Back to Nature (Published on - Jan. 26, 2005)
‘If you don’t like the weather right now, wait a day’
Photo by Rick Tremmel
We all know in our hearts that the sky calls to us, the clouds have stories. This is a scene at Jesse’s Landing.
“Brrrrr,” my neighbor grumbled, holding her cloak together tight-fisted and the other hand pulling at the end of a leash with her Benji-look-alike, furry companion.

“If it wasn’t for her I’d never get out.”

She paused, then speaking in a thick, up-state New York accent, added, “Thought it wasn’t supposed to be cold here in Florida! I’m a northerner and this is cold!”

She grinned and gave Brandy a pat.

The afternoon sun shafted through the studio windows giving the false impression that it was warm outside. I dreamed of beaches and blue sand shadows, of waves curling, topped with sea foam, of egrets and herons, and lizards basking, and palm trees gently swaying in the warm breeze, life in a picture postcard.

But it’s cold outside, I thought. Then I remembered what someone had said to me a long time ago after just moving to the Gulf Coast, “If you don’t like the weather right now, wait a day.”

I’ve since discovered this to be very true. Yesterday it was cold and we had the heat on. Today it is warm and we have the air conditioning on.

“If you don’t like the weather right now, wait a day.”

Recently, I read an article that instantly brought a smile to my face. It was regarding a novel approach to psychotherapy, termed: Eco-psychology. This “innovative” method suggests that humans need to get out into nature to restore emotional balance. The article stated that there’s been quite a bit of research in the U.S. to prove this theory. For many of us we didn’t need a Ph.D. or spend thousands of dollars to prove that nature is our spirit’s renewal.

Humankind can build the tallest towers and pave large swaths of earth but we all know in our hearts that the sky calls to us, the clouds have stories, the rivers play music, the trees sing and the meadows breathe.

Florida’s versatile climate rewards us with a vast diversity of natural beauty and native wildlife. Even a simple bird feeder hung from a balcony or a clean source of water will bring nature to your door. Nature is always at our fingertips. Just look to the sky. If you don’t like the weather right now, wait a day. All things change. Tomorrow will be a gentler day, back to nature.

Here’s a list of my favorite “Eco-Therapy Hot Spots.”

(Tip: Wildlife is best seen just after dawn and just before sunset.)

• Cliff Stevenson Park, 801 Fairwood Ave., Clearwater, a few blocks east of U.S. 19, north of Drew Street. Quiet, serene and one of the best birding spots in Pinellas County. A variety of land birds and water birds keep your eyes blinking. Limpkins, herons, egrets, flickers, woodpeckers, and much more!

• Honeymoon Island State Park, No. 1 Causeway Boulevard, north of Dunedin, west on U.S. 19-A on State Road 586 (Curlew Road) to the end. Hard to know where to start on this list. There’s hundreds of shorebirds in all varieties, but my favorite sightings here are the variety of terns, including common, sandwich, Forster’s, Caspian, and Royals. (Come prepared – another “stay all day” park.)

• Moccasin Lake Nature Park, 2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater, 462-6024. Just around the corner from Cliff Stevenson Park is Moccasin Lake Park with its fabulous education center, with advanced notice guided tours and “Night Walks.” This park offers a glimpse of Florida in the wild with many native plants such as beauty berry. Clear streams are lined with a variety of footprints in the sand to study, plus an assortment of frogs and insects. The staff is very helpful and knowledgeable.

• Philippe Park, 2525 Philippe Parkway, Safety Harbor, 726-2700. Roseate spoonbills, ibis, storks, egrets, herons, limpkins, rails, thousands of crabs, and a variety of land birds such as: pileated woodpecker, northern flicker, brown creeper, brown thrasher and plenty more.

• Sawgrass Lake Park, 7400 25th St. N., St. Petersburg, 527-3814. north of 62nd Avenue, west of 34th Street. Alligators (all sizes), a variety of herons and egrets, warblers, ducks, plus hundreds more species of birds, as well, golden-orb spiders and dragonflies, clear water to view fish, and it’s not uncommon to see armadillos. This park features a wide variety of native plants including, native bromeliads and orchids. It has a lookout tower. Sawgrass park is a terrific example of Florida in the wild through several different ecosystems. Take a camera, binoculars and lunch. You’ll want to spend the day!

• Ft. DeSoto County Park, southern Pinellas, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, 866-2484 (Hundreds of varieties of sea birds).

• Lake Seminole Park, 10015 74th Ave., Park Boulevard between Starkey Road and Seminole Boulevard (variety of warblers).

• Narrows Park (George McGough Nature Park), 11901 146th St. N., Largo, 587-6775. Difficult to find, near Indian Rocks Beach Bridge, western tip of Walsingham Road, turn right just before bridge (yellow crowned night herons, armadillos and a huge bee hive).

• Taylor Park, 1100 Eighth Ave., Largo. A variety of birds plus alligators.

• War Veterans Memorial Park, 9600 Bay Pines Blvd., 392-9575. Great sunsets and sunrises.

Karen can be reached at

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