Love this picture where I was also able to capture the water reflection of the roseate spoonbill

This is the first time in our many winter trips to Florida that we have rented a unit on the 10th floor. Usually we try for the third to fifth floors feeling that these floors offer the ocean view that we like best. Last Fall it seemed that health complications might keep us from spending some of the winter months in Florida. By the time complications got resolved and we knew we could go, the only unit available in one of the two condo buildings we were interested in, was on the tenth floor. Well the view is still spectacular – in a slightly different way – and the ocean birds flying by at our floor level are an unexpected treat.

There is so much to learn about Florida birds. Today we golfed at a nearby public course and were treated to the roseate spoonbill pictured above – so impressive, so exotic. It has such a majestic air in flight as it displays is bright pink and white plumage. As the Audubon website says the roseate spoonbill is “Gorgeous at a distance and bizarre up close“. Have found myself pondering the Audubon words – how often in life does something look good from a distance and disappoint on closer inspection.

The spoonbill is just one of the multitude of colorful birds we are seeing during our Florida stay. We frequently are treated to seagulls, pelicans, herons, ospreys, egrets – the list goes on ……..

I got turned on to a specific interest in birds during the 1990’s. Jerry and I were visiting Meg who had finished her commitment as a Jesuit volunteer in Portland Oregon and was now back in Portland teaching in high school. At her suggestion, one late afternoon, we took a picnic supper to the Chapman Elementary School in northwest Portland, joining hundreds of other folks who were already gathered. It was early Fall and birds were migrating to warmer climates as they prepared for winter. According to the Portland news program KGW, “for nearly four decades, thousands of (Vaux) swifts have come to Portland in September swarming the chimney of Chapman as they prepare to roost for the night.” The birds’ aerial display is truly awesome but so is their eventual funneling down into the chimney. According to the Portland Audubon Society, on Labor Day 2022, six thousand seven hundred and ninety swifts were counted funneling into the Chapman chimney to spend the night. The incredible swift display that we witnessed with Meg was definitely a catalyst for my bird interest. That interest is now maintained by the variety of bird traffic we experience at our three backyard feeders at home.

Jerry and I are very conscious of nature’s offerings when we are on our home turf. And it gives us much pleasure to explore Florida’s offerings. When our cousins Liane and Ron were visiting we visited the Florida Oceanographic Institute in Stuart. I saw my first sea horse. He was less than an inch in size – so magnificent in his bodily detail and yet so small in size.

Another day we had a great tour of the Jupiter lighthouse and museum. Can’t remember why the 105 lighthouse stairs were closed for public climbing but my left, sometimes achy, knee was grateful that I did not have to deal with the temptation to give it a try. We had an amazing tour guide who in addition to being knowledgable of the political history of the area was gifted in sharing her well informed background on its flora and fauna as she took us on a walking tour.

I am a big fan of the banyan tree. It is native to India but does very well in southern Florida. Its thick woody root system grows laterally eventually maturing into a trunk system that can cover a very wide area. Our guide showed us a favorite banyan backdrop spot for wedding ceremonies. It was simple and peaceful.

Another meaningful outing we had with Liane and Ron was our visit to the Elliott Museum where they were featuring the works of Norman Rockwell. I find his work to be so reflective of American culture. It was fun looking at the various picture with Liane and sharing our favorites.

Last week our friends Janet and Jerry invited us to join them on a hike with the Adventure Club from their church. The destination was the Mc Carthy Ranch Preserve in Port St Lucie. Though it covers 3,107 acres the groups ‘goal was two hours of hiking followed by a fun lunch. We were cautioned to be on the lookout for snakes and boars and the one alligator who had been spotted in one of the lakes. It was a great walk but no animal life put in an appearance.

I could never live in Florida permanently but it is a fun place to visit. Also we have thoroughly enjoyed the friends we have made here, plus the family and friends who have visited us during our Florida stays. Now due to aging and ill health , those numbers have greatly decreased.

As an avowed political junkie I have a hard time with Florida’s present governor. Jerry and I had lunch recently with Nora and Art, Florida transplants from the Washington, DC area with whom we share family and similar political interests. We met after Ash Wednesday mass at a church of their selection near where they have a condo in Jupiter. The twelve o’clock mass was crowded with our contemporaries. As we stood outside afterward waiting for our friends, Jerry pointed out a nearby crucifixion statue which had been donated Perry Como and his wife. I was very touched having been a childhood Perry Como fan. We learned that he and his wife had been parishioners of this church.

We moved into our suburban Virginia home almost thirty three years. At that time we were one of the younger couples in the community. Now we are one of the oldest couples.The elementary school that serves our community is outstanding and a big draw for young families. But all ages are well represented. We like it that way. Condo life in Florida is weighted toward the older population, except when children and grandchildren come to visit.

When we first came to Florida it was not that important to us to rent right on the ocean – it was the weather, the golf, the flora and fauna. Now being on the ocean and experiencing the various moods of the ocean we just love it. The ocean is like life – sometimes it is calm and peaceful and sometimes it is wild. I like to reflect on these words of Buddha:

If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand.

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