Hurricane Ian came ashore just over two months ago near Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida. Favorite vacation and seasonal destinations such as Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island, and Matlacha were devastated. Nearby communities of Punta Gorda and North Port which were in the path of the category 4 storm were drenched with unrelenting rain and extreme winds nearing 150 miles per hour.
In my other blog stories, I often went somewhere to “feel” the story so it could be written with authenticity. The difference in this story is that in this adventure, Hurricane Ian cameto me. At least 146 people perished in this massive storm.
Author note: with my appreciation, the photos used in this story were taken by several people including Bri Barker, Nathan Wood, and myself. Published photos were provided by The Free Press, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and The Indianapolis Star.
Fort Myers, Florida, is a small city in the United States of America. When I was a child, my memory of it was where the Pittsburgh Pirates conducted their professional baseball “Spring Training.” The Pirates have long gone north on the Gulf of Mexico coast to Bradenton, Florida.
Previously, I have written blog stories about wacky events in Southwest Florida such as the Mermaid Parade and the Turtle Races. But on a wacky scale for local events, the races at the Cape Coral Cardboard Boat Regatta vie for first place.
Florida has an abundance of curious animals. I have written about underground-living Burrowing Owls and the prehistoric-looking Green Iguanas that have been in my neighborhood in Cape Coral, the Florida city where I live. Along with common rabbits and grey squirrels, a new critter has shown up at my house… a gopher tortoise.
It seems to me that there are several sequels in the world today. Batman, Spiderman, Rocky, and so on have more to offer based on an original production. Last year I wrote a story titled “It is Raining Iguanas in Florida” when it is below 50 degrees F.
But after posting this very story on Facebook today, I decided to memorialize it in order to share with my friends around the world who get a glimpse of what I am observing only through my blog that they subscribed to. As the title of this story indicates, this story is more information about pre-historic looking iguanas falling out of trees in Florida.
This is what I posted on Facebook:
It is cold today here in SW Florida. When the temperature drops below 50°, like today, iguanas fall out of the trees. I read there is a guy on Sanibel Island loading his car with stunned green iguanas that have fallen to the ground. He is probably pretty smart. They can be eaten or turned in for a bounty! I have been told they are good on the bar-b-que.
Iguanas are an invasive species. They are not native to Florida and they are destructive and kill native animals. Did you know that Florida homeowners can legally shoot iguanas on their property without needing a license? The best place to shoot them is between their eyes! I kid you not! That is from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC)!
The FWCC also hires part-time “wranglers” to shoot green iguanas on public lands. Pay is $18 to $22 per hour. The job comes with some benefits (maybe you can take them home to eat them). I wonder if the pay rate is based on accuracy to shoot the iguanas between their eyes? Or shoot them as they run away.
Well, I am sure you are amused! Have a wonderful day.
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.
I have rarely participated in April Fools Day pranks and such. It isn’t that I have any disdain for them but I think I am not particularly creative that way. So, when I created a Facebook post about getting married again, people were caught off guard believing me as being serious! And that was key to a good April Fools Day prank.
The text of my Facebook post and the comments to it are attached later in this story. But a look at the origin of April Fools Day is in order.
Nobody is certain as to the origin of April Fools Day. Some believe it dates to the 1500’s when the French calendar used at that time was changed. The calendar signifying the start of the new year was traditionally linked to the beginning of spring. But on the new Roman calendar, the year began on January 1 just as we know it today. People who were slow to adopt the new calendar were often called “April Fools.”
The trickster tradition associated with the day began in Europe in the 1600’s and pranks began to be played. Pranks eventually stuck as a “rite of spring.” The earliest recorded prank occurred in London when people were told to go see the “washing of the lions” at the Tower of London. Of course there was no such thing but the prank continued, mostly targeting tourist visitors through the mid 19th century.
There have been numerous famous pranks throughout the years. My favorites from the 2oth century are “Harvesting Pasta” and “Buying the Liberty Bell.”
According to History.com “On April 1, 1957, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) told viewers that there had been an ‘exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop’ in Switzerland… due to the disappearance of the spaghetti weevil. The BBC showed footage of spaghetti harvesters diligently picking noodles from trees. Some viewers were upset – but some called to ask where they could find a spaghetti bush.”
In 1996, Taco Bell stirred things up a bit when they announced they had purchased the Liberty Bell and were renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.” Since then companies have taken advantage of April Fools Day as a marketing gimmick to generate curiosity which might be true.
This year, in advance of April 1, word spread that Volkswagen was changing its name to “Voltswagen” to emphasize a shift to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing. Although EV’s are the future for the company, the name change was only in jest but accomplished the intended purpose of bringing attention to the company and the EV future.
Now to my little prank. On April 1, 2021 I posted the following on my Facebook page. To some it was believable but others quickly understood it as a prank.
“I have decided to get married again. Third time is the charm, right? I really want Joshua Day to be a brother to another child so my future wife must be of child-bearing age. She also must be attractive. I am lining up nominees to become my wife. She must be between the ages of 21 and 33 and prepared to be a mom (experience as a mom is a plus). I have also decided on the name for my next child… Jake (boy) or Jakie (girl). If you, or anyone you know, wants to be a nominee, meeting my criteria, please let me know today (send a photo) as this opportunity is gone tomorrow!”
I did get several responses and the most interesting were:
Joshua Day: I think this lady is interested… does she qualify? She swears she is of child bearing age and she’s very wise.
Kristi Kimmel: You’re nuts!!!!
Mary Ellen: My Dad was always able to “get us” when we were kids.
Lynn Gregory: Be sure to get a full photo! Do not be like Henry the Eighth and see just the face portrait. Then she arrives and you yell I LIKE HER NOT!!!!!!!
Alice Etringer Gamble: OMG, that was too funny!
Elizabeth Maul: Deepest sympathies!!
Phyllis Pritts: Can’t stop laughing!
David Land: Ummmmm good lock with that!
David Deal: Nice one Barry! April fools!
Anna Vinzani Inverso: April fools, good one
In conclusion, it was a fun day with my prank consistent with April Fools Day tradition… I even got a proposal!
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.
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.