Monthly Archives: March 2016

Spring Break 2016

Scroll down to see the rest of the fish!

You’ll have to scroll down to see the rest of the fish (too big to fit in this photo hahaha)

Spring break! Woooo!!! The week was a whirlwind tour of some of my favorite spots and things to do in southwest Florida (where I grew up).

Slow zone

Slow zone

Here you can see the water is amber colored (this is in the Caloosahatchee river)

Here you can see the water is amber colored (this is in the Caloosahatchee river which flows out of Lake Okeechobee) oh, and some dolphins!

Conveniently located bait shop

Conveniently located bait shop haha

'Tween Waters

‘Tween Waters

Osprey with a fish

Osprey with a fish

Toes in the sand

Toes in the sand

Lots of shells

Lots of shells

Beautiful beach!

Beautiful beach!

Little fiddler crabs

Little fiddler crabs

On Captiva

On Captiva

Another osprey

Another osprey

We spotted lots of dolphins in the river, estuary and Gulf

We spotted lots of dolphins in the river, estuary and Gulf

Out in the gulf they are even easier to spot!

Out in the gulf they are easy to spot!

Fish huts

Fish huts

Those structures are called fish huts, or fish shacks or fish cabins…The Department of Natural Resources, as the Florida state environmental agency was called in the mid 1980s, believed the structures were navigational hazards and destructive to sea grasses.  And they also believed that since they had no plumbing, the people using them as bunk houses were likely creating sanitation problems.  So the state started burning them down.  Locals who wanted to preserve the fish huts were able to debunk these concern, according to Gladys Schneider of Bokeelia.  She was hired as a consultant to compile the documentation needed to have the shanties declared historic.  So our fish huts are still with us and a number are listed on National Register of Historic Places. (source)

Fish hut

Fish hut

Pelican

Pelican

Pulling up to North Captiva

Pulling up to North Captiva (Gulf of Mexico)

North Captiva; a long but very thin island; only a hundred yards or so wide

North Captiva; a long but very thin island; only a hundred yards or so wide in places (that’s Pop walking to the estuary side of the island)

Chasing birds

Chasing birds

Royal Terns, Black Skimmers and other birds

Royal Terns, Black Skimmers and other birds

King's Crown shell

King’s Crown shell

The water isn't as clear in the estuary as on the Gulf side but it is one of my favorite types of habitats to explore

The water isn’t as clear in the estuary as on the Gulf side but it is one of my favorite types of habitats to explore

There are many live shells in the estuary

There are many live shells in the estuary

Live shells on the gulf side too! This is a large horse conch

Live shells on the gulf side too! This is a large horse conch

Mmm looks yummy (haha; we threw it back)

Mmm looks yummy (haha; we threw it back)

This ground cover plant was very cool

This ground cover plant was very cool

The shallow grassy flats (the areas darker in color) are great places to spot lots of little creatures like sea horses, pipe fish, live shells, crabs and fish

The shallow grassy flats (the areas darker in color) are great places to spot lots of little creatures like sea horses, pipe fish, live shells, crabs and fish

Sandbar

Sandbar

The water on the estuary side of the island is brackish (a mix of fresh and salty water that changes depending on things like tide, rainfall and how much water is released from Lake Okeechobee (80 miles up the Caloosahatchee River from here).

Around the docks there are sea stars, sea slugs, fish, shells, crabs and other little creatures

Around the docks there are sea stars, sea slugs, fish, shells, crabs and other little creatures

Bow and arrow for fishing

Bow and arrow for fishing

Hunting for bait…While we were in this spot we saw a small bonnethead shark (illegal to shoot; quite unsportsman-like to catch with a bow and arrow (it would be like shooting fish in a barrell) (couldn’t resist haha). We were searching for rays (the fishing guide called them skates but really they are Southern Stingrays).

Got one (actually 3!) ; and the fishing guide we went with shot a few more and then we were off...

Got one (actually 3!) ; and then we were off…

Fish oN!

Fish oN!

It's a big one!!

It’s a big one!!

Woah!

Woah!

Checking it out: it is a Goliath Grouper (and that guy is a fishing guide)

Checking it out: it is a Goliath Grouper (and that guy is a fishing guide)

Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper

300lbs!!

300lbs!!

Catch and release, of course. These are endangered; due to being extremely easy to catch and being heavily over-harvested until 1990! Case in point…10 minutes later…

Then Pop caught this guy! A 200+ pounder!

Pop caught this guy! Another huge one!

The best St. Patty's Day photo!! (this was on the 17th!)

The best St. Patty’s Day photo!! (this was on the 17th!)

Not the greatest shot; but see the iguana on the beach? (Gasparilla Island)

Not the greatest shot; but see the iguana on the log on the beach? (Gasparilla Island)

Again, not the greatest shot; but that is a sea turtle coming up for air (Boca Grande Pass)

Again, not the greatest shot; but that is a sea turtle coming up for air (Boca Grande Pass)

While in Florida we also got to drive up to Sarasota and visit some cousins!

Cousins (they grew up in the same neighborhood in Long Island, NY!)

Cousins (they grew up in the same neighborhood in Long Island, NY!)

She and her husband are both vets and have some great animals!!

She and her husband are both vets; the kids loved meeting their cousins and their pets!

This pony's name is Trouble. ahahha

This pony’s name is Trouble. ahahha

A bearded dragon

A bearded dragon

Cool reptile

Cool reptile

Spanish moss

Spanish moss

We had such a nice visit!

We had such a nice visit!

Back out on the water…

Enjoying the boat ride

Enjoying the boat ride

Dolphin

Dolphin

Little footprint

Little footprint

So many shells!

So many shells!

The many faces...haha

The many faces…haha

(dead) Horseshoe crabs

(dead) Horseshoe crabs

Cormorant on a channel marker

Cormorant on a channel marker

A nice collection of (dead) horseshoe crabs

A nice collection of (dead) horseshoe crabs; we brought several home (and they survived the flight home!)

Playing in the surf

Playing in the surf

Catch of the day!

Catch of the day!

A shiny piece of a sea pen (a type of shell)

A shiny piece of a sea pen (a type of shell)

Delicious lunch here! (on North Captiva)

Delicious lunch here! (on North Captiva)

Exploring the mangroves

Exploring the mangroves

And playing games, while waiting for lunch

And playing games, while waiting for lunch

We also caught a spring training game...

We also caught a spring training game…

Where the Yankees beat the Red Sox! Wooo!

Where the Yankees beat the Red Sox! Wooo!

Really great seats

Really great seats

Spanish moss and lichen

Spanish moss and lichen

My old Strawberry Shortcake; who Baby says looks like Chuckie. Hahaha

My old Strawberry Shortcake; who Baby says looks like Chuckie. Hahaha

My mom's paintings

My mom’s paintings

Great Grandma (my grandmother who I am named after)

Great Grandma (my grandmother who I am named after)

Cayo Costa

Cayo Costa

A mermaid!

A mermaid!

Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico

Cayo Costa

Cayo Costa

Nana & Pop; thanks for the best spring break ever!!!

Nana & Pop; thanks for the best spring break ever!!!

Moss, etc.

Moss

Moss

I heart moss

I heart moss

Orange you glad I posted this mushroom picture?

Orange you glad I posted this mushroom picture?

Kind of like an orange scallop

Kind of like an orange scallop

Baby and Aunt Spy taking in some flag football

Baby and Aunt Spy taking in some flag football

Checking out his jersey

Checking out his jersey

Tree Pose

Tree Pose

A creature in the garden!

A creature in the garden!

Tasting the red celery leaves

Tasting the red celery leaves

Ready for Easter

Ready for Easter

Springy

Springy

Tulips (my favorite)

Tulips (my favorite)

A white carrot (overwintered)

A white carrot (overwintered)

Buds and a blue sky

Buds and a blue sky

Turning green

Turning green

Bloody dock

Bloody dock

Dexie in the garden

Dexie in the garden

Dusk

Dusk

Baby ready to head down into the forest on a chilly spring morning

Baby ready to head down into the forest at school on a chilly spring morning

Daffodil...and note the Cindarella coach in the background. Unplugged (and all the other Christmas lights are down) but still in the yard. Its just so sparkling and festive we haven't put it away yet. Hahaha

Daffodil…and note the Cindarella coach in the background. Unplugged (and all the other Christmas lights are down) but it is still in the yard. Its just so sparkling and festive we haven’t put it away yet. Hahaha

One with the garden

One with the garden

Pictureless Post

Disclaimer: this post isn’t actually picture-less. Ha! But it does involve more words (and less pictures) than usual.

Today (March 3, 2016) I saw a bunch of blooming white snowdrops and small yellow crocus and thought that was a good enough reason to write a blog post. Alas, I don’t have pictures of any of the cheery spring flowers from today; but the bulbs in our yard are growing fast and soon spring will be in full swing and photos like these:

The other day

The other day

Shall be replaced with photos like this:

The other day

The other day

Our weather is indeed capricious. All of the pictures here are from roughly the last 10 days. Snow, sun, hot, cold; winter is Missouri is the best! No wonder it’s my favorite season; you get all four seasons in one; talk about variety! Who could ever be bored?!

We’ve seen lots of wildlife lately; Smoochie saw a coyote. I’ve seen a fox, a great blue heron and several Barred owls. Also, Dexie chased a groundhog right in front of me when we were running in the forest. It was a big fluffy groundhog that looked like a teddy bear; a desperate and angry teddy bear. Lumbering clumsily down the hillside, stopping at times to stand its ground to a barking Dexie. It must’ve known she wasn’t brave enough to eat it (she eventually left it alone). Dexie’s daily routine involves cornering possums and chasing deer around our house after the sun sets. On another recent jaunt in the forest she cornered a possum against a tree and I watched as it fainted (very convincingly).

Dawn and dusk are good times for animal-watching. Even if I just go out on my front deck and stand there for a minute I will likely see a bat if it is close to dusk (at least on one of our warmer days!). We’ve been wondering about the snakes. Did they spend the winter in the tree? Did their eggs ever hatch? I wonder if that big skink will appear again this spring (at least I think it’s been the same one!)? And I also wonder if that copperhead on our front steps last year was just a loner or part of some copperhead community den living under our front deck; is that paranoid?!

Animal-ing (I think I’ll trademark that) is a fun hobby. It is sort of a mindless and enjoyable to just think about the animals you’ve seen lately, take pictures of animals, read about animals…

I snapped this today near our home. 18 deer/turkeys in this photo!!! It almost looks fake!

I snapped this today near our home. 18 deer/turkeys in this photo!!! It almost looks fake!

Baby’s class (called the (kid-named of course): “Cantaloupe Camels”) was brainstorming ideas for the spring semester project. The kids are supposed to pick the subject matter for the project (part of Reggio philosophy). The Cantaloupe Camels picked “Fire”. And got vetoed. I was all for the fire project. I mean, it’s not like the kids had to set fires, they could’ve learned about famous fires, or learned about what is flammable or fire retardant. Famous paintings featuring fires? Candle-making? I mean, pyromania is just one aspect in the wide umbrella of the topic Fire, right?

IMG_8516

And 2016 is the Red Fire Monkey Year according to Chinese calendar.

So basically Baby’s class is in touch with the universe. But I get it, they’re 3 (turning 4)…maybe it was a little too extreme. And so, Fire Project is postponed till Pre-K (win!) and the runner’s up project topic is: Animals!

Baby’s teacher sent out an email asking parents for help with direction on the Animal project. Here’s an excerpt:

So far the Cantaloupe Camels have successfully spotted fish, several birds, a dead snake, a crayfish claw and lots of animal evidence (scat, fur, feathers, prints). But where are all the animals? The children tried feeding the animals bread, hiding behind trees, fox walking very sneaky and sitting very still. Still, no new animals seen in weeks. The plan must be reconsidered.

We want to know what animals prefer to eat in order to better be able to serve them. If you have information or experience in this topic, please get back to us with how you can help.

Questions to consider:

Are there native plants that attract animals for a food source or other reasons? What plants are getting nibbled by your house? Have you planted anything specific to attract animals or insects? What type of feeders, if any, do you use? How can we feed the animals without disrupting the ecosystem?

Thank you for taking the time to make this project awesome! The Cantaloupe Camels are determined individuals and continue their search relentlessly.

So I can’t really think of any good tips for this animal project. Like I said, Animal-ing™ is a lovely mindless pursuit for me and might involve an hour in the woods with no animal sightings at all. How will this project develop? Je ne sais pas. I just hope it doesn’t involve a trip to the zoo (far too pedestrian an idea for Forest School). Haahaha

The thing about real animal-watching is that it is an ephemeral thing: fleeting moments, that you really can’t plan for or predict. I spend loads of time in the woods which is why I’ve seen so many animals in the past few weeks. But, a field trip to the woods doesn’t guarantee an animal-sighting, much less an entertaining display of action (e.g. happening upon, say, a snake mating). But what about the searching; isn’t that where the meaning lies?

Orange lichen

Orange lichen

Forest floor

Forest floor

Reflection

Reflection

Mindfulness, patience, a quiet meditation on the existence of animals; aren’t those good Animal-related project topics for three year olds?! Hahahahahahah

How about paintings of animals? If I had to plan the thing I would probably go the art-show route. An art show of animal paintings. Performance art? Animal topiaries? Something like that. When Spy boy was just a little spy he also did an animal project at Forest school (back when the school didn’t have a forest!) that culminated with an animal parade in which the kids created their own type of animal and designed their own costumes for an Animal Parade.

Baby Spy as part giraffe/part hawk

Baby Spy as part giraffe/part hawk

If you have any good tips for Baby’s class about the direction of the Animal Project/responses to their teacher’s questions, please leave them in the comments!