Showing posts from 2016

The Wild West of Sanibel, Part 2

September 30, 2016 -- My new Autumn routine includes a 3-mile walk early in the morning, in addition to my usual 2-kilometer swim in the pool at mid-day.  The walk always includes at least a few minutes on the beach; the rest is along the shared-use path.

If conditions are good (low-ish tide, no rainstorms threatening, not too much hot sun), I will walk on the beach the entire way to the trail head on Silver Key.  There, I can either take the trail or continue along the beach. Continuing along the beach requires some nimble maneuvering around, through, and over some dead trees -- trees whose lives were claimed by the Gulf of Mexico.

The great reward, after maneuvering through the trees-turned-into-driftwood-statues, is that I reach the point where Clam Bayou/Old Blind Pass now meet the Gulf of Mexico.  For years, this meeting of the waters did not exist; the sandy beach separated the bayous from the Gulf.  Last month, that changed.  Some experts said the re-opening would just close u…

What it means to be green

June 24, 2016 -- The Grand Floridian Resort is, surprisingly, a member of Florida's Green Lodging Program, in spite of the fact that the resort has created an environmental no-no on its property: fake beach on the lagoon that I blogged about on June 16.

According to the Green Lodging Program's web site, "The Florida Green Lodging Program is a voluntary initiative of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that designates and recognizes lodging facilities that make a commitment to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources. The program’s environmental guidelines allow the hospitality industry to evaluate its operations, set goals and take specific actions to continuously improve environmental performance."
I wrote to the Florida DEP's ombudsman office to suggest that one of the program's environmental guidelines should be that lagoons on hotel properties should be surrounded by native vegetation, and should not have "beaches" …

Speak their names

June 21, 2016 -- "One year ago," Pastor John said on Sunday, "during the sermon I read the list of names of the victims of the shooting in Charleston."  This time, in the aftermath of the massacre in Orlando, he wanted help.  He had asked Paul and me to share the reading of the names during a prayer after the sermon.

I thanked him for the opportunity to do something to help the families of the victims. Lifting their loved ones' names up in prayer was something we could do.

After researching and practicing the pronunciation of the names given to me to read on Saturday, I was ready.  I speak French, not Spanish, but I tried. I wanted to give the respect of saying these young people's names correctly.

That was Sunday.  The next day was Monday, yesterday, the longest day of the year.  The full moon rose in the sky.  Monday evening was also the time that most of our night-blooming cereus bloomed.  These glorious, strange blossoms burst out exuberantly just once …

Guilty: The Grand Floridian

June 16, 2016 -- I used to write newspaper articles about alligators on Sanibel Island.  More specifically, I wrote about incidents involving alligators, as recorded in police reports.  My goal was to explain that complaining to the police about an alligator's presence was a death sentence to the alligator, especially if it is over 6 feet long.  Those reported alligators are killed; the smaller ones are relocated.  I stopped writing those articles when I began to suspect that they were reminding some people that they could get rid of any alligator by simply calling the police.

Indeed, alligators who show no fear of humans are dangerous.  But most alligators are not dangerous to humans, because they fear and avoid them.  What makes alligators lose that fear?  People who feed alligators, that's what.  Almost all alligators who have attacked humans have been fed by humans. Those alligators then associate humans with food, not fear.

The hoteliers who decided it would be a good id…

Go Mangrove!

April 16, 2016 -- In April 2013, this is what I said about mangroves during the "mission moment" at church:

When you live in this part of Florida, you know or you soon learn that native plants are important to our ecosystem. Mangrove trees are true natives, and they are our most valuable coastal resource. Biologically, they form the structure for a complex ecosystem that is the link between the land and the sea.

These mangroves stabilize our shorelines. Their root systems slow water flow, and that facilitates the deposit of organic material and sediment that provide nutrients that are the basis of the marine life food chain. Excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are filtered from coastal waters by mangroves, and are incorporated into the leaves, branches and root systems of the trees.

Mangroves are important to fish. About 85 to 90 percent of all local commercial and recreational fish depend on mangroves for food and shelter. Other marine organisms attach to the mang…

Come Back Anytime

April 4, 2016 -- Some people bring joy everywhere they go.  Our friend Dan Barnes was one of those blessed folks.  And so is Holly Downing, his wife.

Tom and I know them from our years living in Columbus.  We were delighted when they came to visit us in Sanibel ten years and two months ago -- January 2006.

We dined al fresco at Doc Ford's the first night of their visit, and the second night, we had accepted an invitation to an open-house cocktail party for prospective members at The Sanctuary Golf Club. We're no golfers, but I'm a serious swimmer, and the pool at the city's recreation center was closed, or about to be closed.  I was hoping that the recent renovations at The Sanctuary included an enlargement of their swimming pool.  If so, we just might have bought a social membership.

We asked Dan and Holly if they would like to go with us to The Sanctuary.  They said yes, with enthusiasm!  After a several minutes at the party, I was worried that we'd made a mistak…

Lifting the fog

March 15, 2016 -- As I drove to the polling place, the fog was thick and metaphorical.  I could see hundreds of feet ahead of me, so the driving wasn't dangerous, and I sure do know the road well.  I could be certain of how to vote, but I don't have a crystal ball and so don't know what the long-range outcome will be.

I studied and considered, and I voted for a candidate.  I voted for clean water in the bayou.  I voted for the health of the dolphins and manatees we watch every day.  I voted for the health of my fellow citizens.  I voted for a government that is not wasteful and not meddling.  I voted for responsibility and compassion.  I voted for security and freedom.  I voted for a more peaceful world and a more balanced ecosystem.  I voted for prosperity for all, not just a few.

I'm not going to tell you for whom I voted.

I'd gone out to vote before breakfast; I couldn't wait.  Voting was the most important thing I'll do all day -- all week.  I was the …

Welcome to Signibel

February 26, 2016 -- Signs are taking over the island of Sanibel.  My husband and I refer to the island as "Signibel" when we wish to express our exasperation over this phenomenon.

Tourists like some of our unique signs, such as "Watch for Low Flying Owls" and "Alligator Crossing."  Maybe those signs are okay.  Or do they create hazards when tourists pull off the road to photograph them?

Now Periwinkle Way is peppered with so many signs that it is impossible for drivers to read them all without being reckless.

Even on the outer edges of the island, like at Blind Pass, are signs that are unnecessary, even unreadable -- such as the one pictured below.

Obviously this one is a maintenance issue.  Perhaps if the City (or County?) cannot maintain the signs adequately, it should begin to remove them.  Signs like this are eyesores.  If such a sign is needed for public safety, then maintaining it in a readable state should be a priority.
I know how these signs pr…

Death arrived before the healing could

February 22, 2016, I sat in the sun, my eyes closed, for several minutes, blissfully unaware of the gruesome sight just a few feet away from me.  I contemplated the past weekend, a whirlwind  of dinners with friends, four nights in a row!  Many domestic chores were completed, too, including the partial installation of propane service so that soon, we'll be cooking with gas in our kitchen.  I moderated the first in a series of new programs called "This is My Story" at church.  Tom played at his first outdoor jazz concert this season.  The weather has been stunningly beautiful.  So on this Monday afternoon,  I decided to take advantage of it by moving the lawn chair into the sun on a patch of shell path in our backyard, near the dock.

For some reason, I opened my eyes, and turned my head far around to my right.  There lay a dead cormorant on a flagstone next to the house.

"Tom, there's a dead cormorant out here," I called.  Tom was plugging in a new light ove…

From the Bayou to the Hospital and Back Again

February 20, 2016 -- We weathered yet another storm.  During Christmas weekend, Tom suffered from fevers; when Monday morning came, we went directly to the doctor's office, and from there Tom was sent by ambulance to the hospital near downtown Fort Myers.

This time his stay was longer -- two weeks, altogether.  The hospital and its parking lot became very familiar.  I noted the mature, luxuriant coonties in the parking lot's "islands."  So these are what our baby coonties will grow up to resemble!  Cute little cycads, they are.

I told Tom about the mature coonties in the parking lot, and a host of other outdoor sights that I witnessed during those two weeks.  He was not only indoors for that entire time, but he was in the ICU for four nights and five days of those two weeks.  The ICU is a wild and crazy place, with all the alarms sounding and people coming and going.

The care Tom received at this Lee Memorial Hospital was excellent.  His diagnosis, pneumonia, was m…