As a former ship driver, I spent most of my adult life on the water. Living aboard and cruising our 46 foot sailboat Liberty from the US to Canada and the Bahamas, and then across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, gave us a perspective on time, teamwork, geography and weather that most people never get. Now we land cruise in our motor coach to mountains and deserts which are generally inaccessible to sailors. But we also have kayaks, which get wet whenever we have the time, water and weather to splash them. Our closest body of water, Lake Sumter, is unfortunately off limits to kayaks. There are several small boats permanently moored on the lake for decorative purposes, and Dragon boats are allowed to use the lake on a regular basis.
This skiff moored off Lake Sumter Landing caught my eye early one morning while walking the puppies in t-o-w-n. I had been reading a book that My Lovely Bride got for me at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. The Practice of Contemplative Photography, by Andy Karr and Michael Wood, is based on spiritual lessons learned from Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche, and helps photographers learn how to look and better see texture, light and color, especially in ordinary, daily experiences and surroundings. I had never thought that Buddhist teachings and meditation could have anything to do with photography, but Suzanne and this book have helped open my eyes, just a little…
The winner of our floral photo quiz is Colette Sasina, who correctly identified the flowering banana (Musa velutina musaceae) in Wednesday’s blog.
Friday found us driving to a nearby Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for a hike and birdwatching expedition with our friends and neighbors Bob and Jan. After my experience with “The Attack of the Man-eating Chiggers”, I recommended that we all wear long pants tucked into our socks, heavily sprayed with industrial-grade bug spray. My Lovely Bride looked at me, ready for Chigger Combat, and started laughing hysterically. “Ty, you are not going out in public with your pants tucked into your socks like that. At least not with me! You look like a dork…” Well, I would rather look like a dork than be eaten alive by bugs a second weekend in a row, but I relented and reluctantly un-tucked my pants from my socks. (Brad, help me out on this one with some Forest Service regulation!)
The WMA staff foresters were doing a prescribed burn in an area through which the trail passed, so we turned around here rather than hiking through smoke and minor flames. Prescribed, or controlled, burns reduce the amount of brush that can feed a forest fire and allow certain species of trees to germinate more effectively.
A bulldozer had dozed a fire break in the dirt to keep any low flames from spreading, and workers with driptorches with a gasoline/diesel mix were spraying the dry grass and underbrush and setting it on fire. These burns are usually done in cooler weather, rather than in the heat of summer – today was in the high 60s/low 70s.
We chatted for a few minutes with one of the WMA staff, seen here in her all terrain vehicle (ATV). I am guessing that Bob might have been considering trading his four-seater golf cart in for one of these cool rides. It even has a winch on the front and a driptorch holder… much more cool than a simple cup holder.
On Tuesday, Veterans Day, we will honor those men and women who have served their country in the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, particularly those who served in combat, lost their lives or were prisoners of war or missing in action (POW/MIA). At a local memorial, a separate display honors three local men who earned the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest combat award. The young men and women who serve today in the Global War on Terror (although that name is no longer politically correct) deserve special appreciation and respect for their service in the fight against Islamist fanatics and terrorists.
Finally, I was hoping that some of the readers of this blog would don their bicycle helmets and show up for Saturday’s fundraiser bike ride, Cycling for Success. It was a brutally cold morning, down to 55 degrees F, as you can see by My Lovely Bride’s warm but still snazzy biking togs. Suzanne and I completed the ride, doing 42 and 62 miles, respectively. I think the “before and after” photos tell it all…
I was a bit of a wuss, electing to wear a windbreaker for the first 18 miles. But being a Southern boy, I am not used to winter weather (hey, it only got up to 70 today!). I was also fortunate in hooking up with a couple of fast pace lines, and was able to maintain a 19 mph average for the event. Suzanne was gracious enough not to take a photo of me after the race in my state of near-exhaustion (AKA “Death warmed over”).