A Walk on the Beach

My beach is a river beach. It does not feel the gentle southern breezes that
waft over the Gulf of Mexico, unlike  this beach
on Sanibel Island in Florida, which does.
When I look over the water, the far shore I see is a small Ontario dairy farm. I don't see million dollar apartments owned by billionaires in Naples.
Their  luxury towers look like tiny lego blocks  defining adult play along the horizon. That's not what I came to see though. This is:
This incredibly artful arrangement is by Nature. And it changes every minute or so of every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year
...you get the picture.
These are creatures and tiny treasures I don't have on my beach.
They're worth travelling 1000's of miles to see.
Some things you can hardly see...

...like this lovely little plover who blends so perfectly, she's almost invisible. Or the small flock of gulls who instinctively turn into a soft gray and white cloud hiding in plain sight on the beach from the eagle's eye overhead.
This jelly fish is the ultimate surprise on the beach ...it just sits there, looking phlemgy and disgusting. Step on it? Never! Providing I see it first that is.
On my river beach, the jelly fish wouldn't win the ugly competition, although they are green and slimey.

A twig on the edge of the beach moved. Not a twig after all.
Ah, Nature, you are so clever!
A beach is a place where I can get lost and find myself.
By looking without, I become calmer within.
It is the small things that bring the most joy.

It doesn't have to twinkle above you for you to make a wish.


Bird Bliss

This little Eastern Phoebe looks out over the Florida Everglades. He is one of the least fancy birds that millions of people flock to see here every year. They come to see creatures like this...
...the  stunningly beautiful Purple Gallinule- I noticed it, and it's  a Life Bird (!), but most of the people were here to see Alligators:

They, of course, are sensational, in a primordial sort of way. And they all appeared to be smiling. Perhaps because they were so full.
I hear Tourist a la l'Orange is a local favourite of the 'gators.
While tourists lined the paths to watch these creatures not move, I found another life bird...

The Anhinga is also known as the Water Turkey, as it swims under water, fishing away. Once it catches its fill, it hops up on to a branch, and spreads its wings to dry out. Having no oil glands to help keep the feathers bouyant, it has to dry out frequently or it will sink...
They're stunningly beautiful, and will hold a pose long enough for you to take several shots of its striking black and white wings, and its long tail feathers...just like the turkey's.
The tourists like this bird quite a lot. In fact, I doubt if they even noticed this one! Another life bird!

I flew over 2000 km to meet this White Ibis, who promptly jumped up on the bench and asked me for some nuts. Scaring me half to death in the process!

There are so many birds in abundance here...makes me ever so glad
I came  to the Everglades.


Morning is Breaking

While I may be slightly winter weary, I must admit that daybreak on the icy river stops me cold.
I breathe the gathering light and hold it within.
The ice is beginning to move, pushing back against the beach, staking its claim along the frozen ridges.

It won't win. Spring will come. Water will flow.


My Blood Runs Cold

The water belongs to the Ottawa River. The ice is 2 feet thick.

It's cool place to hang about.
Very, very cool.

He's waiting and watching.
Someone's going to jump.
The water temperature hovers at freezing, and hypothermia begins almost immediately.
Outer extremities being to tingle as soon as they hit the water. Not just the fingers and toes either.
This is not a leisurely swim. This is a Polar Bear Dip.

34 wild and crazy Canadians enjoyed the frigid waters last Saturday in Pembroke
...and the hot tub after the jump.

For their efforts, they received a free lunch. Chile of course.
And the Diabetes Association received over $6000 that the jumpers raised through pledges.
It was awesome!


Miss Peacock in the Conservatory with the Camera

Allen Gardens Conservatory inspires wonder and not a little mystery. On a chilly winter's day, it looks quite fragile. But on the contrary, there is strength in structure, especially when form follows function. In this case,
a very elaborate place to keep plants.
Very nice plants too as it turns out.

If it's an oasis you crave, look no further.

A bit of tropical air, with a hint of delicious spice?

The air is dripping with nectar as the plants begin to blossom...

Their beauty draws you in, and holds you, holds you...

And just as you begin to think, "I'm satisfied", you turn the corner.
...and you are consumed by green. This is what verdant means.

This is why Leda loved to bathe in the Eurotas River, where Zeus saw her and metamorphasized into a white swan so she would love and protect him.
Their union produced Helen of Troy.

This is a place of magic and mystery and golden scaled fish. 
A place where winter can disappear, and you didn't have a clue that it could.


Conserving Heat

When it's -15C and you're getting just a tad tired of winter,
then it's time to head to the tropics.
In Toronto, that means heading to the Allen Gardens Conservatory,
a downtown Victorian glass palace filled with summer.
The five crystal rooms of the conservatory are filled with tropical plants, cactus, succulents, and all manner of lovely, sweet smelling flowers.
I learned of this treasure through a blog that I follow
called Living on the Edge, http://caro-on-the-islands.blogspot.com/
Thanks Carolyn!

I've become a big fan!

Enjoy other worldy sights at http://skyley.blogspot.com/


These Frosted Flakes are Grrrrrreaaaat!

Every once in a blue moon, you come up with an idea that people just buy into. You put it out there, and BAM! it catches on, ignites the spirit, and is an immediate success. It’s a feel good kinda wanna clap your hands like a little kid sort of thing. And it happened here to me and my staff this past week.

The idea? To hold the 1st Annual Parade of Snowmen as part of the local winter festival that we are responsible for organizing.

What if we have a bunch of plywood snowmen templates made? Then provide them to clubs, organizations, businesses, and institutions for free, to decorate however they want? Let them choose a favourite charity, and hold an online silent auction for the works of winter art, with all proceeds raised going to charity?
And then hang’em from the lampposts in downtown? (author's aside: thus creating the largest mass hanging ever in Canada)
And its thumpity, thump, thump, look at Frosty go!!
So, that’s what happened - except that there must have been some magic in the air that day: all of the plywood was donated, the cost of hanging the snowmen (requiring the services of a tree trimming company and their cherry picker for several hours) was also donated, and the snowmen flew out of here in flash, all 20 of them whisked out the door just about the time they came through the door.
It’s really and truly amazing. And it’s what I love about small towns. When "they" decide something is worthwhile, then you sit back and watch miracles happen.
The Silent Auction is running until Feb. 28th so I'm not sure how much money will be raised, but already, it’s got the entire town talking and I know these snowmen are going to create a lot of jolly, happy souls.

Thumpity, thump, thump, thumpity, thump, thump over the hills we go!

Here's a few of the parade participants...to see them all, visit http://www.pembrokefestivals.com/