Suzanne and Bev Garlipp got together recently for a big project… video taping (filming for us old-timers) of Suzanne’s about-to-be-released set of five DVDs, Let Your Spirit SOAR! The four keys to your personal breakthrough. She will put out more information on her web site, www.LoveAtTheCenter.com when the DVDs are ready for distribution, which should occur the first week in December. The DVDs and accompanying workbook are in response to numerous requests from attendees at Suzanne’s events, both here in The Villages and on our summer tour.
Okay Quizsters, here’s this week’s Geography and Flora Quiz… Look at the photo at right and identify the lumpy things in the foreground and where the photo was taken, and if your correct entry is picked from my ball cap at random, you will win breakfast at First Watch with Your Faithful Correspondent and His Lovely Bride.
This photo was taken during a walk on the local dock with our dockshounds, and provides a slightly different perspective of a flower bucket… or is it a bucket of flowers? Anyway, it was part of a self-assigned exercise from the Shamhbala Center’s Contemplative Photography book I’m reading. Your first inclination is to assume that you’re looking at a wood wall with a flower box attached, right? Wrong!
While Suzanne was doing a couple of readings, I went kayaking on Lake Miona, only a few miles from the house. It’s usually deserted, but on this day a husband and wife were launching their kayaks as I was pulling up. After a couple of Eskimo rolls, he paddled off in his whitewater playboat. These boats are very short, about 7 feet long, in comparison with our 15 foot touring kayaks. They are also highly maneuverable; a skilled paddler can do spins, enders, pirouettes and cartwheels. They are designed for surfing and playing in standing waves and holes on whitewater rivers and creeks, and typically do not travel very far from where they are playing. You will also note that the kayaker in question is wearing an industrial-strength hard hat (protective helmet) to protect his grey matter; these have model names like Chaos, Anarchy and Havoc, which gives you an idea of the type of turbulence and wild water (with rocks and tree trunks on the bottom) that whitewater kayakers typically inhabit. I used to be a w/w type, but in a rare moment of achieving common sense, decided to switch to much more serene and less hazardous sea kayaking, where you only have to worry about tides, currents, surf, fog, power boats, killer whales and sharks.
This was the view from my kayak that same day, when I decided to park the boat in some weeds for a few minutes and contemplate the sky and clouds above and a raft of coots in the distance… they are birds, not a bunch of old guys in canoes and kayaks.
These American Coots (Fulica americana) congregate in rafts of a hundred or so birds. They are often mistaken for ducks, but they are a separate order. One of the interesting habits of mother coots is that they often preferentially feed offspring with the brightest plume feathers, a characteristic known as chick ornaments, not to be mistaken for 30 year-old gals on the arms of 70-year old guys on cruise ships. (You just can’t make this stuff up.) Back in Louisiana, where I grew up, coots are called pouldeau (contraction of poule d’eau, literally “water hen”), and are often cooked in gumbo.
The coot is also the mascot of the Toledo Mud Hens, a professional AAA minor league baseball team affiliated with the Detroit Tigers. (I’m not being critical, but it looks like the team mascot’s plumage does not quite match that of its namesake…)
These lily pads had very few blossoms, but one perfect bloom stood out amid the sea of green surrounding it. Floating lily pads often provide hiding places for water moccasins (Agkistrodon piscivorus), also known as cottonmouths, from their snow-white mouth linings. I am always attentive to the possibility of venomous snakes in my vicinity, especially since water moccasins are known for their aggressive behavior. On a canoe trip in South Carolina years ago, a large water moccasin tried to get into my daughter Elizabeth’s canoe, and she had to beat it off with her paddle.
Several houses built along the shore had docks, and most had prominent plastic owls to scare off birds. The white stuff dripping from this owl’s head appears to be a deposit from less than intimidated birds like this great blue heron (Ardea herodias) which appears totally unconcerned about the potential threat of the plastic owl he is sharing the dock with…
Finally, Suzanne and I had the great good fortune to meet up with our latest quiz winner, the lovely Colette Sasina and Her Handsome Husband John, high school sweethearts from the Detroit area. We had a delightful breakfast at First Watch (what a menu!). Colette and John retired to the area about 14 years ago and live in the Del Webb community. We shared personal histories and other stories, and laughed and laughed throughout our meal. We love meeting interesting, fun people, and Colette and John sure fit those descriptors!