Colorful Surprise

I was puttering in my friend’s backyard down in Bradenton last weekend when I was urgently summoned to his front yard. I wasn’t sure what to expect, maybe another stray cat to befriend? I took one glance at the bright colors and dashed back to grab my phone so I could get a couple photos.

Good thing I hustled because this boy was not a slowpoke. The Ameiva ameiva’s common name, Jungle Runner, is very well-deserved! Native to Central and South America (and parts of the Caribbean) this colorful lizard has made itself at home in parts of south Florida since the 1950s.

I have no way of knowing whether this handsome male was someone’s escaped pet or a part of the resident population’s expanding tribe. He didn’t stick around for long, quickly finding cover under weeds and detritus in the neighbor’s yard.

It was fairly easy to track his movements, as the standard anoles and other yard lizards all scurried out of his way. At 20 inches long he was 4-5 times their size, must’ve seemed like Godzilla to them!

Trash to Treasure

I found this top of a china cabinet out by the road a few months ago. It was solid oak and in decent shape (just missing a shelf and the cord for the light had been cut) but amazingly, the mirror and all the glass were still intact. I was instantly enamored with the unique, curved glass on the sides of the piece. So, I loaded it into my car and brought it home.

It sat in my carport gathering dust until I came across an oak plank the right size for the shelf. I cleaned, sanded, and painted the cabinet (using discounted “oops” paint). Then I rewired the lamp (using cord from a yard sale), added feet to give it a little height (harvested from a couch beside a dumpster), and switched out the knobs (from a thrift store). I cannot take credit for the hardest part, cutting the plank to match the curves of the cabinet. Thank you, Al, that was no mean feat!

I’m pretty darn pleased with how it turned out. Now comes the hard part, deciding what to put in there!

Slippery When Wet

When I arrived at Highlands Hammock State Park yesterday afternoon it was humid and 90 degrees. Not surprisingly, there weren’t a bunch of people out and about. It was muggy but I was excited to explore one of Florida’s oldest state parks.

There were about a dozen short trails to choose from so I decided to hike them all. Though, coming from the rugged terrain out west, I don’t really consider this flatland stuff to be hiking. As I strolled along I kept noticing pops of color in shades of red.

The biggest issue of the day was water. Some of the trails were flooded but it wasn’t deep or flowing, so I happily splashed along. By the time I was halfway through, I was glistening (women don’t perspire, right?). I was grateful for the cloud cover until it started to rain. Not just a gentle, soft drizzle but an actual downpour.

Thank goodness I brought my rain jacket! Darn shame I left it in my car, in the parking lot at the other end of the park. On the upside, I did have the entire place to myself for the rest of the afternoon. The downside? I was soaking wet and chilly (the storm had dropped the temperature into the 70s), and there was water in the lens of my camera (here’s hoping it dries out soon).

Regardless, I had a lovely time wandering through this special, protected area.