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Bok Tower Gardens June 25, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
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Early May, we drove across state to Bok Tower Gardens, a national historic landmark in Lake Wales.

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Established in 1929 by Edward W. Bok as a gift to the American people, the 50-acre garden was designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.

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The acres include ferns, palms, oaks, pine, flowering foliage, fountains, and wide expanses of manicured lawns.

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This flower waved at us from its shady perch . . .

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This plant’s radiant spikes caught our attention . . .

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Here’s some perspective on the size of its spikes . . .

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In the midst of the greenery stands the 205-foot-tall marble and coquina Singing Tower.

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Each day, a carilloner climbs into the tower to present a concert on the 60-bell carillon.

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The bells range in size from 22,000 pounds to 12 pounds.

After the tower’s construction, the bells got lifted into position through an opening now filled with this sundial.

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The grounds include a Visitor Center and Museum with changing art exhibits and a 9-minute introductory video about the Tower and the Gardens ~> an air-conditioned oasis on the HOT day we visited.

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The gardens are quiet, peaceful, and contemplative, especially when the carillon’s peals ring out from the Singing Tower.

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The site also includes Pinewood Estate and Gardens ~ a one-of-a-kind 1930’s Mediterranean style home surrounded by rolling hills and crowds of blooms.

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Wandering a remote path near Pinewood Estate, we found a baby scrub jay out of its nest.

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After giving it water and building a lean-to to shield it from the sun, we returned to the 20-room mansion to alert a director ~ she hoped to find someone knowledgeable enough to save the baby bird.

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Also on site ~ a Gift Shop, a Plant Shop, and the Blue Palmetto Cafe.

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After admiring the sights and sounds while walking 2-3 miles around and around the grounds with the blazing sun beating down, we climbed into our air-conditioned chariot for the ride home.

Aah . . . that’s better!

And now a few quotes for the Three Quote Challenge (thanks, Sylvia!):

* The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~ Alfred Austin

* My family lived off the land; summer evening meals featured baked stuffed tomatoes, potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh shelled peas and homemade ice cream with strawberries from our garden. With no air conditioning, the cool porch was the center of our universe after the scorching days. ~ David Mixner

* If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you want to play along, consider yourself nominated.  Then swing by Another Day in Paradise to see how many rules I failed to follow.

3 Pelicans & A Spoonbill May 5, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Humor, Nature.
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A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican?

~ Dixon Lanier Merritt

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Like other snowbirds, pelicans flock to the region during season to commune on our lagoon.

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The resident snappy dressers, Roseate Spoonbills, happily share space with their snack happy northern cousins.

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As they glide across the mirrored surface of lakes, ponds, and lagoons, well-pouched pelicans scan for fish, dipping nets at the ready.

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Snatching fish in shallow stocked ponds is a *SNAP* for these sushi loving birds.

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As each fish gets scooped up and swallowed down, a resounding *SNAP* from the pelican’s pouch echoes across and around the pond.

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With every snatched snack, these voracious visitors smack their lips, keeping count in song:

100 tasty fish in the lake
100 tasty fish
I grab one out
And “SNAP* it about
99 tasty fish in the lake

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Spoonbills, in contrast, are less obvious in appetite as they silently sweep, swirl, and sift through silt at water’s edge:

The roseate spoonbill spends a lot of its time in shallow water feeding. It sweeps its open bill from side to side in the water to sift up food like small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snails and insects. It has touch receptors in its bill that help it feel its prey. Like the flamingo, the roseate spoonbill’s pink color comes from the food it eats. Some of the crustaceans it eats feed on algae that give the spoonbill’s feathers their rosy pink color. 

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Spoonbills don’t sing silly fish songs . . . but they do practice Tai Chi and Yoga.


A good after-meal S~T~R~E~T~C~H aids digestion.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Hues of Green and Blue December 26, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Art & Photography, Humor, Nature.
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Florida has been our home for the past 6 years.


We appreciate its sunshine, warm sand, and gorgeous birds.



We enjoy the greens and blues of its tropical landscape, from bay . . .

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To beach . . .


We admire its palette even when its greens are in need of a trim.

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Due to decks and docks succumbing to climbing vegetation.

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In its preserves, waterways mirror the blue expanse of sky.

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As grasses whistle and sing while dancing in the afternoon breeze.

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Swaying palms reach majestic heights.

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Offering welcome shade from summer’s sweltering sun.


But all is not green and blue.  Shades of pink proliferate.


Along with the occasional burst of red.

santa on the beach

Aah . . . that’s better!

What colors predominate in your daily vistas?

In Tune With No Time February 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Fun & Games, Nature, Poetry.
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Tigger2bSwift swallows arrived one morning
Intent on breakfast

With quick dips and swift soars
They swallowed prey

Tigger craned his neck
To and fro
Watching swallows come and go
Diving, diving, high to low

Quick turns
No rhythm, no rhyme

Swift swallows flying
In tune with No Time

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever watched a cloud of Swifts or Swallows engaged in an aerial feeding frenzy?

Dizzying, isn’t it?

You Can Call Me “Ray” October 1, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Exercise & Fitness, Nature.
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We went for a walk on the beach yesterday, enjoying the salty air, abundant sunshine, and turquoise seas.


I snapped a few shots of beach cottages.


Perched “high” on the dunes . . . a full two feet above sea level.


We skirted around most of the birds as we marched along the sand.


And made the acquaintance of a few really brave ones.


Then a fever of rays caught our eyes in the crest of a wave.


We followed them up the beach stopping every few feet to snap another shot.


Despite taking two dozen photos of the group, I didn’t get a good enough photo to determine what type of stingrays we’d seen.


That’s OK . . . we’ll just say we watched rays in the waves under the rays of the sun and be done with it.


I’m certain the rays weren’t manta rays given their diminutive stature.


Despite what happened to Steve Irwin, stingrays do not attack humans . . . as a general rule.  Stings do occur if a ray is provoked or accidentally stepped on.

To avoid stepping on stingrays buried in shallow water, do the Stingray Shuffle.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Losing Focus . . . Gaining Clarity May 4, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
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Often, when we lose focus, we gain clarity . . .

The extraneous disappears, the essential remains . . . 

Impressions created with broad brush oft times reveal the real . . .

Quote: A quiet mind, like the surface of a still pond, provides a more accurate reflection.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Unfocused (WP Prompt)

Can You Spot The Strange~Her? April 28, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Art & Photography, Humor.
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Something in this picture is all WRONG!
      One member of this flock does NOT belong

An intruder has infiltrated its rank and file
          Camouflaged in a pink shirt and a wide smile

Look closely . . . see if you can spot the strange~her

And remind her to let “birds of a feather” flock together 

 Gators too . . .

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Together (WP Prompt) * Sarasota Jungle Gardens * Pretty in Pink

Double Your Pleasure ~ Two Subjects April 13, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Art & Photography, Blogs & Blogging.
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Birds . . . and beach:

Beach . . . and bird:

Have you heard?

“Bird” is the word . . .

Watch out!

The early bird catches the “ear worm” . . .

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Two Subjects (WP Prompt)

Treasures of Wildlife October 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Art & Photography, Nature, Poetry.
Tags: , , , ,

The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you. 
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

The lazy lizard
lounges in Shamrock Park, watched
by all, seen by none

All good things are wild and free. ~ Henry David Thoreau

White under-belly
exposed, the turtle heads to
its watery grave

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.
~ Claude Monet

Coyotes roam through
fisherman’s village, searching
for tasty morsels

The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. ~ Zeno

Great Blue Heron stands
in meditative pose, wings
outstretched in prayer

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. ~ Rachel Carson

Heads bobbing in time,
dancing deck lizards groove to  
that 70’s sound

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. 
~ Albert Einstein

Green dreams shatter as
drought-stricken dying palms wave
at the passing clouds

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come. 
~ Chinese Proverb

Two swans on Swan Lake
swim with beauty, style, and grace ~
we stand on the shore

In the wilderness is the preservation of the world. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Displaced by torrents
of water, homeless hornets
regroup and rebuild

Let nature be your teacher. ~ William Wordsworth

Otters chittering
in Spoonbill Landings’ lagoon
join the birds’ chorus

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. ~ Martin Buber

Perico Island
offers a sanctuary
for our feathered friends

Keep your sense of proportion by regularly, preferably daily, visiting the  natural world. ~ Catlin Matthews

Masked bandits at night
Fearlessly approach our door
Raccoons amuse me

We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understanding and our hearts. ~ William Hazlitt

Sailing through the air
Graceful in their awkwardness
Pelicans abound

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. ~ John Muir

Children toss reptile
into on-coming traffic. 
Snake shall breathe no more.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~ William Shakespeare

Frozen in my tracks
I meet the predator’s gaze
Bored, the hawk flies off

We do not inherit the Land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~ Native American Proverb

Forlorn foghorn cries
Fish splash, breaking the surface
Crickets harmonize

Each moment of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beach Bums October 23, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Nature, Poetry, Word Play.
Tags: , , , ,

The gull swooped down, on a collision course with the rocks. 

At the last moment, it swerved . . . laughing at my wasted concern.

flying, soaring
laughing, crying, calling
dipping, swooping, hunting, searching

Scavengers at the beach


Artwork by Barbara Hines . . . available at Island Gallery West            


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