1.21.2008

Florida stories: Our neighborhood, some things we saw

We went for a long, long walk on Sunday -- the day after the humongous rainstorm. The drainage ditches had enough water for the ducks. It's not a big deal because there are so many lakes and ponds all over the place anyway. (Just in case there's not enough humidity in the summer.) click on photos for larger images

Very few of the small creeks have bridges this nice. I love this one, love the rust, the shape, the boards. And I particularly love that it's overkill. It's right beside the road and not close to anything important, on a street with no sidewalks or bike lanes. So very Florida.


Oh, and this. Coles guns and ammo store. The owner just fixed up the outside with this great new paint job. We almost missed it, it blends so perfectly into the jungle of foliage around it. There's such a weird mix of stuff around where we live -- see the blue dome, that's the Greek Orthodox Church across the street from Coles. What's even weirder about Coles is that usually on a Sunday the parking lot is jammed with trucks and SUVs, all of them with gun racks, of course.


There aren't a lot of things that are fun or inspirational or particularly aesthetic around Clearwater, but we found this just a few blocks from our house. I adore it. It's splendid in its simplicity.


Here's Stevens Creek, looking at it from the east and then from the west, the tide obviously way far out. This is a wonderful place to watch birds. Speaking of which...

As you can see, we don't quite have the hang of the new camera's auto focus ability. Hmmm. I imagine we'll figure out what we need to do so this doesn't happen again. Sadly, I don't know what kind of bird this is. I'm pretty sure it's a heron of some sort. Lovely, even if his head is out of focus. (Please don't be all up in my face about not putting it here, taking another one, etc. I like the photo.)

When I put this shirt on there were a couple of things I thought: 1) I like that the biology teacher in Upstream wears brighter and brighter Hawaiian print shirts as the winter in Homer, Alaska gets colder and darker; and 2) I like wearing this because it was my brother's -- the brother I hadn't spoken to in over 20 years; my sister asked me to pick something from his things that she'd brought home after he died.

This is what Spanish moss looks like before it attaches itself to something else, like an oak tree. Spanish-moss, also called Florida moss, long moss, or graybeard, is not a true moss. It is an epiphytic plant, which grows on another plant, but does not rely on the host plant for nutrients; epiphytes make their own food. Orchids are epiphytes.

And here's the way you most often see it. There are trees in our neighborhood that are almost completely covered with this stuff. Some people love the way it looks, associating it with romantic notions of the South. Bah! Even though it isn't a parasite, it looks like a parasite and can appear to take over a tree.

After we'd been walking about an hour we were both whining and complaining about aches and pains and the need to rest. We tried to book it home but took a wrong turn down a dead-end street and had to double back. So. We hopped into a Comfort Suites motel that was deserted and helped ourselves to hot chocolate and coffee. We had a nice rest.

And this is the Pinellas Trail. The very famous Pinellas Trail. It stretches from the southern tip of Pinellas County (where St. Petersburg is) north into Tarpon Springs, about 34 miles and is a testament to what hard-headed people can accomplish. This path was railroad tracks. The train stopped running and some clever citizens organized and fought for this as a solution to abandoned tracks. Nice, huh? Anyway, our house is just up there about 100', right off the trail. We're going home now.