Drive South

Took a little road trip this past week, no set schedule, just wanted to getaway for a bit. So, to paraphrase the John Hiatt song, we hopped in the car and Drove South.

We toured Sanibel Island in the afternoon before catching a stunning sunset at the historic Naples Fishing Pier. It was such a lovely stroll that it made me wish there was one like that up here on Treasure Island.

Headed a bit further down the peninsula the next morning to explore the western side of the Everglades (I’d neglected this region during my visit back in 2019). We had the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk pretty much to ourselves. Well, there was some wildlife out there, not as much as I’d hoped but still a good time.

Afterwards we decided to check out Chokoloskee Island, (part of the infamous Ten Thousand Islands). Talk about a tiny fishing village at the end of the world! We stopped off for some refreshment at the Smallwood Store and were tempted by the Guava Cheese Pie. I’d never heard of it before but it was delicious, kind of like Key Lime Pie but less tart.

While sitting on the dock enjoying the view we met a new friend, a juvenile Brown Watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota). I kept a close eye on it while it slithered around (hey, in flip-flops my toes probably looked quite yummy).

The return trip took us through Everglades City, the Stone Crab Capital of the World. I’ve heard about this tasty treat since moving here so where better to actually try some? The meat was moist and decadent (and the claws were so colorful). Also tried their conch fritters, and they were the best I’ve ever eaten.

It was a long drive home but well worth it!

Birds on the Block

Stopped at a tiny pocket park before work this afternoon. While the neighborhood kids played on the swings I was surprised by some feathery friends: Great Egret in breeding plumage, juvenile Wood Stork, and a Muscovy Duck with two of her ducklings.

This is one of many urban park spaces that provide for both people and wildlife in the St. Petersburg area. Interestingly, at the beginning of the month, the Trust for Public Land released its 2022 report and St. Petersburg is ranked number 14 in the nation. Pretty impressive!

Side note: Did you catch that the birds represent the various stages of life? From young to teenager to mature adult.

Goober Pea*

I recently removed some elderly hedges that were at the end of their life expectancy. After cutting down the five foot bushes I spent a couple days chopping and digging up the roots. I smoothed out the soil and covered my new planting bed with mulch while trying to decide what should go there.

This week, I walked out my front door and was greeted with a couple pops of green. My first thought was that somehow I missed a few persistent roots. Upon closer inspection I discovered that I am now a peanut farmer.

I already know who the culprits are, my noisy local flock of Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata). I don’t know anything about growing peanuts but I’m about to find out.

I figure if it’s good enough for a couple of our former Presidents (Jefferson and Carter) then it’s good enough for me! If all goes well, in four months the jays should get a 4000% return on their investment.

*Brought from Africa during the slave trade these legumes were originally called goober peas (derived from nguba, a Congolese word).