adventure, blessings, family, Florida landmarks, following the rules, friends, fun, kids, leap of faith, making memories, perseverance, photography, Traditions

Epiphany 2021…

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.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, family, Florida wildlife, fun, life, making memories, moments, perseverance, photography, unintended images

Sushi for brunch…

No, sushi wasn’t on the menu at my son’s house yesterday, but it certainly was at Anclote Gulf park on the way home.

I think of them as the three amigos, the single great blue heron, egret, and little blue heron who are usually hanging around together and waiting for handouts from the fishermen. I took a couple of pictures and thought that that would be the end of my photo shoot, when suddenly there was a splash and the three of them took off for the section of beach behind me. I turned to discover that the great blue was first to the fisherman’s offering, and no one challenged him for it.

Another couple was on the pier with me and we wondered if he was going to be able to eat that thing, silly us.

The egret seemed to not be bothered by losing out on lunch.

And then, on the other side of the pier I saw this anhinga with another bit of sushi that it was preparing to eat. He had to catch his lunch all by himself, and then he swam around with it for a couple of minutes, managing to swim into the area of highest reflections from the afternoon sun. I couldn’t see him through my viewfinder but I kept shooting anyhow.

So much excitement for a quick stop for photos. But I was tired so I decided that it was time to head home.

blessings, Camping, connections, family, food, fun, go with the flow, Just do it, live and learn, making memories, moments, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography

Gingerbread houses…

The other day I read a Facebook post from a friend that featured a spectacular gingerbread house that someone had spent 3 weeks making. It was amazing, it really was, but I had the thought as I looked at the pictures that I hadn’t ever made a gingerbread house. But that’s before I found a box out front on my doorstep yesterday morning. My daughter said that when she saw a gingerbread kit and the ‘house’ was actually a camper she had to buy it for me. So I was tickled to see what this gift was, but totally intimidated to think that you were supposed to assemble it first and decorate it second. I knew enough about cake decorating from my job at Publix to know that that wasn’t going to work, but I figured that if I decorated the front first that the chances of actually assembling it without everything falling off was going to be slim to none. But I wanted to send my daughter a picture of the finished product so I took a deep breath and started in on it this morning. And as it progressed I was no less anxious about the actual construction.

As you see in the feature photo the camper did survive the construction process, much to my surprise. Actually using that little tube of icing did prove to be as frustrating as I expected it to be, but it stayed put when I assembled it and seemed to work pretty well as glue also. I’m not sure what made me turn Santa around and discover that he is on holiday, but I’m sure he’ll be visiting your houses very soon!

'scene' along the way, a second look, family, fun, grandchildren, life goes on, making memories, memories, perseverance, photography, simple things, special effects, technology

In the spirit…

Last Saturday night my friend and I spent a few hours driving around her neighborhood, guided by GPS and following the stops set out in a ‘menu’ of sorts. Each destination was a house that was participating in a friendly competition over who would have the best Christmas display.. What a fun way to spend an evening and see if we could dredge up some holiday spirit while we were at it. I’ve totally lost track of which houses belonged to the runners-up, but I to definitely remember which house I thought would win, and it did. But I’m saving it for last.

And the winner is…

Music was playing at many of the stops, and I heard that one stop was serving hot chocolate. But I loved the winning house because Dad was manning a snow machine that was mounted on this sleigh and kids were invited out of the cars to check it out. He kept up a friendly banter, and his young teenaged sons were also working the crowd and giving out Christmas cards. I loved that it was such a family event.

And while I was working on these pictures I ran out to check the mail and found a Christmas card from my granddaughter who lives in Munich, Germany. It’s written in German but translated for me by her. Yes, family is what it’s all about and we shared many Christmas experiences together in the past, and hopefully there will be more to come in the future also. Merry Christmas Kara, and to all of you too!

a second look, blessings, bucket list, connections, family, fun, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography

All in the family…

Exactly what makes a trip to ZooTampa most pleasant even when it’s hot outside is what can frustrate a person when they are taking pictures. The shade, so welcome in the summer, but so frustrating when the adorable young orangutans are playing so delightfully, only doing it when they are in deepest shade and/or facing away from you. These young ones are usually my favorite subjects, but of course on this trip I was totally infatuated with that new little one month old baby boy. He doesn’t even have a name yet, one of the keepers said that they will have a naming contest soon. It might have been a less enjoyable day had I not had that distraction because the other toddlers (?) were so hard to capture.

But even big babies still need their mommies now and then.

The two mothers were nursing their babies side by side when the bigger baby reached out, clearly interested in the little new comer.

Dear old dad wasn’t totally ignored, by me or by his little one.

Even granny got into the act, this according to another observer who did seem to be very informed about these orangutans. She knew their names, dates of birth, and their relationship with each other. The mom, I was told her name is Randy, brought the baby over and sat beside her mother for a while.

But mostly the day was about this new mother and child. I really couldn’t tell if I was getting the baby’s face, or if he’d be noticeable at all, so I just kept shooting. There is so much that is familiar in the interactions between these beautiful creatures. But I guess that shouldn’t surprise me since we share 97% of our DNA with them…

I do have to wonder though, what is she thinking?

'scene' along the way, family, friends, fun, Just do it, kids, life goes on, perseverance, photography

Happy Thanksgiving…

This year I’m especially thankful for family and friends to help us all survive this most unusual year. I’m also grateful to be on my way to solving the computer issues that have laid me low the last couple of weeks. I’m on a better, and definitely BIGGER, computer, but believe it or not I’m still needing more computer power to be fully up and running. That would be a crisis if not for the fact that this computer can be upgraded, 32 GB of memory are on the way as I type. Supposedly I can install it myself, but that remains to be seen. I have to thank my photography friends for the advice and technical help that’s gotten me this far.

After a weekend of taking pictures the ones that appealed to me today were the ones with people in them. People out enjoying the beautiful weather, people being together. It wasn’t too crowded, just enough to remind me what ‘normal’ feels like. And that was a good thing. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!