Archive for ‘Observations’

Relaxing View

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Gulf of Mexico, Treasure Island, Florida March 2020

I don’t know about you but I’m happy to close the door on March. Here’s hoping that April is kinder to us all. Stay safe and healthy, my friends!

Note: While our beaches closed to the public ten days ago, they are allowing local residents access to the beach with one important caveat, we must stay on the wet sand. As a very nice officer explained to me, the ocean is not closed so anything that the water touches is fair game. Just as long as I observe social distancing rules.

Unexpectedly Chromatic

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Peacock Body

I noticed a sign touting the significance of a spot across Boca Ciega Bay from me back in December but it wasn’t until this week that I finally explored it. While most people visit St. Petersburg’s Jungle Prada Park for the boat ramp, the small park is packed with history. It is purportedly the landing place of the Spanish Narváez expedition of 1528 and it protects the majority of a Tocobaga shell mound (the other section is owned by the Anderson family).

For my fellow history buffs: The Pánfilo de Narváez expedition left Spain in 1527 with the intent of establishing Spanish forts along the Florida Gulf Coast. To say it was ill-fated is an understatement. They lost two ships in a hurricane near Cuba and further storms forced them to land along Boca Ciega Bay.

Dispirited, Narváez declared the area most unsuitable for settlement (Ha, tell that to the 4.5 million people currently living here!) and pushed on, determined to cross the gulf over to Mexico. That attempt killed all but 80 (including Narváez), the remaining survivors were swept onto Galveston Island.

We know this because, amazingly, there were four men who made the trek on foot through Texas (and possibly into New Mexico and Arizona) before finally reaching Mexico City in 1537. The leader of that group, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, later wrote about his experience as the first European to travel that part of North America. His account is exceptional in that he focused on the native peoples and their customs, a boon to anthropologists and archaeologists.

I had hoped to take a guided tour of the private portion of the mound, however it was understandably closed due to COVID-19 concerns. I did follow a handsome fellow around for awhile, though for the life of me, I can’t figure out what peacocks are doing there! I enjoyed the show though.

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He’s Handsome and He Knows It!

 

 

Bright Spots

I stumbled across these treasures at two different parks this past week. The little decorated rock was stuck in the mud. A small splash of blue caught my eye, so I reached over and dug it out. After a quick wipe, I was pleasantly surprised by my find. I slid it in my pocket, and after a thorough cleaning, it now sits on my coffee table, offering a spot of cheer. I’ll return it to the wild someday so it can continue on its journey.

The second I discovered while getting lost in the woods. I had followed a bird call off trail and ended up in a fairly derelict corner of the park. As I waited for my elusive quarry to return (it didn’t), I spotted this graffiti. I don’t condone the hobby but I appreciate the craftsmanship, and in this case, the message.

Thank you to the artists and creatives who leave bits of magic in this world for us to find. These bright spots help in trying times…

Final Finale

Well, it finally happened (some say it was long overdue) the beaches here in my part of Florida will close tonight at midnight. I spent my last afternoon walking on the white sand and stayed for my last beach sunset (for the time being).

The closure will be nearly impossible for authorities to enforce but I don’t intend to be one of the rule breakers, no matter how much I’ll miss my beach. There are other outdoor places on my list to visit. And now, I will have plenty of time to explore them since restaurants are also closing (or switching to takeout only).

I am fortunate in that I have no debt, some savings, and I live simply – so I am not as anxious as others. And I will be spending more time in nature which has a way of soothing my worries. I hope we all stay healthy and safe during this challenging time!

Shark!

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Shark Boat, Treasure Island, Florida March 2020

My favorite spot for happy hour overlooks John’s Pass, a channel that connects the Gulf of Mexico and Boca Ciega Bay. This place earned top billing in my book because not only are their prices reasonable and I can sit outside to watch the sunset but there is a pod of dolphins that cruises the channel. I guess you could say we’re all regulars here.

Last week was the first time I’ve seen a shark in these waters. Let’s hope it stays that way!

Bees of Spring

During my afternoon stroll at a nearby park I noticed a good many bees buzzing around this tree. My first thought was that perhaps there was an active hive inside. Upon closer inspection, I found instead that they were busy slurping up sap from holes in the trunk.

I presume the holes were drilled by a very efficient sapsucker, though I did not see one in the vicinity. Ever curious, I tried the fluid myself. I was not impressed by it, not surprisingly, it was primarily a tannic flavor.

I Have Seen the Chicken

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Chick with Her Chicken in the Bar, Treasure Island, Florida March 2020

I knew it was time to head home when I spotted this girl and her pet chicken in the local pub Saturday night. At first, I thought perhaps I’d had too much to drink and was merely seeing strange things (kind of like in the old Tom Waits song, “The Piano Has Been Drinking” – though I prefer the version by Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, give it a listen below). But nope, it wasn’t a weird vision, it was an actual live chicken. In the bar. Yep, time for me to go!

Night at the Dalí Museum

Earlier this week, after a tedious day of running errands, I decided to treat myself to some culture. I headed downtown to the Dalí Museum, which stays open late on Thursday evenings for a reduced price.

While I’m by no means an art aficionado, I am curious and certainly admire anyone’s ability to create. The Dalí exhibition I visited in Vienna after graduating from college left quite a lasting impression on me (and no, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was). So, I was eager to explore this Dalí collection, the second largest in the world.

The museum presented his art in chronological order: from his early impressionist works, to his most well-known Surrealist ones, to his later exploration of religion and science in his Nuclear Mysticism phase.

I was entranced by the concept behind one of his recurring themes, the melting clock. As our tour guide explained, he depicted it that way since you can’t stop or hold onto time, it just slips (or melts) away.

An astute observation, which challenges me to think about what I’m doing with my time. I’m pretty content with most of my decisions overall, but it’s still good to stop and reconsider once in awhile. Never know where wisdom is going spring from, thank you Dalí!

 

03-13-2020 Update: A Dalí print, Purgatory Canto 24, was recently discovered at a thrift shop in North Carolina and sold for $1200. It makes me happy that the artwork was recognized and not accidentally cast aside.