Warm Places

With sunlight wan and thin here in the Northern hemisphere, this may be a good time for images from warmer places.

For two years running – in 2010 and 2011 – I left ice-cold New York behind and flew south to Fort Myers, midway up Florida’s Gulf coast. It was delightful! Between forays to well-known places like Everglades National Park and Sanibel Island, I roamed the region in a rented car with an eye out for ordinary local scenes. The best part of traveling to my mind is the serendipity of unexpected discoveries, and the discoveries that excite me the most are found in everyday, quotidian spaces, where locals engage in activities unique to the place, buildings display an unpretentious native style, and objects seem to speak a local dialect.

Florida gave up many such surprises – the restaurant with seven vultures hunched on the roof and a vintage pink Mercedes parked in front, the local man fishing atop a precarious mangrove root sticking out of the water, a humble block of pastel vernacular housing just outside the Everglades, a small cemetery hidden away in the dense foliage…

All ordinary in their place, but new and wondrous to my eyes.

The flora and fauna did not disappoint either. I feasted on tall palms and wide beaches, Roseate spoonbills and snowy egrets…but I gave a wide berth to the alligator crossing a sandy, one lane road I was driving. No need to tempt fate. Use the zoom.

Here’s a selection of images from those trips.

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***

The Photos:

  1. Nine-armed Sea Star (Luidia senegalensis) at Sanibel Island beach. This video shows one slowly crawling back to the water in Naples, an hour north of where I was.
  2. Parking lot palm fronds, near the Fort Meyers airport.
  3. U Pick Citrus sign, Lee County. Once you get away from the coast you find the agriculture. Cattle, goats, chickens, bees, oranges, vegetables – there are hundreds of farms in Lee county; there were 844 farms listed in 2012.
  4. a, b c & d: Scenes from Smallwood’s Store, an historic general store built over the water on an island at the edge of the Everglades. The store is now an informal museum devoted to early life in the area, displaying items like a child’s schoolwork and a bedroom arranged as it may have looked in the 1930’s. Hurricane Irma did some damage this year, but the store is standing and repairs are planned.
  5. A produce market in Immokalee – cheap and local, what could be better? Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc here. The authorities were apparently more interested in policing the wealthier coastal areas than protecting residents in Immokalee, many of whom are undocumented farm laborers and their families, from Haiti and Latin America.
  6. a, b: Evidence of a previous fire disappears quickly in the dense vegetation; a market stand after a rain shower at Immokalee.
  7. All dressed up and nowhere to go? The four inch Lubber grasshopper (Romalea microptera) moves slowly for a grasshopper. Unlike most we’re familiar with, it walks and climbs more often than itΒ  jumps. These charmers can spit a spray of toxic chemicals when threatened. They damage crops and are controlled by picking them off, setting traps, and using insecticide. Here are some creative ways locals have dealt these critters a blow or two.
  8. An unidentified mix of Florida plants.
  9. An alligator that I braked for.
  10. A Great blue heron and a fisherman share space amicably on Sanibel Island.
  11. a & b: Sanibel scenes – Willets (Tringa semipalmata) probe for insects and other goodies along the waves’ edge. Sanibel is known world wide for its abundant shells.Β 
  12. A handsome group of White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) next to a shopping mall in Fort Myers.Β  Look closely and you can see a gray youngster in the background.
  13. A Brown pelican perched on a piling in Everglades City. These big birds can have a 6.5 foot (200cm) wingspan. They make dramatic plunge dives for fish, unlike the even larger American white pelican, which catches fish by dipping its pouch-shaped beak in the water while swimming.
  14. a, b, c & d: Local scenes, including a man fishing at dusk from a precarious perch on a mangrove thicket at Rookery Bay, a roadside check cashing establishment, and a heron/egret roost at dusk.
  15. A family barbecue at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/ Ten Thousand Islands. There used to be hermits living in the Ten Thousand Islands/Everglades area. I don’t know if there are any left, but a local high school class wrote about them back in 1980.
  16. A congregation of alligators, Everglades National Park. (Yes, a congregation is what you call a group of gators!). The American alligator is at the southern edge of its range in the Everglades; the American crocodile reaches its northern limits there.
  17. Seen at the airport. Fill in the tag line, please! πŸ™‚
  18. Homes in Everglades City, population 402 in 2013. The link is to an interesting NY Times article about this historic, out of the way little town.
  19. The Depot Restaurant in Everglades City, with an old pink Mercedes in the lot and a venue of vultures (really, that’s what a group of vultures is called!) on the roof. There were more vultures by the garbage cans out back. This restaurant is now closed.
  20. An old cemetery outside Fort Myers. Poring over a map, I noticed a “Cemetery Road” on the outskirts of a small town. I figured it must lead to a cemetery, probably an old one. It looked out of the way and intriguing, so I drove there. It was a great find and I enjoyed reading the old headstones, observing the mementos placed on graves, and photographing. This man died in 1981. Thirty years later, someone had left a handful of flowers on his grave.
  21. A spontaneous collage. I placed a plant fragment (Tillandsia fasciculata) I picked up on the map I was using, and photographed it. Most of the places I explored are visible on this piece of the map.
  22. A roadside scene in Everglades City.
  23. Looking up into a Royal palm (?) (Roystonea regia) near Edison Park in Fort Myers.
  24. Another mix of tropical flora.
  25. a & b: A Great blue heron and a Snowy egret. Both are common in Florida.
  26. Birders scope a flock of Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger) at Bunche Beach Preserve. The Black skimmer is one of my (many!) favorite birds. It’s lower mandible is longer than the upper mandible so it just drops its jaw, as it were, and skims food from the surface of the water (link to photo). Of course, this requires the ability to fly steadily just at the surface, making them really fun to watch.
  27. Beautiful Bunche Beach Preserve hearkens back to the old Florida, before rampant building obliterated so much land. Volunteers tore out all the invasive species here. A tidal wetland with beaches, inlets, and mangrove forests, the preserve is known for great birding. Fresh raccoon tracks marked the edge of this inlet.
  28. Spectacular little Sanibel Island is very scenic, but the town can be crowded.Β  As I write, it’s 73 degrees there. It’s 36 degrees here. ) – :
  29. A roadside sunset outside Immokalee. Immokalee is an agricultural center, and is home to many immigrants who work fields of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and citrus. The name means “My Home” in the Mikasuki language of the Miccosukee people. After being pushed out of their original territory, a small group of Miccosukee managed to resist resettlement in Oklahoma by escaping to the Everglades, where they adapted to the unique environment. A road built in 1928 signaled the beginning of assimilation; since gaining US government recognition as an Indian tribe, they have built a golf club and gaming resort, and an “Indian Village.” On this day it had just rained and then the sun came out, setting the road on fire. A fitting end to a stay in Florida.

 

 

 

 


87 comments

    • There’s no shortage of birders in Florida! I really enjoyed seeing all the herons and egrets, etc., I love those warm places. Best to you in 2018, too, Jo, thank you for being here.

  1. It was fun to see what you saw in Florida, Lynn. You probably didn’t see any flamingos, though. What you did see, probably, is a related bird, the roseate spoonbill. Here’s a link on flamingos: https://www.livescience.com/27322-flamingos.html. And here’s one on roseate spoonbills: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/roseate-spoonbill. I saw some spoonbills at the Celery Fields Sunday, but they were too far away for me to photograph so that anyone could tell. Please come back. Fort Meyers is only about two hours away from me.

    Your congregation of alligators is great! I usually don’t see so many all together. And isn’t it funny how Floridians decorate with snowflakes around Christmas?

    • What a mistake that was! So embarrassing…I do know the difference, and I fixed it. Thanks for letting me know. I saw Spoonbills at dusk at Ding Darling Refuge – also in the distance, but they were a gorgeous haze of warm, peachy pink. Glad you liked the alligators – that was easy though, it was taken from an elevated boardwalk in the Everglades. When I was about 17 and visiting my grandparents one Easter on an island off the Georgia coast, I borrowed their car & wandered around looking for, well whatever. At a deserted little pond I came across a single, huge alligator with nothing between us – that was different. Time to get close to the car to be ready to jump back in…
      I would love to visit…it’s a long flight from here, but who knows, maybe I’ll make it back to the area sometime when you’re there. That would be great!

      • Oh, no, I didn’t want to embarrass you! I only learned recently that the reason I never saw flamingos down here is that there aren’t any. Just thought I’d pass it on. Sorry for sounding like a know-it-all.

  2. A wonderful album, as always – -the pickup engulfed in shrubbery, little pink house, gators, and the foliage shots. I had no idea all those Presidents found their way down to that little Rod & Gun club. Three feet above water, I hope it’s still there in a few years so I can visit, and the oldtime Smallwood’s store, I love stuff like that.
    The white ibis are handsome – – I was plagued by black ibis, when I was teaching in Chile, at night they’d fight on the rooftop next to me and keep me awake, but the white ones look much nicer and more peaceful.
    That final shot is amazing, too, just tangerine-saturated!

    • I think the White ibis aren’t as likely to bother people, but at breeding time, near a rookery…I’ve seen heron/egret/ibis rookeries in the south, and they can be very noisy, and smelly! πŸ˜‰ It’s cool that you checked out the link. I only found it when putting this together – when I was there I knew nothing about Everglades City, I just came across it while exploring. There’s much to be said for that serendipity, but also much to be said for know-before-you-go. Smallwood’s store was something I did learn about beforehand and sought out – what a great place it is. You’d love it. I hope you get down there.

      • This kinda seems like a good time to go, right now! It’s probably going subzero around here next week.
        In Portsmouth, NH, at the Strawberry Banke history site, which is an old neighborhood they made into a kind of historical village, they have a mom & pop market, that’s set up like 1943, and that reminds me of Smallwood’s.
        Actually there’s a former market on Main St. in my village, that closed about the time I was born. I’ve looked in the window, walking by at night – some of the beer signs, etc. inside are still plugged in, the owners live upstairs, I guess they want it lit for security. So that’s kind of a time capsule in progress.

  3. Hi Lynn, Your series tells an enticing story, as always. I haven’t been to Sanibel for eons and your photos brought back warm memories. You found so many intriguing scenes…the Sea Star! the Congregation! (I lived on an island with alligators and didn’t know that term for them), your nature and wildlife studies are artful and your landscapes inviting. Brava! Happy New Year!

    • Hi Jane, some of these tidbits – many actually – I learn when putting the post together, e.g. congregation of alligators – so funny. I’m glad you enjoyed this little travel break. Glad this brought back some memories of Sanibel, too – such a pretty, pretty place.

  4. You do make it difficult to pick out favorites! Sadly Florida has no fond memories for me. My visits there were mostly tied up with staying with my mom near Tampa as she headed down the road to dementia. I never did get out to see any of the great stuff you picked up on your meanders. Can’t say I would have missed the alligators, but the tame birds simply blow me away. The heron right there with the guy fishing! I wonder if they shared a catch? As for #17… can’t come up with a caption (laughing too hard), but in a way it typifies a good portion of Florida!

    • I think the fisherman was giving the heron an occasional tidbit from the bait bin. Apparently it’s a regular thing, but I found that even when I drove along highways I would see birds by the side of the road that were more tame than those I see here, for the most part. Please, someone’s got to come up with a caption for that couple! I think they were waiting to greet friends or relatives coming in on a flight. I was well away from them so they didn’t see me take the picture. πŸ˜‰

  5. Wonderful set of images! Without any hesitation at all, I can say that my favourite is 8 – the colours, structures and textures simply knock me about! And the shot of the Grey Heron next to the fisherman (10) is very striking and unusual, really very good! Then the point of view of 23, the aspect of it. And, as you say, the pink limousine with the vultures high up on the roof. Lovely series. A πŸ™‚

    • So happy you like #8 Adrian, because it’s favorite of mine. I think the fisherman was tossing a tidbit from the bait box once in awhile, hence the proximity, but there were loads of other people close by as well. It was a terrific demonstration of the real stature of those herons – they are not small! I’m pleased that you point out the palm, too. I took many, many photos that day of different palm trees, many in full friut. Most of them have been lost doe to computer crashes and lost SD cards, but I have a few.

    • Anyone in a gray place would be happy to be there right about now, right Paula? πŸ™‚ There are still places where birds can be seen close up here, and that area is one of them. Even wading birds in ditches on the roadsides were less afraid than I was used to, it was fantastic.

  6. I absolutely loved Florida when I traveled there to stay with friends in my early 20’s. It is indeed a good time to think of warm places. I’ll be off the Fuerteventura in February. These are beautiful images as your images always are Lynn and it’s been a pleasure following your blog through 2017. Wishing you all the very best for 2018 and lots of opportunities for some great photography! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much Adrian, and best to you in 2018 as well. I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to. The Fuerteventura visit will be a pleasant one to do in February, won’t it?

    • Oh yes, it’s a different world. We’re rainy and gloomy in the Pacific northwest right now, too, but at least it’s not horribly icy and frigid. Glad you enjoyed the little travel break, and thanks for your comment, Richard – I’ve enjoyed your blog this year, and look forward to more in 2018.

  7. ….and here it is about 10 degrees…. You saw a far more interesting Florida than I did when last there. I visited a friend in Cape Coral, a Just-Add-Water instant community a bit to the north of where you were. Nothing but imported palm trees and manicured lawns but she loves it there so I should refrain from commenting, shouldn’t I? πŸ™‚ I’m due for another visit. Maybe I can have her take me to see some of the things you did.

    • …and 10 degrees is better than some places! Yikes! I’m sorry, but I have to say I’m glad I’m not in New York anymore. We may get a lot of rain here, but I’m not shoveling snow or dealing with a car that won’t start. πŸ˜‰ I know what you mean about those communities – really too bad you couldn’t get away for a bit while you were there. It doesn’t take much driving to find a very different Florida. She may not be up for Immokalee but surely she would love the Everglades, any one would. Another great place to see is Rookery Bay. They have sunset boat rides – not inexpensive but very, very nice. The photos of the man fishing from mangroves and the barbecuing family were taken on a boat ride from Rookery Bay. They focus on birds, which I love, but I look at everything, as you know!

      • Indeed, which makes your posts so much fun to see πŸ™‚ As you probably know, I’ve been searching for a home in the Pacific Northwest for awhile now. I’ve been shocked by what I see~the prices! I must be looking in the wrong places because there must be a spot somewhere with modest little homes an artist could afford. Like you, I’m tired of worrying whether my car will start this morning if I have to go out….maybe I can just stay inside. Til June.

  8. Cool shots! I particularly like the one with the heron and the person…love the way they echo each others shape.

    I could use a trip to Florida about now….single digit temps. I was there a few years back and took a drive through some of the Everglades. There were alligators across the channel and I got down low on my side to take a few shots. A park ranger stopped his car and said never to do that. He said if you get down low they will think you are prey and they can make it over from the other side to this one surprisingly quickly! OK, lesson learned πŸ™‚

    • Ohhh, I can easily visualize that Howard, great story. For the one on the road, I stayed next to the car, or in it – don’t remember – and the other one, with the “congregation” was taken from a boardwalk. Very safe. Stay warm!

  9. just what i need to see bright and warm and alligators which are foreign to me….it’s – 32 here in etown so now i’m going to have a beer and a sauna to warm up and sweat πŸ˜€ so nice to see your works and words…i can return and learn more…happy new year dear Lynn ❀ smiles many! cheers

  10. Good ones (again). Favorites: #8’s colors/patterns, #9 cause there’s nothing like a prehistoric critter on a contemporary road, #10 cause I’ve never seen such a tame heron and perspective make it look huge, #13, #17 cause who’d be brave enough to wear such a thing (and then probably call someone a snowflake), #19, #20, and the big finish with #29.

    • It’s interesting to know which images grabbed you, Dave, thank you. That heron was pretty tall, actually, and the man on the shorter side. πŸ™‚ Thanks again, and have a great New Year!

  11. An alternate interpretation of “The best part of traveling to my mind is the serendipity of unexpected discoveries” makes your mind the destination to which you traveled. That may be the best of all places for unexpected discoveries.

  12. I enjoyed your pictures very much. Especially Nr. 10 made me laugh – two fisher at work πŸ™‚ !! 17 is very funny, too. 21 – the patterns, you know. Nr. 7 – the grasshopper and the leave: they look like a painting. Wonderful. Alltogether beautiful, exciting and entertaining pictures. So you had a great time in a warm countryside ?

    • These were taken on two trips, back in 2010 and 2011, in January, when I lived in New York. Yes, i had a great time both times, and hope to go back there. I love tropical plants and environments. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year, Almuth!

    • I’m not in the coldest part of the US, that’s for sure, Ule. New York is really cold this week, we are well above freezing. We had a White Christmas, which is very unusual for Seattle. That was nice, but it’s gone now, and that’s OK too! It’s good having you here – I hope you have a warm and safe and peaceful New Years!

      • Thank you Lynn. All my best wishes for your new year, I’m looking forward to your essays and photographs to come in 2018. And all the best to your wonderful community too admiring and loving your work .

  13. Such a great collection here, I really can’t pick one I like the most! I do know it makes me want to visit and explore!!

  14. Escaping the cold seems particularly wise in the midst of this arctic chill we’re experiencing! I like the play between the heron and the human in #10. I like the vintage feel of #18, will definitely be checking out that link. #26 is lovely too. Happy New Year, Lynn!

    • You guys have it bad right now! I don’t know what your New Years plans are, but I hope they don’t include Times Square, or anything outdoors. So glad you like #18, that’s the feeling I was trying to get across. The colors were wonderful. Wish we were there, right? The Best New Year to you both!

      • We stayed bundled up indoors, Times Square has never been on the agenda and it seems less and less likely as we get older (and wiser?)! πŸ˜‰ Hope you had a fabulous start to the year, Lynn!

  15. Really wow.. beautiful images. They are colourful too. The heron and human sharing same space πŸ™‚ . And I am looking for more inspiring content in 2018. Have a great year ahead. Best wishes

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed them, Florida has some beautiful scenery and wildlife. Sometimes the herons and other birds tolerate humans well, it’s good to see that. I thank you for being here and wish you the best in 2018, and great traveling!

  16. Thank you for sharing your road trip. Number 8 is especially intriguing and I love the humor in 10 … the heron looks huge … the same size as the unaware fisherman. The gators … I scrolled very quickly past them! Great work and I look forward to seeing more in 2018.

    • πŸ™‚ I was safe on a boardwalk when I took the alligator photo! Glad you enjoyed the post, it’s a nice change this time of year, right? And I’m glad you like #8, I was so excited when I saw that, it must have been a storm that ripped and rearranged the foliage. Best New Year to you, Denise, thank you for your support.

  17. Beautiful photographs of a much warmer place (it’s -17 here in NY right now)!!
    I especially love the starfish. Beautifully simple and simply beautiful.
    Happy New Year to you, Lynn!

    • Lisa, I didn’t realize you were in NY, and I know it’s crazy cold there now, been that way for too long, too! We have weather in the 40’s now, typical for here. No complaints, I don’t relish the thought of scraping ice off the car and shoveling, or just dealing with the biting cold on my face. Those starfish are so pretty, aren’t they? So many wonderful things to see in Florida! Happy New Year to you, too, Lisa!

  18. What great photos! I am definitely one for warm places of cold places so I really enjoyed this post. Although I would really like to visit NYC one day.

  19. Warmth sounds good, about now. I was out and about today in the midst of sleet, snow, and icicles. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen icicles. I’d happily take any one of your views, compared to that. My travels to Florida have involved boats, so places like Key West and Pensacola are most familiar. The first time I drove to Pensacola, and then down to Cedar Key, I was astonished to find so much agriculture. Of course I associated the state with oranges, but I had no idea there were so many dairy farms and such.

    I still can’t get over how sharp your photos are. I think part of my problem with birds recently has been that they really are out of range of my lens. You mentioned some of these being close to the road, and that makes a difference. Of course, good conditions make a difference, too. It’s been so cold here, and quite windy, for the past month and a half, so even when I get out, either the birds are huddled away or I’m trying not to shiver!

    Honestly? I could be happy in that little pink house. And as for the couple with the snowflake crowns — Mr. Buffett wrote a song just for them!

    • That pink house is sweet, isn’t it? I always prefer small houses anyway. Your trips to Florida sound heavenly, especially now – but I realize you’ve got it much worse than we do these days. I’ve seen those low temps in the Houston area on the weather map, wow. I was also really surprised by all the agriculture. It’s really an interesting state, quite varied. I’d love to see the panhandle, too, and the keys, I wouldn’t mind that! As for the photos, I think some were taken with a Sony Nex 5, maybe some with a Lumix, and you’re right, those birds were standing very still. πŸ™‚ I didn’t have very long lenses, still don’t, but they’re very tame in that area. I re-processed almost every image in this post. When I want something really sharp I often use Detail Extraction in Color efex, but just a little, then tweak back in LR. These days my camera has really good image stabilization, and I think it’s helped. It would certainly take care of the shivers….stay warm!

  20. I grew up in Miami and there were many things in this post that took me back to my Florida roots. You indeed caught much of the unique flavor of the commonplace there. The shell bed photo was especially nostalgic for me. I didn’t have to check your excellent reference descriptions to know it was Sanibel. We used to vacation each Thanksgiving at Bradenton and visit Sanibel, and it was a nearly magical time and certainly has become mythical in my memory. I’ve never been to another place with such shells…hours full of wonder combing the beach.

  21. Sheri, music to my ears about catching the local flavor, since I’m certainly not a native and only visited twice. I have a feeling for the south, having vacationed throughout my childhood off the coast of Georgia, and I do love it down there. So funny that you knew that was Sanibel! I’m happy to bring back those memories…

  22. Ah, to be in a warm place right now! Thanks for taking us down south, Lynn. I love this sentence: “The best part of traveling to my mind is the serendipity of unexpected discoveries, and the discoveries that excite me the most are found in everyday, quotidian spaces, where locals engage in activities unique to the place, buildings display an unpretentious native style, and objects seem to speak a local dialect.” I would like to embrace this concept in the future, and use it in my own work. I always love your photography because you capture so wonderfully the “local dialect.” I love Iguana Produce, The Lubber grasshopper, the group of White Ibis, the Depot Restaurant with the pink Mercedes, Fred’s Drive-Thru and the congregation of alligators. Inspirational as always, Lynn. πŸ™‚

    • You’re getting slammed with the weather this year, aren’t you? There’s no doubt in my mind that you already embrace that travel philosophy, but maybe you will just do it more in the future. You really did pick the local color shots, didn’t you! It’s awfully nice to get a compliment on a sentence from a writer and a language teacher!. πŸ˜‰ Thank you so much for this generous comment, and apologies for replying so late – I was away. Happy travels, Cathy!

    • How interesting that you characterize the photos as unpretentious – I really like that, thank you. And of course, thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed them! πŸ™‚ (#8 is one of my favorites, too).


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