Ramblings About Autumn in Florida

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Many of my readers are aware that I have permanently relocated to Florida in the USA. People from the northeastern parts of the USA often think of Florida this time of year because of our warm, sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and numerous attractions like Disney World and Kennedy Space Center.

Having lived most of my life “up north,” I have some observations to share about Fall in Florida.

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Ramblings by the Pool

It is a leisurely, warm, sunny day here in Southwest Florida. I am sitting by the pool while savoring a steamy mug of coffee. I recently found a great Hazelnut Cream java which is an excellent morning cure-all elixir. Although it is good, it isn’t quite as superb as the perfected European cappuccinos I have found in my travels.

My house is at the intersection of two canals. Boats go by on their way to the Caloosahatchee River between Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida. The river leads to the Gulf of Mexico. Later in the day, I will see the boats and their crew return from today’s water adventures.

The canals attract all sorts of birds and fish often jump in an arch out of the water. Sometimes the canals have wandering manatees or an occasional lost alligator! Iguanas reside in a tropical tree next to my pool. One just jumped out of the tree and landed with a thump on the dock. Often when the iguanas are scared, they take refuge in the canals too.

There is a gentle breeze today coming from the south. The 35′ palm trees that encircle my lot are swaying and the birds are singing. The bird sounds have recently changed as the birds from winter have appeared to leave. As the weather is now clearly getting warmer the bird sounds have also become more tropical sounding.

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It is another beautiful day in paradise.

It’s Raining Iguanas in Florida

IMG_3157“The sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little. Well, not quite the sky falling but here in Southwest Florida there is a unique twist when it gets cold.

Iguanas are cold blooded reptiles that have invaded Florida. They are quite at home when it is hot. But when it is cold below 50°F (10°C), they get lethargic and fall out of trees!

This unique situation is even forecast by the National Weather Service in the United States!

This can be as critical as a hail storm (or maybe more so) as some male iguanas are up to 7 feet (213 cm) long and weigh up to 17 pounds  (7.7 kg)!

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Anchors Aweigh – A Christmas Boating Adventure

A surreal night-time image at the Christmas boat parade at Matlacha

Last evening I experienced my first Christmas boat parade. It was off Matlacha Island in the “Sunshine State” of Florida in the USA.

Previously, I have written blog stories about Coconut Pete and the Turtle Races, and the Parade of Mermaids which originate from this speck of land (population 620) just off Florida’s southwest coast.

Not quite in the Gulf of Mexico, this small, one stop light village of Matlacha continues to warm ones heart with innovative slices of local lore, tradition, and Americana. This story is about my experience at Matlacha’s Christmas boat parade.

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More Critters in My Florida Backyard

Almost a year ago I wrote a story “Discovering the Critters in My Backyard.” It is about the famous “Burrowing Owl,” the official bird of the city of Cape Coral in Florida, USA. I now live in a new place in Cape Coral which is adjacent to a canal and a new critter has now shown up.

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Green Iguana in my Backyard

There are many canals in this community and in them one can routinely see fish jumping and occasionally a larger creature such as a Manatee! Two days ago I discovered a Green Iguana sunning himself on the seawall in my backyard outside the screened pool area.

This story is about the Iguanas which are now found throughout Southwest Florida.

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Splinters in the Dock, My Boating Instruction Experiences

A few months ago while visiting my friend Coconut Pete in Cape Coral, Florida, I decided that I wanted to learn how to operate a motor boat. I also decided that I would tackle this bucket list item on the Florida coast rather than a mountain lake near my apartment in Asheville, North Carolina.

My friend Pete owns a boat. This story is about my adventure learning to captain his twin engine Hurricane.

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The Conch Horn Sounds at the Mermaid Parade

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Young and Old Dress in Their Costumes 

Even on the darkest of days one can find amusement and a smile in Matlacha Island,  Florida, USA.

I have found little amusements around the world. In Portland, Oregon, “Voodoo Donut” contributes to “America’s Capital of Weird” and in Panhans, Lower Austria, “Nude in the Sauna” creates a totally unexpected surprise.

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More Local Onlookers Dressed for the Mermaid Parade

Recently, I have written about Coconut Pete and the Turtle Races which also provides a lot of laughs on Saturday evenings at Bert’s Bar and Grill in Matlacha, Florida.

Yesterday, I ventured to Bert’s to once more watch the turtle races only to find they had been cancelled because across the street the “Parade of Mermaids” was taking place.

This story is about the fun, annual costume contest featuring contestants as well as onlookers in Matlacha.

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Discovering the Critters in My Backyard

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Cape Coral Burrowing Owl

As a youngster growing up in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania, seeing “critters” in the backyard such as rabbits, squirrels and occasionally a deer was commonplace. It just seemed to me that almost everyone had critters of some sort in their backyard.

Having traveled many places in the world and observing different animals, I developed an appreciation for the diversity of wildlife on every continent. Few animals are the same around the world. But they certainly are interesting. Everywhere there are new critters to discover and enjoy. This story is about discovering the Cape Coral Burrowing Owl.

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Enjoying Mediocrity with Coconut Pete at the Turtle Races

In the 1960’s there was a popular television series called The Beverly Hillbillies. In it Uncle Jed, a poor mountaineer, lived a peaceful, mediocre life in the mountains before striking it rich one day. That day was when “Texas Tea” bubbled up from his ground when he was shootin’ at some food. On moving to “Californy”, he and his family found a whole new world of swimmin’ pools and movie stars.

IMG_0906Similar to the Hillbillies, my good friend “Coconut Pete” moved to Florida where he found a whole new life in which he could go back in time to a simpler way of living the way Florida used to be.

One of his favorite hangouts is “Bert’s Bar and Grill” in Matlacha where every Saturday evening turtle races are held. This is my story about Coconut Pete’s favorite saying “enjoying mediocrity” and the turtle races at Bert’s.

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