Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Aug. 9, 2007)
Worth waiting for
As my brother stomped the snow off his boots at the front door, hed hand over
an arm load of wood for the fire to my father. My mother found winter nearly
unbearable so did her best to keep busy. One of her favorite pastimes was to spread
out seed catalogs upon the long smooth surface of the dining room table.
|Photo courtesy of SANIBEL ISLAND PREMIER BIRDING
|Birders get a closer look with
scopes and cameras at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife
Shed wrap an afghan around her chilled shoulders to keep warm, as she made
lists of dream plants to add to her spring and summer garden. Winter
was not officially over until the jonquils bloomed and the wild violets poked their
little heads up toward the warm spring sun. November to late March seemed a
dreadfully long time, but we were comforted that when spring arrived on the Great
Smoky Mountains it was worth waiting for.
Its August in Florida. For Floridians, the welcome rains have come and
stayed. The sky is charcoal gray for another day, whilst birds are seeking shelter
again. Hurricane season is getting serious with three named storms. And although
mosquitoes and no-see-ums find this their favorite season in Florida, residents are
wishing instead they were sipping a mint julep beside a frigid mountain stream.
So, what do we have to look forward to in August in Florida? Storms, lightning,
insects, flooding, power outages, hungry gators, West Nile virus, mold, hurricanes,
tornados, temperatures in the 90s plus and Birding & Wildlife Festivals ... oh
yeah and football! It wont be long until birders are back in their canoes,
kayaks and SUVs headed down back roads and bayous. When northerners are
dreading the next season of snow, ice and freezing temperatures Floridians will be
out and about playing. We just need to get through the next two or three months
then were home free.
August is a good time to check your equipment, clean your lenses, repair your
tent, air out the sleeping bag and search the Internet for new bargains. Get out
the guide books and life lists. Pour over the unchecked birds or animals you
havent spotted yet. Make a new list. While the storms rage outside you can be
cozy inside downloading birdy pictures, listening to birdy song recordings and
learning everything you can about destinations, habitat, behavior and special
identification markings. By October there are a host of festivals planned for the
remaining year of 2007 and the winter and spring of 2008. Here are just a few:
Oct. 6, 2007: The Florida Black Bear Festival is a free one-day educational
event for families and folks of all ages. Cadwell Park in Umatilla from 9 a.m. to 4
p.m. Live music, field trips into bear habitat in the Ocala National Forest, expert
speakers, Florida authors and engaging childrens activities are just some of
the ways youll learn about Ursus americanus floridanus the Florida
black bear. Tasty foods and bear-oriented vendors fill out the bill. Call
407-323-1298 or visit www.floridablackbearfest.org.
Oct. 6, 2007: The Sixth Annual Florida Panhandle Birding and Wildflower
Festival 2007. There will be field trips, boating trips, lectures, a shrimp boil
and more. Organizers will post and send out the completed schedule and more general
information including registration when it becomes available. St. Joseph Bay
Preserves Center, 3915 County Road 30-A, Port St. Joe. Call 850-229-179. E-mail
questions to email@example.com. Visit www.stjosephbaypreserves.org/birdfest.htm.
Oct. 12 through 14, 2007: The 9th Annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife
Festival anchored at Curry Hammock State Park, MM 56.2, Marathon. Call the Key Deer
Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at 305-872-0774 or Curry Hammock State Park at
305-289-2690. Visit www.keysbirdingfest.org.
Oct. 8 through 14, 2007: Sanibel Island, Ding Darling Days,
Sanibel Islands Premier Birding Festival and Eco-event. Birding, nature
cruises, kayaking, and biking opportunities abound during Ding Darling
Days birding and eco-festival. Recreational events take place at J.N.
Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, host of the 18th annual event,
which runs concurrently this year with the 75th Federal Duck Stamp Contest. Call
J.N. Ding Darling NWR at 239-472-1100, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dingdarlingdays.com/index.html
If Floridians can just get through to October, the Florida fall and winter are
definitely worth waiting for... back to nature. For more information on Birding
& Wildlife Festivals in Florida go to: www.nbbd.com/fly/festivals.html and www.floridabirdingtrail.com/events.htm.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.