boys of the parish who dove into the water to try to retrieve the cross and bring honor to their families.
As you see in the feature photo, we arrived to see the arches where the divers would pass under to take their places on the dock. They would first jump into the water and swim to the waiting boats, and from there they would dive in and try to retrieve the cross as it was tossed. As you see below, safety was a big concern with a rescue boat and divers in full scuba gear in the water to keep the boys safe.
The police presence was felt, but they were mostly giving directions, and as you see there were mounted police of every description there to help.
Soon we saw the boys in their white tee shirts walking under the golden cross to take their places.
The priest blessed the cross, blessed the water, and asked God to protect us all during this time of COVID.
And then came the moment for the boys to jump into the water and swim to the boats to be ready to try to be the lucky one to retrieve the cross.
As they all kept jumping in I understood the need for the drivers to be there, but they safely made it into the boats and soon it was time. I concentrated on the priest to try to catch the moment when he threw the cross, but I was a second too soon. My son had told me that there would be a release of a dove, which I also managed to miss.
Here they all are, swimming for the cross, and the moment that I first saw that someone had come up with it. It only took a few seconds.
Now wrapped in towels the boys hoisted the winner onto their shoulders and paraded him back to the church while the last of the boys were still climbing the ladder out of the water. This year there were no concessionaires there to tempt us with their great Greek food. Not so much of a festival atmosphere. But the tradition was respected, and if the prayers are answered the celebration will continue en force next year.
I’ve spent too much time sitting lately. That’s what happens when I find a binge-worthy show, and I have. New Tricks, an older British show about three older cops brought out of retirement to solve cold cases. Quirky and fun, I’ll be sorry to finish the series.
So with no particular destination except the vague notion that since it’s been cold lately then the manatees should be hanging out in our spring-fed, 72 degree year round, waters. So I headed to Linda Pederson Park, by way of Aripeka, and found this cute little historic site what heaven knows how many times I’ve driven past over the last few years. But usually in the dark.
Then it was on to my destination of the three story tower at the park where I did have a nice view of several manatees, but not the family groups that I usually see. I may never have been there on a weekend before because I’ve never noticed so many fishermen lining the banks, and I feared for the manatees but their usual nemesis is boat propellers.
The big surprise was a small bird flying past me as I stood at the top of the tower. I had just enough time to swing my camera up and start shooting because I realized that it was a belted kingfisher and they are rare to see. Not a great image but heck, I’ll take it.
After that it was just the scenery at the park and the birds across the street at Jenkin’s Creek that kept me amused. The park has a paddle trail with a kayak launch area and a sign that says it’s a little over a mile to paddle to Bayport.
For a day that started out at 36 degrees it was certainly a wonderful day. Florida’s winter weather is a glorious thing…