Back to Nature (Published on - March 8, 2006)
The weather outside is frightful – NOT
Photo by Rick Tremmel
A turtle suns itself while a White Ibis lackadaisically probes for food nearby.
“(A) winter storm affected parts of the Northeast from the Finger Lakes to Connecticut to Cape Cod picked up 6- to 10-inches of snow.”

“Today will be windy and cold throughout much of the Northeast with snow showers across parts of northern New England and downwind of the Great Lakes.”

“Wind chills at times throughout New England and New York State today will be in the single digits and teens.”

– The Weather Channel – Storm Watch Details. 3 March 2006,

It’s certainly not always easy to live in Florida. Some might say it’s just not worth it: The traffic, the crowded beaches, all those thunderstorms and hurricanes, and don’t forget the 90 degree temperatures, plus humidity from June through October, but here it is March and we’re enjoying 70 degree sunshiny weather with no snow plow in sight.

The grass is green in need of being mowed. The azaleas are blooming in profuse hot pinks and fuchsia, while the last cold snap sweetened the tangerines in the back yard. The live oaks are presenting in soft green lace, as if dressed for cotillion or preparing for May Day celebrations. It’s spring in Florida.

With kayaks dusted off and mounted atop the Jeep, we’d planned to take advantage of the mild spring weather. We discovered a muddy, rutted back road that could barely be seen from the main highway. The Jeep gripped down and straddled it with enthusiasm. She’d been pacing the city asphalt and choking on fumes since late fall.

Now that spring had arrived, she bolted forth for new adventure and a breath of fresh air. Eventually, the road emptied into a breathtaking expanse of open meadow and a rushing river beyond. Overhead, in an effort to woo the ladies, a male cardinal was staging quite the show. Dapperly dressed in a bright red coat, entertainment included: Emotion filled vibrato vocals, comical acrobats and stances of sheer operatic bravado.

A live oak bent to touch the river, providing a safe haven for wildlife. Spanish moss swayed gently from her branches with each breeze. A turtle sunned itself on a log, while an Ibis lackadaisically probed for food nearby. Reflections of the sky melted on the river in pools of blue satin – one moment in time.

This spring celebrate the “real” Florida. Put on your hiking boots, grab a backpack and discover yourself back to nature. If heading out alone down a deserted muddy road is not your style, there are many populated nature festivals and celebrations to participate in around our state during the months of March and April.

Check out the State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Web site,, and the Florida Wildlife Birding Festival Web site,, for listings of events in your area, such as:

• March 11: Orlando /Melbourne-Pelican Island Wildlife Festival, (772) 564-0540

• March 2006: White Springs-Suwannee River Valley Birding Festival, (877) 746-4778

• April 7-8, 2006: Thomasville-Pinewoods Bird Festival, (229) 226-2344, ext. 103

• April 20-22, 2006: Tallahassee-Wakulla Wildlife Festival, (850) 224-5950

• April 2006: Palmetto/Bradenton-Manatee County Audubon Earth Day Celebration, (941) 737-3169.

Put your troubles behind. Step outside. Touch what is real. Take a new look at the natural world around you, keeping the manmade world in perspective. Take a break, cup a handful of rich, damp soil in your hands, watch the sun sparkle upon the surface of the river, fill your lungs with a deep breath of fresh spring air.

Honor the past, embrace the present while envisioning the future. When it comes down to what really matters – where does one stand? Pause for one moment barefoot upon the natural soil beneath your feet and then walk in peace and beauty, back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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