Beach Jerky

Clearwater Beach on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico is becoming my go-to beach. Our first day there we gazed out the window of our seventh-floor condo and were amazed at all the birds. I felt like I was watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie. They were having feeding frenzies up and down the beach. I had to get down there!

We were a little hesitant to swim. So many birds feeding can only mean one thing. Fish. There were thousands of them. We stood knee-deep in the water and gazed down as they swam past (and sometimes into) us. Of course, large schools of little fish mean bigger fish had to be around, but we only saw a few, and they weren’t the kind that eat you. We were cautious because we are familiar with the food chain. We didn’t want to meet the guys at the top of it.

The feeding frenzy lasted a few mornings. By Day #2, I decided to throw caution to the tropical breezes and fulfill my quest to be in the 86-degree water. Plus, I figured I may never get a bird-watching opportunity like this again. I could be right out there with the gulls, the least terns, and the pelicans.

Majestic brown pelicans flew in formation just a foot or two over my head. I became quite chummy with them – not to be confused with the kind of chum that one uses while fishing. One older guy (you can tell by the white on his head and front of his neck) seemed to enjoy floating near me as much as I enjoyed being close to him. I could have reached out and touched him, but I didn’t. He’s a big boy. Did you know they have a wingspan of 6 ½ feet? Plus, at 50 inches high and having the webbed feet that I lack, he’s nothing to mess around with. We studied each other for half an hour. We chatted, well I chatted. He just listened.

The pelicans have much more self-control than the gulls and terns. Those two breeds seem to live to eat while the opposite could be said of the pelican. The pelicans were also non-imposing with a kind of live-and-let-live mentality. The gulls would land on top of the pelicans during feeding frenzy and try to take food from their mouth. They were real jerks.

The least terns were cute. In my mind they made eating a game and didn’t take life too seriously, unlike those jerk gulls. They would dive right next to us to snatch up some bait fish. It was quite a show.

While watching all of this, I kept an eye out for dorsal fins. I thought the water was too warm for sharks, but you never know. My big hope was to see a dolphin up close. We saw them from our condo, but I wanted more.

And I got it. I was floating around and a beautiful Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin swam right past me, not 10 feet away. I almost wet my pants! I was in the water so you’ll never know! By the end of the day, that dolphin or one of her buddies swam past me three times. None quite as close as that first time though.

On occasion, I had to leave the water to hydrate and reapply sunscreen. Once, I fell asleep in my chair, clearly exhausted from keeping up with all that nature. After a few minutes, I jerked awake, looked out in the water, and saw the dolphin and her calf swim past again. Bob’s convinced I have a dolphin-sense. Maybe he’s right! I saw them daily – from the room, from the beach, while in the water, and in the causeway as we drove over the bridge. I saw them when nobody else did, which called my dolphin-sighting integrity into question, but I would never feign finding a dolphin. I wouldn’t have been surprised if one was waiting for me in our pool when we got home. Okay, I would have been a little surprised.

We also came upon beds of sand dollars when we swam out to the sandbar. I kept wondering what was so rough below my feet. I used my toes like tongs and came up with one after another. They were everywhere. Most of them were the size of a quarter, and we put them back. Picking them up was like eating M&Ms – it’s hard to stop once you start. When my toes cramped and our hands turned yellow from what looks like sand dollar pee and we began to feel like those jerk gulls bothering other sea life, we took that as our cue. By the way, did you know it’s illegal to collect live specimens from the beach? We should have known that, but we did not. We didn’t get into trouble, but we could possibly have contributed to the delinquency of a minor in our sand dollar excitement. I’m not saying we did, but kids like to look at sand dollars. It was an educational trip. I’ll leave it at that.

A Couple of Things Jumped Out at Me this Week

A couple of things jumped out at me this week, they were both frogs. You may remember that I hate them. They seem to know it, too.

Frog #1 – It happened while taking the garbage out in the middle of the day. This is a time that should be frog-free. I am not on the lookout for these slimy green menaces when the sun is high in the sky. That’s my time to look for snakes sunbathing or passing through the grass with only their heads in view. You have to be vigilant down here in the Sunshine State.

Then it happened. I was almost back in the safe, frog-free zone that is my home. As I opened the door, my right foot ready to cross the threshold, something jumped on my left foot. I, in return, jumped, and was grateful that I didn’t fall; but something didn’t feel right afterward. The realization that I must have pulled a muscle made me hate frogs even more. Those aggravating amphibians! On the other hand, I was encouraged because a pulled muscle meant that I do indeed still have muscles. Of course, being the non-athlete that I am, I didn’t know for sure what I did. All I knew was my leg hurt and I thought a frog was attacking me. (Later Bob would give the diagnosis of a pulled hamstring. I felt like an athlete!)

I gained my composure enough to look for the culprit to make sure he didn’t come in with me. He was nowhere to be seen. I did see a flower which had fallen off of my hibiscus on the pavement next to me. I have to assume that the frog disguised himself. No flower would cause me such pain.

Flower or frog?

Frog #2 – A few days later this guy was lying in wait while I was clearing the pool deck as we prepared for Hurricane Dorian. Bob was out-of-town. Frogs seem to sense when he’s not around. When you’re preparing for a hurricane, you have to clear anything around your house that could become a projectile. This includes a lot of stuff when you have an outdoor room. The things that hang on your outside walls do not look as attractive when they fly through the air and break windows. Everything is potentially hazardous. Anyway, I was doing my due diligence just in case the storm arrived.

Before Bob left, he removed the one thing that I didn’t want to tackle, the large space heater. Not only is it heavy, but I knew it was really dirty and gross plus potentially it could have a frog or two hiding under it. I should have had him grab the life jackets that we hang on a column for our youngest grandchildren, because that is where Frog #2 was sleeping. He didn’t appreciate me waking him up either because he scurried (too lazy to even hop) up the column right towards me. I let out one of my embarrassing screams, lurched backward and nearly fell into the pool myself. This action aggravated my aforementioned pulled hammie.

This was a Cuban frog, an invasive species that can be as big as your hand and has eaten most of our native little tree frogs. That makes them even more hated. You now understand just how dangerous frogs can be.

 

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bob has assured me that a pulled hammie takes a while to heal and has advised me to avoid straining it further by staying away from any place where frogs might be hiding. I guess I’m going to Hawaii.

 

Life in Florida = Hurricane Crazed Meteoroligists

It was August 24 when I first heard the storm name Dorian. She went from a wave to a tropical storm to a hurricane in four days. And since August 28, we have been watching and waiting and buying gas and water and wishing the news would cover anything else. After all, we all have the app on our phones. We all know updates come out every three hours. We all have eaten every one of our hurricane snacks.

Photo Credit: Tom Sorrells – Chief Meteorologist, WKMG Channel 6, What is a Spaghetti model?

Yet, my brain will not let it go. My internal clock alarms me at 8, 12, 3, and 5. A new track has just been released! I have a weird craving for spaghetti and at the same time it nauseates me. That is the power of a monster hurricane off the Florida coast. Even if it’s way off the Florida coast. The course could change. We all know that! Stay tuned!

Weathering the storm – My view Tuesday morning at 9:40. Everything is closed today due to the impending storm. That may have been premature, though we did get two bands through around 8 am.

If you’re new to Florida, please know that Dorian has a mind of her own. She doesn’t reflect the speed at which a hurricane can tear through here. You need to keep an eye on her but you also need to do something else. Anything else. This will keep you sane.

Don’t get me wrong. I love weather forecasts. I get made fun of for watching them daily. But even I know when enough is enough. I think the moment for me came when one meteorologist interviewed another meteorologist. Their intent was to simplify things for us, but their conversation was entertaining.

“Will this be like Faye?”

“No, more like Matthew.”

“But it has the potential to be like Michael.”

“And what about Maria?

“How did we solve a problem like Maria? How did we hold a moonbeam in our hand?”

“I think you’re delirious! Those are lyrics from The Sound of Music.”

It was like they were talking about people they know. When you consider how much coverage they give to a storm, it makes sense. As for me, I get a lot of the names mixed up like I do when talking to my children.

But not Irma. I’ll never forget her. We are coming up on two years since she struck and I never want to go through that again. It makes my heart go out to the people in The Bahamas right now.

2004 was the most active year we ever experienced since moving to the Orlando area in 1976. In that year four hurricanes hit Florida. Three of them went through Central Florida beginning with cat 4 Charley on August 13, followed by cat 2 Frances on Sept 4, and ending with cat 3 Jeanne on September 26. They all were not at their worst when they went through, but they were bad enough. Power outages, debris everywhere, so many trees downed! We were all mentally and physically exhausted from prepping and cleaning up over and over again.

I do feel bad for the TV weather folks. When there is a hurricane, they are singularly focused. It’s like they have gotten themselves in deeper than they wanted to and with a storm like Dorian which is moving at a snail’s pace, they have to see it through until the end, of course. I’m thankful for these people and how they serve our communities. I just need to remind myself that there are other things going on in life and I can keep up with more than one thing.

To my point, here’s a picture from this morning’s Weather Channel tropical update. I will need to keep track of more than one thing! Meanwhile, I better bake some brownies just in case we lose power.

Thanks, Weather People. We mock you but we appreciate you!

A Short Post

When this is published there will be 38 days until the first day of Autumn. Contrary to excessive advertising bombarding us with all things fall, and considering there are 3 months or approximately 90 days in each of the 4 seasons, I do not think that summer is almost over.

Need calendar proof? If you’d like to countdown with me, there’s a website for that. Check out https://yourcountdown.to/autumn-fall

Living in Florida, I know that summer is far from over, and that’s why something has gotten on my nerves lately.

No, it’s not the great sales on summer clothing and swimsuits. It’s not the heat either. I look at hot days as opportunities to go swimming or to the beach.

It’s a little bit of the back to school hype. Even thought it’s been a long time since I’ve sent kids off to school, I don’t like to be reminded that summer is coming to a close – BECAUSE IT’S NOT! Even when we lived up north, summer was allowed to be in charge until after Labor Day. Autumn had to fall (so to speak) in behind it.

But that’s not the thing that has my dander up today. It’s shorts.

I’m right in there with all you people who like to make fun of pairs of shorts and pairs of pants when you’re talking about a single piece of clothing. It’s all clean fun. And it has been explained why those articles of clothing are referred to in the plural when they are singular in function. That’s fine.

I was in my beloved Costco a few days ago checking out the clothes, when I noticed they did not have any shorts. They had short(s). I don’t even know how to write this, because if I say they had shorts you will fail to understand fully this weird occurrence. Here’s a picture, that should explain it to you.

Shocking! Isn’t it?

I immediately searched the women’s and men’s tables for the historically correct and accepted word “shorts.” I came up short.

My next task was to ask Merriam-Webster. There is no shortage of definitions for the word “short.” A long way down in his definitions it is stated that shorts are knee-length or less trousers – usually in plural. Short drawers.

Whew, I felt better. Until…

 

Yep. All the tags come up short. I mean they are selling short, which of course means we are now dealing with the stock market and I’ll have to ask my financial advisor son to give me a short explanation of this.

I’m going to end this now just in case your attention span is short.

 

Walking with Ellen and Shaq

As Bob and I strolled along the beach with our feet in the water, it seemed like every other shirt on the beach was trying to tell us something. I was especially entertained by a nine-year-old who wore a shirt that said: “Take More Risks.”

Seriously, kid, who are you to tell me what to do!

We were just chatting while taking a nice stroll down the beach, but we kept passing t-shirts that begged to be read.

“Save Water. Drink Wine”

“I Pooped Today”

“Whatever”

We talked about what our clothing was like when we were kids back in the 60s. We didn’t think about making literal statements on our clothes. The clothes were the statement (and they didn’t say much).

Pretty much it was like this: You have clothes. Be happy.

At least that’s the sentiment suggested by our parents.

This gave way to a conversation about designers and branding, which is something I haven’t really cared about in my clothing. I simply want clothes that aren’t too expensive and make me look smarter, thinner, tanner, more approachable, slightly aloof, sophisticated, down-to-earth, and can be purchased at Costco. That’s it.

I do like words though. And if these kinds of shirts were around when I was a kid, you can be sure I would have begged my parents for them, been upset that they wouldn’t buy them for me, and then moped about it until either they or I couldn’t stand it anymore and I was forced to get over it.

Since Bob has become a grandfather, he has become particularly good at conveying an I-walked-30-miles-to-school-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways” posit, so he elaborated about his childhood, which according to him was mostly spent outside fending for himself like an animal until his parents turned on the porch light and he and his sisters were allowed to return home. Clothing was required but nobody cared what it looked like.

I looked at his clothes and mine as we walked along and said, “Our clothes aren’t saying anything.”

But then I looked closer. While t-shirts yell things at you, our clothes were much more subdued. We took inventory. Bob was wearing:

  • Adidas ballcap
  • Adidas beach shirt
  • Nike swimsuit with a small swoosh
  • O’Neill flip-flops

I really teased him about being a walking, whispering advertisement. Then he turned on me.

My flip-flops were Sanuk. That was all the advertising we could find without looking at the inside tag of my swimsuit. We are very competitive, so we looked at this like golf. The person with less name brands would be the winner.

“What about your glasses?” he asked in frustration. (It looked like I was going to win this round in a cruel and unfair way.)

“You got me there,” I said. “They’re Ellen Degeneres.”

I was winning – 4 to 2, but I felt bad. I was not wearing a hat or a swimsuit cover-up, so the playing field wasn’t even. I thought I should declare it a tie, but then I realized something. “Hey. You’re wearing glasses, too.”

Bob looked at me defeated. “They’re Shaquille O’Neal.”

“Shaquille O’Neal! Shaq has a line of eye glasses? That guy’s into everything, and he just gave me the win.”

I’m still not sure why I find it so funny that Shaq has a line of glasses, but it cracked me up. So, we finished our walk – Bob in his Shaq’s and me in my Ellen’s. Two walking, whispering billboards.

 

Boom, There It is (x 3)

Sometimes forgetting something is the best, and so it was the night of June 24. SpaceX was due to launch another of its Falcon Heavy Rockets at 11:30 PM. More accurately, that was when the launch window would open. Launch windows are tricky and no two seem to be alike. Sometimes there is no window, they must launch exactly at that moment or wait until another day. That is rare, though, usually they have a span of a couple of hours.

I don’t live on the Space Coast. I live 45.24 miles from the Kennedy Space Center as the crow flies (thanks, Alexa). Our living room faces east, so I only have to step outside and I can see the rocket’s red and yellow glare above the tree line seconds after lift-off. It’s a great view and if a launch gets scrubbed, I just go back inside.

No photo description available.

Photo Credit: Fox35 WOFL

I really wanted to watch the June 24 launch. It has been unbelievably hot down here but the humidity hasn’t been too bad, so clear skies were expected. But I forgot all about it and was asleep before 11. At approximately 2:45 AM, Bob and I were jolted awake by the familiar sonic booms – only unlike the space shuttle’s double booms, this time there were three.

falcon heavy launch

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

I jumped out of bed and ran to the front door as Bob reminded me that, by the time we hear the booms, the event is over. Not to be deterred and also not fully awake, I maneuvered through the dark (why didn’t I turn on a light?) and beheld a great view of a very dark sky.

At this point I was fully awake and experienced a mixed bag of thankfulness and regret that I didn’t stay up waiting for the 2:30 AM launch as several of our friends did. After all, some of us (Bob) have to work the next day, and that is precisely why I didn’t engage Bob in conversation as we tried to get back to sleep.

My obstacle was that the house was making weird, creaking noises, which I verified with Bob before I let him off the hook of getting to the why of those noises. I’m nice like that. Why are house sounds so loud in the still of the night?

We live in a 35-year-old wood-frame house. I have noticed it creaks more than our former block home did. This is especially evident on colder nights, but this wasn’t a cold night – far from it. Perhaps some dynamic process is at work changing our house by degrees. I’m assuming that kind of dynamic is thermal.

Real-Life Men Of Science Who Made

Real Scientists Who’ve Been on The Big Bang Theory, Photo Credit: http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory/photos/page/9/

All I’ve learned about thermal dynamics could be contained in a very tiny book. I’ve picked up a few things by osmosis because my hubby is a mechanical engineer and also because I like to watch The Big Bang Theory. It’s a very educational show. Or is it? If you don’t know for sure, then it could be classified as Schrodinger’s TV show. It could be a good show or a bad one, but until you turn it on and see for yourself, it must be classified as both – or neither. (I learned all about Schrodinger’s Cat from the Big Bang Theory. It has proved to be valuable information. Or has it?)

You can now understand how kind and merciful I was to my husband by not starting up this type of conversation with him at 3 o’clock in the morning. After dinner, no such mercy was extended. We had a stimulating conversation about whether or not the sonic booms from the 2 side boosters and the center core booster, which crashed, could have been responsible for the increase in creakiness of our house that night.

I wondered if sound waves could have gone out in concentric circles and had an effect on our house. Could this be related to the sonic booms? Also, the more we talked about it, the more my mind wandered to Sonic Drive-In Restaurants, even though I have never been to one. I kind of got in the mood for a milkshake but it was too late so I settled for a dish of ice cream and an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Bob, tired from the night before, just went to bed.

Invasion of Midges

When from the next room I heard a television reporter talking about the invasion of Midges in the Sanford, Florida, waterfront area, my first thought was – what took them so long.

Poor Midge, Barbie’s not-so-glamorous best friend, has been in Barbie’s shadow forever. To make things worse for her, she has mostly been out of production since the late 1960s. They just pull her out for anniversary editions or whenever Barbie needs a side-kick. It was just a matter of time before all those jilted Midges joined forces and attacked. I’m sure they hold a lot of angst. In my mind I pictured droves of the dolls, some headless, some naked, coming out of the water and attaching themselves to whatever they could find. I’m sure they were driven to it.

 

 

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Midge’s hair never achieved symmetry and her bangs were always too short. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

 

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I believe this looks like a mug shot. Notice once again how Midge’s hair just wouldn’t do what Barbie’s does, i.e. achieve perfection. (Photo Credit: RubyLane)

 

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Barbie from around the same era. Even though her hair is pulled back and she’s clearly going swimming, she looks perfectly coiffed. (Photo Credit: Mattel)

 

As I moved to view the television, I learned that these Midges are not the Midges besieging Sanford. The Sanford Midges are often known as Blind Mosquitoes and are not manufactured by Mattel. They are also not as easy to get rid of as Mattel’s Midge. You just can’t discontinue the manufacture of these pests (again, I’m talking about the insect).

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

 

 

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

I want to encourage people in Sanford and everywhere else where Midges are a nuisance to hang in there. At least these guys don’t bite or carry disease. I guess they have that in common with Mattel’s version.

Six Weeks of Sisters

I have two sisters and so does Bob. Bob and I have been married for over four decades, so that makes one sister per decade. As I write, I realize that this could get confusing to me when Bob and I reach our golden anniversary. I’m not planning on adding any more sisters at this point in my life, so I’m going to let it go. I won’t remember the inconsistency when that time arrives anyway.

You may be asking – what does one sister per decade mean? Do different sisters represent different decades? Do I have a point here? The answers are – no and no. For some reason I just found it interesting that the number four repeated itself in this fashion. And, in case you have one more question haunting you, I don’t have any interest in numerology either. I’m just a little strange. That probably answers your next question.

None of our sisters lives in Florida. I see my sisters fairly regularly, largely because my mom lives here, but it has been four years since I’ve seen Bob’s sisters. That is just plain wrong, but that’s life in the big city. (Actually, one lives in a small town, but that’s life there, too.)

When you get to spend time with all of these sisters in a six-week span, that’s something to celebrate. The first to arrive was my younger sister, Linda. She came in mid-March and you can read about our beach exploits here (and I don’t care what Bob says, it still counts as a sting operation). Being as she is my only younger sibling, I have that big-sister thing going with her. Interestingly, whenever I’ve been talking to Linda, Bob can tell as I slip into mixing up her name with my daughter Dena’s name. I guess that’s telling.

Mount Dora Segway Tour

Allow me to segue, or should I say segway, to Bob’s sisters. They live up north so just being outside in the Florida sunshine was a treat. We did a segway tour of nearby Mount Dora with them. Bob and I have done this tour before and even with my lack in the coordination department, I have no problem with this. All of their concerns about riding one quickly went out the window. They had a great time. Bob’s younger sister especially – I thought she was going to try to abscond with hers. She had the kid-on-Christmas-morning look on her face – pure joy.

My older sister and her daughter are here with us now. They are doing the full tourist thing. We just returned from the beach today. We have family with us for 12 days in April. When the last of them leave on Saturday, I have big plans for a nap.

Daytona Beach

But, these six weeks of sisters have been the best. You throw a niece, a daughter, four grandchildren and a dog into that family from out of town mix, and it just gets better, though a tad bit crazy and crowded. It’s family. It’s all good.

 

This is Post #25 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Wildlife Weekend

I’m a bit of a birder – not quite a “Big Year” type, but I have the Peterson Field Guide to Birds app on my phone and I try to keep my life list up. Binoculars are always on the ready by my back door.

My mother bequeathed me with this passion and we love to bird watch together. Twenty minutes from our home is the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. It usually takes us three hours to do the 11-mile drive at a maximum of 10 mph. We stop a lot. You just can’t help yourself. There’s so much to see.

The drive is part of the successful effort to restore beautiful Lake Apopka, which is northwest of Orlando, and home to 369 species of birds, though some are quite literally snow birds. It’s a big winter migration area.

Today, the wildlife drive really lived up to its name. Mom and I spent the morning there, and we agreed it was the best day we’ve ever had on the drive. We identified 24 different species of birds, witnessed an alligator turtle laying eggs, and observed more American alligators than you can shake a stick at. Note: Don’t shake sticks at alligators or feed them. It’s against the law.

 

These beautiful flowers grow in the water.

 

Baby Gallinule

 

You can tell it’s springtime. There were baby gallinules everywhere. Here’s a family portrait.

 

I always find a gator in this particular spot. Today as we pulled up there was a woman taking pictures of the babies. Do you see them? There were five altogether but only four are in this pic. At first we didn’t even notice that mama had her eye on us.

We had never been to the drive during alligator mating season. It began a couple of weeks ago. Their gestation period is 65 days, so I guess this mama got an early start. Since we’re talking about alligators here, it brings more meaning to the fact that they are fiercely protective of their babies. When we saw the babies, we knew she must be close by so we were happy to spot her from a safe distance.

 

Great Blue Heron

 

Gator grabbing lunch

You know how you can be out in the wild and hear something and turn to discover you’ve just missed a spectacular moment? Well, we saw the spectacular moment. We were standing along the shore when this alligator leaped out of the water and caught a bird. I think he leaped from below and snatched it on his way up. We saw most of his white underbelly. It was quite violent and really cool. I snapped this picture right after the jump. You can see the poor bird in his jaws.

 

Anhinga drying its wings.

Anhingas swim through the water with their head and neck poking out of the water. They look like a snake, hence the nickname Snake Bird. They’re also called water turkeys. They’re beautiful in flight.

Cutest Bird Award goes to the Black-Necked Stilt

 

The green is so vivid that you almost don’t notice what’s lurking just under the surface.

Is the north side of the gator where the moss always grows?

 

Here’s a close-up of our camo-gator.

We heard a lot of gators bellowing. At first I thought it was a bullfrog, then I remembered it was mating season. We were on alert because these big guys can be submerged right in front of you and you not know it. On the drive, food is aplenty, and I’ve never seen anyone harass or feed a gator, which I have witnessed in other areas of Florida. Don’t feed the gators! It is a felony and makes them lose their fear of people and start to look at them as a food source. It’s funny to think they fear us. If a gator offered me food, I’m pretty sure I’d think it was up to something and fear it more!

Pretty sure this is a White Ibis. The bill being dark on the end makes me doubt a little.

 

Alligator Turtle laying eggs by the side of the road. I think she’s pretty ugly and maybe not too smart. People were right next to her. But I guess when it’s time, it’s just time.

 

Another Great Blue Heron. He just took a bath and was cute and fluffy.

I hope you enjoyed going on the drive with me. Any birders out there? I’d love to hear from you.

 

This is Post #14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

Another Public Service Announcement for Fans of Florida

It’s a little bit safer to traipse around in the swamps in South Florida today. A 17-foot python was hunted and killed down in Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades a few days ago. I try to keep abreast of things that can squeeze the life out of you, like The I-4 Ultimate Project, phone solicitors, and big snakes. I know how you depend on me for just such information!

The problem with this invasive species is huge, like the snakes themselves. Interestingly, the increase in this snake’s population in South Florida is linked to Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992. Along its path were several exotic pet stores. When they were leveled, the pets found a suitable home in the swampy jungles of South Florida and have continued to devastate our native species while increasing their presence in the way that birds and bees and snakes do.

Florida is aggressively fighting this problem. There are even Python Elimination Programs, but in case you’re wondering SFWMD (South Florida Water Management Department) is not currently accepting applications for new participants.

They are getting very scientific in their battle against the Burmese Pythons. Tracking devices are implanted in male pythons (another job I wouldn’t want) to lead the trackers to breeding females. This 17-foot mama had 73 developing eggs inside of her.

 

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Photo credit: Big Cypress National Preserve/FaceBook

Despite the possibility of being strangled by a python, attacked by an alligator, injured by venomous toads, swarmed by mosquitoes, or literally driven crazy on I-4, I still find Florida a pleasant place to live. As they say though, I live in Florida under one condition. Air condition. If you come to visit, please leave your exotic reptiles at home and enjoy your stay.

 

This is Post #10 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.