My consolation prize

I’m at the Tampa Airport for my flight back to Denver. I arrived early, early Friday morning and later that day spotted a Roseate Spoonbill swirling its bill in the irrigation ditch running through the community where my mom lives. I was thrilled! I’d never seen one and ran back to my mom’s for my camera. The spoonbill was gone by the time I’d returned.

Later that day I saw one flying high overhead (the pink was the tip-off) and the following day was driving past when I saw a spoonbill in the ditch. Again, I didn’t have my camera but drove home, grabbed it, and sprinted back. Gone.

I went out early in the mornings and in the late afternoons during the time slots the locals suggested held the highest potential for a sighting. I brought my camera in the car.

No more spoonbills.

So now I’m headed home with nothing more than a couple mental snapshots of that unusual species. PLUS this photo of a Pileated Woodpecker I spotted at Kapok Park yesterday. The image isn’t anywhere near sharp, but I’m very happy for the sighting and this photographic memento.

I’ll be back for the Roseate Spoonbill.

Monday, Monday can’t trust that day

I started my day at one of my favorite places on the planet, Kapok Park. I wandered around with my camera and came upon this sign that reminded me of Zebu. I’d taken a photo of him next to that same sign when he and I visited the park a year ago.

So when I saw the sign today, I missed my son and decided to take a quick pic to send in a text. I stepped closer to the sign and focused on framing the shot. Suddenly I felt a burning, stinging sensation in my left ankle. I looked down and noticed ants crawling on me. Lots of angry, biting ants.

I’d somehow neglected to see their enormous anthill-home and stepped in it with my big shoe.

The good news is I had a lovely visit to Kapok Park where I managed to avoid molesting the alligators. The bad news is I caused considerable distress to an ant colony.

Happy Monday!

The forest for the trees

I just spent the last several hours tying up some loose threads on the YA project I’ve (most recently ) been working on since last fall. Basically, I wrote pages of notes in order to have a map for the next time I pick it up. The thing is, I cannot put any more energy into this project right now. My critique group gave me feedback last Wednesday on the first 30 pages and it’s still a hot mess. My words, not theirs. Their feedback was spot-on and they offered some great suggestions, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. This is a project I drafted ten years ago and over the following decade revised multiple times. It’s definitely a better story than it was before, but it’s still not where it needs to be.

So. I’m setting it aside because the characters and plot have become a jumble in my mind. I can’t see the forest for the trees and I’m sick of trying.

Whew. I’m feeling a mixture of emotions right now, but there’s a whole lot of relief in letting go.

Rocky Raccoon

Late Monday afternoon I’d just started on the boardwalk at Kapok Park, thrilled the recent rainshowers had kept other visitors away. I walked in solitude, listening to birds and scanning my surroundings. Suddenly, I felt eyes upon me.

A raccoon! Down in the marsh below. Peering out from behind the vegetation. I raised my camera and took some photos. But my presence made the raccoon nervous and it cautiously moved away.

I stayed put and snapped a few more pictures.

But then I felt bad about the stress I was causing the raccoon and so slowly backed away as it ventured into the water. Wait, that water contains alligators! What had I done? What if I’d driven the raccoon into dangerous territory for the sake of a few photos?

Well, as of yesterday the raccoon is alive and well. How do I know? Because my sister is now in Florida and she visited the park yesterday evening where she was shocked to see a raccoon. She sent me a photo of “Rocky Raccoon” and to this non-expert it sure looks like the same raccoon.

Next time I’m in Kapok Park I’ll be sure to give Rocky more privacy.

Beautiful stranger

I took this photo from the boardwalk at Kapok Park and just did a quick online search in hopes of identifying the plant. I was unsuccessful.

However, I don’t need to know the name of this lovely flora to appreciate its beauty. But if anyone out there can identify it for me, I’d welcome the information.

 

Blue Jay Way

I’m at the Tampa airport, headed back to Colorado. Yesterday I went to Kapok Park in late afternoon and took so many photos my camera card reached capacity and wouldn’t let me take anymore. That’s what you call satiation!

Here’s a dapper jay I enountered:

It was a typically wonderful time at Kapok Park and I’m looking forward to going through the many photos I took to see what other gems await me.

Channeling my inner turtle

Early this morning it was below zero and, despite the sun, the temperature is still hovering below freezing. I’m working on revisions right now from a chair strategically located in a patch of sunshine and just remembered this photo I took in Kapok Park last January.

I feel a kinship with this sun-worshipping turtle. If there was a big, warm rock for me to embrace, I’d be doing the same right now.

A tale of two squirrels and Denali National Park

When I lived in Alaska I went to Denali National Park a number of times. You can ride one of the old school buses through the entire park (80+ miles) to the end point which is Wonder Lake. The vistas are magnificent and there’s lots of wildlife to be seen along the way. Moose and Dall’s sheep, maybe a lone wolf galloping along or a brown bear with a cub or two. Ground squirrels and scolding marmots. One of my first rides on the bumpy dirt road was in the company of another visitor who became quite animated at the sight of some moose. There was also a group of park workers on the bus and one of them scoffed at the visitor’s excitement and said something like “You’ve seen one moose, you’ve seen them all.”

I remember feeling bad for that worker and hoping I’d never become bored by what I saw. And so it was in that spirit that I photographed these two squirrels in Kapok Park earlier this month.

I watched in delight as they chased each other around a tree trunk before jumping to the ground where they began to forage. There are certainly more “exotic” creatures in the park such as alligators and anhingas, but these feisty squirrels also caught my attention.

I hereby declare “mundane” be reserved for chores like dirty dishes and suggest that squirrels be viewed as Great Fun! Who’s with me?

Twofer Tuesday: turtle edition

I’d like to think these two turtles were riveted by my presence or had surfaced to deliver an important message from their community , but the truth is they were merely hanging out in hopes I’d drop some food in the water. I had none.

Their disdain was palpable.