My mother-in-law, Laura, turned 96 this week. Oh my, the stories she could tell you. With these hands, she swung a bat on a baseball team in the “League of her Own” era and rolled her way into the Bowlers Hall of Fame. Laura and her husband, Everett, also owned a local auto body paint store here in Sarasota for years (Pete’s Auto Paints) and she mixed thousands of gallons of paint!
My grandson Graham finds it easier to brush his teeth by looking at his reflection. And brushing his teeth is just one of his many ploys to stall his bedtime when Grandma is babysitting!
“Snowbirds” are seasonal, so I thought why not share a picture of some actual feathered friends who are just that. The white pelicans “winter” in Florida; they arrive in the fall and depart in the spring. They usually stay in a geographically protected area, such as a lagoon, harbor, estuary, or mangrove islands. This picture was taken off the Swordfish Grill in the Cortez Village.
Other places you may find them in Bradenton are on the bayside of Anna Maria Island and Robinson Preserve. In Sarasota, you would have good luck at Myakka State Park, the Celery Fields out Palmer Road, Benderson Park, and Sarasota Bay.
I was at a friend’s house a few evenings ago and my eye caught a framed picture on her wall. Irene hails from Erie, PA, and a friend had presented it to her. “Oh my gosh”, I said. “I took a picture of that same place!” Then I promptly reached for my I-phone to show it to her.
As my son-in-law continued his drive along the Erie waterfront, he then drove us out to the peninsula of Presque Isle. This state park is beautiful, even with gray skies. As you start the drive on the frozen bay side, you are able to view Erie’s skyline, migrating birds on the water, numerous “blinds” for hunters, a few ice fishermen, and numerous trails. We continued on and reached the lake side where waves were crashing. I asked to stop the car so I could get a few photos of Lake Erie and my grandson Ethan joined me. I didn’t linger as I took a few quick photos. While walking back to the car I commented on how unexpectedly cold it was and Ethan told me it was the “lake effect”. I asked what that meant and he said “I don’t know.” He’s only 5 and new to the area, but he’s already been hearing “lake effect” quite a bit!
I saw a splash of color, which was quite a contrast to the dark trees and white snow, and quickly took pictures of the Presque Isle Lighthouse, shown here, as we drove by.
With a “cold front” coming to Sarasota this weekend, I’m reminded of a true cold front I encountered on my first trip to Erie Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. My son-in-law took me and his family for a drive to the lakefront and I was enthralled by the sights. I had not been immersed in “winter” like this since I had moved to Florida from Minnesota as an eight year old. I know that may look like whitecaps in the background, but actually that water was frozen!
“To climb a tree is for a child to discover a new world.” Froebel
One of Sarasota’s best kept secrets is the “living” museum at the John Ringling Museum. The John Ringling Museum of Art and Ca d ’Zan (the home he built for his wife on Sarasota Bay) is the legacy that John and Mable Ringling left behind, but among the 66-acre garden of exotic trees and plants at the estate, are 14 Banyan trees which is the largest collection in Florida. Banyan trees represent some of the world’s largest tree girths and the unique growth pattern of their aerial roots and support trunks can cause them to cover an acre of ground in less that a century. I am not certain if the banyan I have pictured here is one or more!
We stumbled on this on a Monday visit to the museum and found that there is a wonderful children’s playground and picnic area that had been built just a few years ago for the children of Sarasota to enjoy for free. And aside from the man-made playground, the children enjoy climbing in the trees nearby, as well.
The Ringling Banyan was cited in the Millennium Landmark Tree Project. The following text about the project is from the America the Beautiful Fund Website:
“America the Beautiful Fund initiated the Millennium Landmark Tree project in the year 2000, with the goal of designating one historic tree in each of the 50 states for preservation in the new Millennium.
This program was supported by a grant from the US Forest Service as part of the White House Millennium Green Initiative. Individuals and their communities were encouraged to seek out the history of the trees in their area, and send a letter describing the type of tree they would like to nominate as well as any historical information pertaining to the tree.
The program was extremely successful in awakening public interest in preserving and protecting these Landmark Trees, which have stood witness to the historic growth of our country.
The Banyan Tree at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida was honored at the National Arbor Day Celebration on April 2000. The tree was given as a gift from Thomas Edison to Harvey Firestone, who gave it to John and Mable Ringling for their Florida garden to see if rubber could be produced in America.”