Monday, April 8, 2024

Eclipse Eclipsed

  I had an appointment at the local hospital today - spanking new and more like a spaceship inside than a place of healing and already too small, with all the population growth around here, when I saw a crowd of doctors and nurses outside, staring up into the bright blue Florida sky. Had they walked out, finding it all too much? No, I realised, they were trying to see the Eclipse, I don't think with much success. If you could see anything at all down here in Florida, it was just a sliver. "I think it did get a little bit darker", someone said, hopefully. Up north, it was a big event. My neighbour said her grandchildren in Ohio got the day off school. Probably because the school didn't want to be sued if the kids burned their eyes off. Of course we should have watched it from western New York and had the whole caboodle - except it would probably have been cloudy. 

   But never mind. Every day brings a different kind of beautiful sight in the sky. 

Florida Gulf Coast sunsets are famous but this was dawn. 

From our front garden

 And here is an actual sunset-from-the-beach (the greeting of which is a regular evening ritual for the neighbours). At this stage it may not look like much.

But after the sun went down the delicate colour spread all over the sky.

With some intriguing cloud formations. 

  It was quite the show and well worth waiting for. And you didn't have to faff around with special glasses.

  And here's another kind of show,  from the tree at the back (which we always thought was an orchid tree but which my plant recognition app bossily insists is a kind of ebony. That doesn't sound quite right, unless they're the same thing.)  We were convinced it had expired after two hurricanes and a drought in quick succession. A month ago it appeared as dead as a doornail. And now look at it. Just in time for Easter. 

We have had some blustery weather though. People choosing the wrong week to come down might have been a little disappointed with the Sunshine State.  But year-rounders, that exclusive club, love it when it's cool. Wind and rain? Bring it on! 

And here's another spectacular effect, closer to the ground this time. After a few windy days this is what happened to the poor beach.

Making walking along it something of an adventure. But these things do have a knack of straightening themselves out again. That's the wonders of nature for you. The north can have its Eclipse. We are managing fine.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Feathered (and other) Florida Friends

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

  Sad to report that our very own beached whale has, as expected, gone to his reward but not before hundreds of ghouls jammed the road down to Service Club beach to line the shore and watch. It was not something I wanted to do. But Service Club did have its brief moment of fame, the unfortunate whale (50 foot, 70 foot, depending on where you read about it) making page 2 of this morning's Wall Street Journal. 

But how about some more cheerful flora and fauna stories. The little clockwork sanderlings were in good spirits, if stationary for once.

And back in the garden someone was enjoying the orchid tree - or, as it is now, orchid bush. You may recall it fell down in Hurricane Ian but started to sprout again and now has some magnificent blooms, if an odd new shape.

Down the road in Maxine Barritt park the other morning it was too early for the alligators to start sunning themselves on the lake banks but the birds were at their familiar posts.

This anhinga, aka snakebird looked a little peeved. "No need ter gawp, I'm just dryin' me feathers."

Not sure what this chap was after but whatever it was, I didn't have any.

Meanwhile there was no doubt what someone else was hoping for. The beach fishermen here tend to get saddled with uninvited guests, waiting for a handout.

  And the other evening a tiny eastern screech owl was warbling from our oak tree (that one survived Hurricane Ian.) Sometimes I feel like telling the screech owls to give it a rest with their monotonous trilling all through the night but this time I didn't have the heart. He was so close you could almost touch him, oblivious to us, wrapped up in whatever his current enterprise was. Our once sleepy bit of Florida is getting more and more built up by the day, with tourist season in full swing, the roads more and more clogged, the drivers and cyclists ever crazier. But nice to know you can still get to go a little wild.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Florida Foodie Interlude

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida 

Goodness, but it's been a long time, for which I give no excuses, save that it was a very chilly January by Florida standards and I've been in hibernation. No frost exactly but cold nights and mornings and a few north winds. Neighbours who've been here many years say it's the coolest they've known it at this time of year. Year-rounders are happy to wear their scarves and woolly hats for a change but I'm still enough of a newcomer to pine for the warm weather we signed up for. Still no risk of having to shovel snow though. It's always worse somewhere else. 

  Meanwhile Shrove Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, has been and gone and I realised in conversation that "Pancake Day" doesn't mean much to Americans. My friends looked puzzled when I announced that hubby, ace American-style pancake maker, would this year be trying his hand at crepes. "That's nice" (with a veiled "so what?") was the slightly bemused comment.

And the crepes were indeed very nice. 

Note that the strawberries came from here in Florida - Plant City to be exact. I gather it's coming up to prime strawberry time and they'll be having a strawberry festival several months before Wimbledon. So it is really warmer than up north.

I couldn't resist adding another European delicacy to the mix - though not on the same day. Yes it was time to indulge in some British bangers again. 

Not quite the Full English breakfast (no baked beans, mushrooms, bacon or fried bread) but near enough. Thank you to the German butchers' - of all people - for providing them. It took me a long time to find bangers here in Florida after the sad demise of the British sausage shop in Buffalo but it's been well worthwhile. Now, however, it's Lent and I'll have to restrain myself. Or at least try.