The cold air and barren trees were left behind, as we headed down to sunny south Florida last Saturday, with our destination being my parents’ home in Okeechobee. My toes were delighted to leave the confinement of closed-in shoes and enjoy sandals and going barefoot once again! We arrived at their house later that evening, and were joined by the rest of the family the next morning. Nephew Tyler and niece Haydyn accompanied Wes and I on a nice bike ride. However, while going in one direction it was most pleasant, when we turned around to come back we found the strong gusty winds hitting us head on, and Haydyn exclaimed “The wind’s pushing me down!”, as she struggled to peddle forwards! Afterwards we shot some basketball hoops and took turns swinging, then that afternoon the entire family took a drive over to Ft. Pierce, to enjoy the beach for awhile. When we got there, we were met by strong winds, which created a rambunctious surf! As we braved the elements and ventured out onto the sandy beach, I noticed the sand was creeping and slowly moving along the ground in mass, creating a most unusual visual effect! It looked as if the beach was alive and marching away! Tyler, Haydyn and I went to feel the water and they had to be constantly held onto, to keep from being swept away by the strong currents. The waves rolled in one after another, crashing and creating thousand of bubbles and a carpet of sea foam, which I got the kids to enjoy feeling with me. Each time a wave would come in, we would hold our hands down flat while feeling the sizzling foam, and they would cry “Bubbles!” We also got my dad and uncle Wes in on the action, and before it was all over, we were all quite wet and felt like we had been sand blasted!
Several Man O’ Wars had washed onto the sandy beach and looked like Chihully glass sculptures lying about, with their beautiful glass-like, see through blue bodies inflated. We had to be very careful not to step on any while walking about and admiring them! It was then time for supper so we enjoyed a picnic near the water, while watching the birds and feeding the seagulls. However, the strong winds blowing and trying to carry everything off made it quite challenging at times. By then the sun was dipping low in the sky, so we walked over to the jetty and watched the people there fishing, while waiting for the moonrise. All of a sudden it appeared out from behind the clouds . . . big, orange and beautiful! The constantly changing clouds slowly creeping in front of it gave it an air of mystery at times. We enjoyed looking at it for sometime, before heading back home, and of course we had to make an ice cream stop along the way!
Monday morning the kids came over and we all spent the day building them a fort out of wooden shipping palettes that my mom had gotten from friends. We slowly figured it out, measuring, sawing and nailing, as the kids watched it take shape and come to life. A back deck and two windows, one looking out over the pond, were incorporated into it. Later that afternoon we had completed Ft. Davis and it was time to start enjoying it. We carried crayons and paper up into it and it became a temporary art studio, a very picturesque looking one at that, nestled amongst a large Oak tree with graceful horizontal limbs adorned with Spanish Moss, looking like a swamp fortress! The remainder of the day was spent, playing in the fort., watching the pond for the alligator and frogs, and riding the four-wheeler. I absolutely love riding the four-wheeler, and the moment it cranks up, my pulse quickens in anticipation of riding through the woods, alongside the pond and zipping up and down the driveway. The kids love riding it with their Aunt NoNo too! However, after riding with me once before, Wes refuses to ride with me anymore . . . can’t imagine why . . . hee hee!
Tuesday was spent playing outside in the sunshine once again, and later that afternoon my brother Marshall and I headed to a favorite spot of ours called Grassy Island Trail, a bike trail, which snakes through several gorgeous oak hammocks and sandy pine woodlands. We had the trail completely to ourselves for the afternoon ride, and as always I enjoyed every minute of it! We saw several Armadillos and the air was filled with the songs and chirps of warblers migrating through the area. After watching Marshall ride one of the newly built stunts along the trail, I decided to show him how I did it. So I rode quickly up to it, then stopped, got off of my bike, and rolled it over the edge of the wooden platform, then mounted it and rode off once back on the ground. I don’t’ think he was very impressed however. Refreshed and relaxed the two of us left the seclusion of the trail and headed to 2nd Street Pizza where we met the remainder of the family for a delicious pizza! Another great day had been enjoyed!
Wednesday we girls went to a local café called Nutmegs for lunch, while the guys had lunch at Taco Bell. While there, I was surprised to see long time friends and fellow birders, Danny and Kim Thomas and Sharon Suits, who was my Biology teacher in high school. It was a real treat to see them, as we share numerous wonderful memories form birding trips in the past! Afterwards the guys met us at Lake Okeechobee where we fed the seagulls and grackles. They came in mass and swooped down catching the small pieces of bread in mid air! Their beautiful wings outlined in white were stunning paired against the brilliant blue skies above! We then walked out onto the pier where we found two gators, a young one, and one 8 footer! We saw several Purple Gallinules, their brilliant, iridescent purple and blue feathers illuminated by the sun, carried by two bright orange legs with large feet! We saw Glossy Ibis, White Ibis and many other beautiful water birds that enjoy calling the lake home.
March 16 – April 13, 2014: Premiering at the Ella Carothers Dunnegan Gallery of Art, Bolivar, MO
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Until next time ~ Rachelle