Did I mention that I had dinner with Santa the other night? I was at Bonefish Grill, enjoying some Bang Bang Shrimp and a tiny glass of Chardonnay, when I heard some bells, then felt a blast of Arctic air that chilled me to the bone. I turned to ask the young hostess to please close the door, and who to my wondering eye should appear, but Santa… negative the reindeer, but with his charming wife, Mrs. Santa. The Clauses “bellied” up to the bar, and we had a nice chat… I made the mistake of asking Santa where he was from, thinking, “Well maybe Cincinnati, Albany, or even Flatbush…” I was “put in my place” when Santa replied, straight-faced, “The North Pole.” Ohhhh-Kayyyyyy…. Guess I’d better re-think my wish list… but to get back on his good side, I’d like to suggest that if you need Santa to visit next season for a party, you couldn’t do better than asking for him at email@example.com . Ho Ho Ho!
Tuesday was a gift from Mother Nature. I loaded my kayak on the car’s roof rack and launched at Lake Sumter, only 3 miles from the house. This is my kayak (actually My Lovely Bride’s, but it was easier to get to than my green one) alongside a dragon boat near the hotel at Lake Sumter.
After only a few minutes paddling, there were no sounds except the wind, my paddle in the water, and the flow of water past the hull of my kayak. This is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s amazing how quickly you can leave “civilization” and still only be a half mile from a restaurant or hotel, but it seems like you’re a world away…
And then the birds started chattering. The noisiest were the American Coots (Fulica americana) that would quack to one another about my approach… “Hey, Daphne, here comes that bozo in the red kayak. Can’t he see that we’re trying to relax? That’s why we’re AWAY FROM PEOPLE!” Young coots have a bald spot on the top of their heads, which led to the expression, “as bald as a a coot.” I guess there are more than a few Old Coots around The Villages. (Okay, a minor pun intended.) Coots are not actually ducks, per se; they are more closely related to cranes.
I had to add this picture of two young coots from the Internet… they are really cute… And look at those bald spots!
If I got too close, they would take off by running on the surface of the water upwind until they developed enough lift under their wings to get themselves airborne.
There was one large group, called a raft, or cover, that I didn’t even get within 100 feet of before they spooked and resettled in another area…
And the Great Blue Heron who wouldn’t let me within 50 yards before he launched himself to reposition 200 yards away, and we repeated that cycle four or five times before he tired of the game and flew out of sight.
I tried to catch a picture of a vee formation of forty or so Sandhill Cranes overhead, but they were directly in the sun, and sadly, the picture didn’t come out. And of course there were five alligators, only one of which I got a decent glance at before he thrashed wildly and swam under my kayak. The others were sunning in the grass “islands” and would disappear in a big splash before I got within 50 feet. Based on splash size, I estimated their sizes as small to medium… between four and seven feet. 11-15 footers are big, but these were probably only youngsters. My Good Friend Bob will probably ask why I didn’t get in the water with them and wrassle… that’s because I have more sense than some of the Swamp People he watches on TV. (I suspect that The Villages gator Patrol keeps an eye on the big guys and moves them before they have a snowbird or tourist for lunch… otherwise, that would affect home sales… It was a very special day, and after an hour and a half, my lower back was telling me it was time to head home… so I paddled back to the boat launch, past our faithful lighthouse, and called it a day.
Okay, while we are having pretty decent weather here in sunny Florida, Corvette Chick is carless in Virginia and snowbound in the mountains southwest of Charlottesville. Here are a few cell phone shots of this morning’s snowfall.
This evening, she relayed that they are on generator power, and one of the lodges has no power at all, and some of the attendees are camping out in the yoga room. Here is My Chilly Bride on the roof of her building… let’s see, is she calling for a rescue helicopter? Asking for an airdrop of ice cream, hot chocolate… or more likely, a glass of German Gluhwein? We won’t know until she returns…
Stay warm, Dear!