Tonight’s sunset helped out with the color scheme…
Received this fitting gift from a friend. What a wonderful way to wrap up a warm, sunny day!
I may have been a touch dramatic about the chill in the air this morning (according to my good friend Alyssa). In my defense, it was only 54 degrees at 10:30am!
Thankfully, as the day progressed the sun came out and the mercury rose. By midafternoon it was in the upper 60s and the beach beckoned.
The best part of a cool day on the coast? I pretty much had the place to myself!
Plant It and They Will Come
Since it’s playoff season, I felt it was appropriate to borrow (and slightly alter) a phrase from the world of baseball. The saying rings true in my front yard. Shortly after moving in, I dug out my entire lawn and replaced it with a pollinator garden. I carefully selected native and other plants that would flower year-round.
The pretty pops of color not only look attractive but they attract dozens of species to my yard. This week I couldn’t help but notice a large bee buzzing around.
He was so busy devouring nectar that I was able to capture a few decent photos of this Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica). Two species of Xylocopa occur in Florida, thankfully identifying this one was easy because he was massive! The other species is quite small in comparison.
Their glossy bodies help differentiate them from Florida’s five species of bumblebees. The yellow dot on his forehead (see the first photo) indicates that this was a male, since females lack that distinctive feature.
Not sure this is the best selling point. Downsizing the font would be a quick fix.
On a related note, none of these pools actually use heaters, instead they rely solely on the sun. Which, while copious, will be no match for the chilly winter days ahead. (Yes, I went there and I stand by it – it DOES get cold down here sometimes!)
Nature’s Moving Picture Show
I took these photos within a 15 minute time span on my beach walk tonight. The sun put on a colorful dance with the clouds before slipping away. I do love living here!
Work of Art
This past spring I planted an American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in my yard. This native species is a boon to wildlife; the thick shrubbery provides protection from predators, the tiny flowers are a nectar source for pollinators, and the magenta fruits are favored by birds.
This afternoon my driveway provided me with evidence of the latter. It’s such a pretty color, makes me wonder if I could use the berries as a dye.
A vast school of something yummy must’ve been swimming along the coastline tonight because the birds were having a field day. I noted Black Skimmers, Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, and three species of terns working above the water while a Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and several Black-crowned Night-Herons were hunting from the jetty rocks.
I drove home from Ohio yesterday, putting in 17+ hours behind the wheel but it was worth it just to get home. My first impression was that my house weathered storm quite well, though it was too dark and I was too tired for a thorough inspection.
My plants took a beating but hopefully, with a little care, they will survive. I spent the day undoing my hurricane preparations, so very thankful that the storm damage was minor in my neighborhood. Acutely aware that so many others south of me were not as fortunate…
My recent trip up north took me through West Virginia. Borrowing a lyric from John Denver’s “Country Roads“, the welcome signs proclaimed West Virginia to be “Almost heaven.”
Crossing over the Ohio River into the Buckeye state the welcome sign greeted me with, “Find it here.” The slogans of the two neighboring states cracked me up. It seemed as though the northern state was dissing the southern one – while West Virginia was close to heaven, heaven could actually be found in Ohio!
After another restless night, I awoke this morning to some amazing news concerning my county: my friends who stayed in the area are all okay, initial assessments in St. Petersburg found minimal damage (trees and power lines down but no flooding from rain or storm surge), and my wonderful neighbors reached out this morning to let me know my little house survived unscathed.
Though the mandatory evacuation order was lifted at 9am, the county has asked people to stay off the roads while crews attend to repairs. I will remain in Ohio through the weekend.
As relieved as I am, I am keenly aware that the devastation suffered by the communities a few hours to the south could have been mine. I am researching the best ways I can assist in the recovery efforts.