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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.

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Monkey business…

The newest little orangutan at the zoo was still being carefully protected by his mother, but the other young ones were carrying on like little monkeys! Two of them were simply a rolling ball of orange fur with various body parts becoming visible here and there.

Not that they made it easy to get pictures since they were under their rope basket, in the shadows, and I had to shoot with the zoom extended to the max to hopefully catch them between all the obstacles in the way. Not the least of which were the crowds of people watching, and ooing, and laughing as one and then the other got the upper hand. I wore my mask for the entire time I was at the zoo, even when I technically didn’t need to. But it seemed like a good idea to me.

I took over 600 pictures and half of them were too dark and/or out of focus to even think about keeping. But some made me smile anyhow, especially the ones where I wasn’t sure which body part belonged to which one of them.

Here’s hoping you like orangutans because there are a few more of these posts to come.

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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!

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On the wild(er) side…

 

If you are ever at the intersection of Welland Road and Roach Road on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive then look to your right and the feature photo may be the view you will see.

12-28apopkaintersectionNo, the feature photo was not taken on a kayak trip, thank Heaven!  If it had been I’m not sure what exactly would have happened next.  But I wouldn’t bet money against me getting flustered enough to tip over the kayak and… well, I’m not sure what would happen next but I never want to find out.  I’m told that they don’t see kayaks as dinner, but surely they smell warm flesh, and fear!

12-29alligator1

How delightful to have flowers in your alligator shots…12-29alligator212-29alligator3Do you see the smirk on their faces?  The little upturn at the end of their smile?  I don’t think they are worried about much of anything.  What do they eat?  And how often?  After all, they are huge, and healthy looking.  And they really weren’t far away at all, but somehow standing on the shore of an inlet with other people gives a sense of security.  As long as I think I could outrun at least one of them.12-29alligator4reflect

I frequently forget to notice reflections when I’m taking pictures.  But I did notice this one, two alligators for the price of one.12-29alligator-boyAnd then there was this boy, so sure that he had everything under control.  As we drove into my son’s development once there were kids on bikes riding on the road and an alligator sunning itself on the far shore of a retention pond.  The idea that I was seeing kids and an alligator in my field of vision all at once made a huge impression on me.  This kid told me that he had once been three feet away from an alligator.  And that’s exactly the sort of thing to give me nightmares…

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Brooker Creek Preserve…

Today was a day like many other days.  It was day one of my new resolve to eat better and get more exercise.  I’ve been there before, but I’m always sure that this time it will stick.  So I decided to walk this morning and walked out the door to very pretty skies.10-5morningsky110-5morningpalm

The next stop for the day was Brooker Creek Preserve.  I’d never been before and I expected to walk the bird trail and take lots of bird pictures, but that’s not what happened.10-5fromthebridgeThe view from the bridge was lovely, but there were no birds to be seen and I was disappointed to start with.  But I quickly discovered that this is exactly the place to go to for a nature adventure with kids.  I was especially impressed with the area set up for the kids to have some hands-on interactions with nature.  They could pet the pelts of some of the animals they have probably seen in the area.10-5pelts

And get to match the scat (that’s poop in layman’s terms) to the animal that created it.10-5scat

Or hold a caterpillar, which will become a monarch butterfly.10-5caterpillars

Or make a caterpillar craft…10-5caterpillars2

And a slideshow was playing up on the wall and one of the images caught my attention.  I’ve seen these lichen many times here in Florida but didn’t appreciate what I was seeing.  I liked them because there is sometimes a ‘face’ in the pattern on the bark.10-5lichen

And in the butterfly tent the kids were given q-tips that they could dip in fruit juice to attract the butterflies.  This little cutie’s name is Charlotte and she totally made my day!10-5cutie

Half the fun of being out with the camera is that you never know what the day will bring, but it’s always fun.

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Bragging rights…

It was a sunset soccer game and our team won!9-24scoreboard

Here’s the kick for the first goal…9-24theshot9-24Goal#1

See, the ball is in the net (in the corner by his hand), I totally missed that until my daughter pointed it out.

And more soccer moments…9-24theshot29-24theshot39-24theshot4

I probably don’t have to mention that #26 is my grandson.  And as long as I’m bragging I might also mention that he scored the only two goals of the game.  Good job Thomas!