A Gekko's Watch

Holding on with sticky pad feet outside my door, the vigilant gekko prepares for an active evening. The ones that live outside my door in South Florida come alive at night. They hover near the lights where moths and other insects are drawn. As I walk up the apartment steps, I see about one gekko on watch per door. They work alone and are apparently territorial.

In a cold snap, gekkos will try to get into the house to wait for the air to warm outside. It doesn’t happen very often, but I keep watch to make sure they get out of the house alive. One time, I was sure that a gekko watched my steps and ran out along side me as I opened the door to leave. That’s when it first occurred to me that these reptiles had more intelligence than I gave them credit for.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay

The city possum

opossumLast night, I saw an opossum lurking in front of the apartment’s dumpster. At first glance, it looked like a cat. In our city, we have the Sawgrass Nature Center and Wildlife Hospital to help sick or injured wildlife. This little marsupial looked rather healthy, however.

Kindness to animals is a good habit to cultivate and share with children. Building designs for cohabitation are a worthwhile effort. Being employed in the “build” industry has increased my awareness.

I hope to learn more about this precious animal and its contribution to our natural world. Check out links below.

Sawgrass Nature Center in Coral Springs:  http://www.sawgrassnaturecenter.org.

Opossum Society of the United States: http://www.opossumsocietyus.org.

 

Nature Mural

img_1021On the grounds of the Coral Springs Museum of Art, a 7,000-tile ceramic relief mural graces the grounds. Created by clay artist Jan Kolenda, and dedicated in 2012, it is titled “Imagine Florida.” One side depicts the ocean reef to the beach; side two highlights the hardwood hammocks to the Everglades. It is designed as a scroll, and two quotations grace an end:

“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth; remote, never wholly known.” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

“Wilderness to me is a spiritual necessity.” – Clyde Butcher.

everglades new.JPG

Palm Fronds Falling

palm-frondI’m always surprised when I hear one of these go “thud” on the ground. And I’m grateful that I wasn’t walking under the tree when it did fall.

If a little closer to Halloween, it would make quite a neat witch’s broom. Check out the deep chestnut color of the base of this frond. I’d like to capture that color in a drawing.

Light breezes stir up the trees, and they are pruned by nature itself. Better that this happens gradually than to have them all let loose at once during a tropical storm.

I ponder the possible uses of this tree debris. In the end I just capture it with the camera!

Ducks, trucks and a rescue

FiretruckThe day started like every other for the Muscovy duck mother. Her brood of nine flounced along behind her. The fluffy yellow and brown downy bodies were like little wind-up toys waddling behind their mom. A full-grown Muscovy duck has a face a bit like a turkey. It has bright red mounds of skin marking the eyes and bill area creating markings that appear as a face-mask.

Millie, the mother duck, hadn’t been wandering out quite this far before with her little ones. It was time to introduce them to the bigger world. Moving across open space in familiar territory was refreshing. She confidently crossed the parking lot and waddled with large, webbed feet over the sewer grate. She had done this a hundred times before while alone. As she went forward, it never occurred to her to look behind.

Suddenly, she felt quite alone. Turning around, all she saw was the familiar grate in the middle of the parking lot. Then she started to hear chirps of her little ones. She waddled towards the sound. Looking down, she saw nine small, fluffy bodies swimming in a round pool of water. They were further than a human’s arm length below. She began to call back to her ducklings.

A neighbor in the apartment complex came outside and heard the calls of mother and offspring. With the mother duck running around the sewer grate and sounds of unseen ducklings, it didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. Civilization often brings unexpected dangers to wildlife. That grate was way too heavy for the neighbor to lift herself, and the water was too far below to reach. Some professional help was definitely needed! True, but what kind of professional would one call? She had never heard of a duck rescue number in the city.

She found the non-emergency city number, and a fire truck was soon dispatched. When the firemen arrived, they removed the grate, but saw that they could not reach the ducks. People started gathering around the area when they saw the fire truck in the neighborhood. A spaghetti colander with string to lower down to the ducks was offered. That didn’t work, because the little ducks kept swimming away. A net was needed to quickly snatch the scared babies.

When firemen from the first fire truck saw that they would not be able to complete the rescue, a second truck was dispatched with the proper equipment on it. A long-poled net was put down the hole, and one by one the little ducks were brought up. The firemen tried to carefully round up each of the ducklings to reconnect with their mother.

It wasn’t simple to get all of the ducklings out and back with their mother. The firemen had obviously done this rescue procedure before and knew that each of the ducklings had to reconnect promptly as a family. After a round-up effort that would have made a shepherding border collie proud, all nine of them were accounted for.

Millie promptly went back to the quiet canal in the park next door with her brood behind her. One by one the little ones followed her into the quiet water to rinse off  the dirty water they had been swimming in. Then they followed her to rest quietly by the shade of the oak tree and nestled in the soft green grass.

The firemen put the net back on the truck with the crucial equipment they carried for emergencies. They went back to the firehouse and waited for their next emergency call. The neighbor went back to her apartment and considered the act of kindness that she had been a part of. The resident ducks may not be beautiful, but they’ve found a way into her heart.

Soft places imagined

winter-652726_640Sitting on a large rock, the young girl felt the warmth in the middle of winter. Snow-tipped juniper bushes touched the cottony snow mounds. Grey branches rose high above her head. The small berries on the juniper tree were lovely to see. Soon, the girl found it irresistible to jump with wild abandon in the juniper bushes laying low to the ground. She was careful not to break the boughs.

Soon cold, she went home and changed her clothes. A flannel shirt and some hot tomato soup warmed her body. The pleasure of that day has never left her. When life is too busy, hard, unrewarding and hard to live, her mind returns to that day. Perhaps her pinnacle experience happened at around ten years of age.

When I encourage others to find a peaceful and happy place in their minds, it’s a bit like asking them to get their flannel on. Joy is being able to find (or find again) a place or thought that lights a fire inside of us. Some days it may inspire us to big things. Other times, it provides embers enough to live another day.

My blog will touch on experiences like this. Show me that I’m not alone. If we can each find our inner flannel, we can help others find theirs. Along the way, notice the birds that sing, the trees that shade you, the water that glistens and the blue skies that are limitless.

(Pixabay photo)