Chromatic

IMG_6525

Shell Interior, Myakka River State Park, Sarasota, Florida December 2019

Over 300 native species of freshwater mussels and clams have been documented in the US. Of those, 200 are now either endangered or extinct. All of Florida’s 60 native species are protected to a degree; some are completely off-limits while others have harvest limits of 10 per person per day. The Florida Shiny Spike Mussel (Elliptio buckleyi) falls in the latter category.

There were many of these shells scattered along the banks of the Myakka River during my visit last month. Apparently, the park’s Limpkins find them quite tasty (and more prevalent) than their usual snail fare. I was particularly enamored with the rich, coppery iridescence on the interior of the shells. In case you were wondering, the elliptical shape of the shell is reflected in the Genus name, Elliptio.

Wintery Skies

IMG_6445 (1)

Treasure Island Afternoon, Florida January 2020

Every once in awhile the weather decides to remind Floridians, that yes, winter is a season and yes, winter is cold (full disclosure: cold down here means anything under 60 degrees).

As these “seasonal disturbances” blow through and interrupt our sunshine state of mind they create some rather striking designs in the firmament. And though I have to put on extra clothing for my afternoon ramble, I really have nothing to complain about. After all, I’m still living near the beach!

Still a Chance

IMG_6391

Todd Snider, Centro Asturiano de Tampa, Tampa, Florida January 2020

I recently had the Good Fortune* to win tickets to see one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Todd Snider. I was introduced to TS when he opened for John Prine in Tucson over a dozen years ago and immediately fell in love with his laid-back vibe (he’s often barefoot on stage) and his self-deprecating lyrics. The trick is, Todd is an optical illusion. He comes off as a simple, stoner dude but his words carry the sharp bite of a keen intellect that sees through bullshit.

I’ve caught a handful of shows over the years but it had been five years since my last one. So I was over the moon to get this opportunity (especially since it was on my birthday weekend). TS didn’t disappoint! In between songs he wove in stories from his life as a traveling troubadour: which often involved late nights, a bit of trouble, and a cast of unruly characters (many of them fellow musicians – looking at you, Jerry Jeff Walker).

I highly recommend catching a show when he comes your way!

*Another excellent TS song.

 

Sunset Salutation

Every Sunday afternoon a drum circle forms on the beach near me. I’m not sure how  or when it started but it is now a local tradition where everyone is welcome. Don’t have a drum? Use a tin can, old pot, or five gallon bucket. Can’t play a percussion instrument but still want to participate? Go ahead and hula hoop, belly dance, juggle, blow bubbles, or just move with the flow of the music.

Just want to relax and watch? Bring a blanket or chair and your favorite beverage. Really, anything goes. The circle ebbs and flows for the two hours leading up to the main event. As the sun dips into the water everyone turns to the west and cheers. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of week. Yet another reason why I really like it here!

 

 

ID-10-T Problem

Anyone who spends time trying to capture moments in nature knows that things do not always go as planned. Weather and uncooperative subjects often pose challenges and then there’s just plain old photographer error.

My recent encounter with a tiny octopus was one such frustrating example. After gently tossing it out into the surf I videoed its progress as it swam away. Or, at least, I thought I did.

Apparently, in my excitement I neglected to press that one important button (same button for start/stop). Instead, I captured my reaction to my epic fail, which I am sharing for your enjoyment (you’re not laughing at me, you’re laughing with me). As they say in the computer industry, it was an ID-10-T problem (remove the hyphens, you’ll get it).

Shell No!

Since moving to the Gulf Coast of Florida I’ve been out on the beach every day. My flips come off as soon as I hit the sand and I enjoy meandering along the wrack line, looking for whatever treasures the ocean may have left for me.

I am seldom disappointed, there seems to be no end to the fun discoveries. This recent find, made quite an impression (literally – on the bottom of my foot).  The Florida Spiny Jewelbox (Arcinella cornuta) is an aptly named mollusk, at least as far as the spines go (as for the part about it resembling a jewelry box – I don’t see it, but whatever).

Thankfully, they don’t get much larger than 1 1/2 inches but still, stepping on one is definitely an eye-opening experience!

In Honor of…

National Squirrel Appreciation Day I present some of my favorite photos of these furry bundles of energy.

I have a few shots that deserve extra special attention, like this series I snapped in 2010 of a Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel squeezing into his hole in the high country of New Mexico (someone had been preparing for a long winter):

Or this one in Portland, Oregon back in 2012 who was clearly laughing at my attempt to photograph it:

IMG_7988

And my all time favorite, from Rocky Mountain National Park in 2010:

Crazy Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis)

Love them or despise them, you have to admit, they are characters!

High Flyers

As per usual, I spent a few hours on the beach yesterday afternoon. The beach was crowded with people attending the Treasure Island Kite Festival. It was a perfect day for it – warm, sunny, and breezy. The festival continues today and while the breeze is still present the temperatures have dropped and the sun is obscured by clouds which are due to drop rain any minute now.

While I enjoy the pretty colors and interesting designs, I confess I’ve never really been all that into kites. That said, I was mesmerized by the synchronized kite flying team.