Portraits

This afternoon I finally took the opportunity to tour the 31 acre Largo Central Park Nature Preserve. And boy, am I glad I did as there was an impressive array of wildlife on display.

They were unusually tolerant of my presence, allowing me to capture some nice closeups. I presume they are used to people, not only those wandering the preserve but the golfers on the course adjacent.

I will certainly be back for another visit!

Top to bottom, left to right: Snowy Egret, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron, American White Ibis, Limpkin, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, American Alligator, Green Heron.

The ‘Christmas Display’

Last night friends and I toured this 1/2 acre, light-filled property in the Oakdale neighborhood just south of downtown St. Pete. Ted Kresge and his wife (along with several dedicated volunteers) decorate their yard with lights, tv screens, an extensive model train display, and dozens of animatronics.

As we wandered the pathways I was distracted by the logistics of it all. According to their signage, they use roughly half a million lights which are connected to three electric meters that incur a bill close to $5000 for the month and half long event. This is the 45th year for the extravaganza and what a labor of love it is!

When Ted took a break from playing the organ he explained to us that he also built by hand all the extensive canals, ponds, fountains, and waterfalls that twine throughout his front yard. My dad, who was born and raised in the Sonoran Desert, is also fond of creating water features – the house he built when I was a child had a waterfall inside and a large pond outside while their current property has at least four ponds.

Story of My Life

To commemorate the season, I started putting up holiday decorations shortly after the beginning of the month. As you might imagine about the woman who has moved five times in the past five years, I didn’t have very many items.

So, a couple weeks back when I saw these exterior lights on sale I decided they’d be perfect for my front porch. What I neglected to remember at the time was that I do not have an outside outlet on said porch.

Well, the solution seemed easy enough: turn off the breaker, open up the outlet under the living room window, drill through the block wall, connect a few wires, install an exterior receptacle, and flip the breaker back on. Piece of cake, right? (Insert eye roll here.)

After two trips to the home improvement store (and a few choice words), I finally hung and turned on my lights. As is the case so many times in my life, things may not be easy but I do manage to persevere in the end.

Lucky Nut?

I came across this Lucky Nut, Thevetia peruviana, while touring the holiday light display at the Florida Botanical Gardens earlier this week. While I was certainly intrigued by the large nut’s unique shape, I could find no information about what makes it lucky.

In fact, to use a quote from my all-time favorite movie, The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” To the best of my knowledge, every part of this oleander relative is completely unlucky since it is toxic.

Moonflower

Moonflower (Ipomoea alba) is a unique member of the morning glory family in that it blooms at night. The white flowers are about 5 inches across and they almost seem to glow in the moonlight. That large size combined with their appealing aroma helps attract nocturnal pollinators.

Native to Florida the vine also sports showy, heart-shaped leaves. I’d love to have one in my yard but I don’t have anywhere for it to grow, they need support and can reach 40′ in length. The flower I photographed was on a vine that was at least that long since it had grown up and over a telephone pole. What a beaut!

Sea Grapes

Discovered this chunk of green alga on my beach a couple weeks back. Its diminutive size and odd shapes warranted a photo, if only so I could identify it. That process took longer than it should have but, as usual, I learned something new.

Meet the Sea Grape (Caulerpa racemosa), an edible seaweed that favors shallow seas around the world. In some areas it is considered invasive, though this is the first time I’ve encountered it around here.

Since they are nutrient rich I suppose we should all eat up!