Florida (still) bugs me

Esteban and I spent the last week in Florida, visiting my folks. We had a wonderful time and came home with lots of great memories. And what a treat it was to not need socks (or gloves or boots or coats or hats or scarves)!

It was a treat also to walk with my parents almost every morning, especially along the beach.

Beach entrance 1000333 CR BLOG

Mom and Dad 1000307 BLOG

They were patient with my stopping every few steps to point out flowers, like these morning glories …

Morning glories 1000330 BLOG

… or insects — such as the spiny orb weavers, which are presumably named after their spiky shells and round webs.

Spiny orb weaver 1000156 BLOG

Spiny orb weaver 1000220 BLOG

To the casual visitor it might seem like the tropics don’t have seasons. But if you look closely, you’ll find a rhythm here too.

For example, last week I saw only one golden orb weaver. And instead of being a weathered gray-olive, this time the sea grapes were stained red and brilliant yellow.

Sea grape 1000548 BLOG

Sea grapes 1000519 BLOG

But if I had to choose a single theme for the past week, I’d say “dragonflies.” They were everywhere — in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

Dragonfly 1000210 CR BLOG

Dragonfly 1000503 CR BLOG

The delicate iridescent blue ones were my favorites …

Dragonflies 1000326 BLOG

Dragonfly 1000322 CR BLOG

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… although this giant greenish one also made a nice addition to the painting in our hotel.

Dragonfly 1000353 BLOG

Dragonfly 1000379 BLOG

A couple of mornings I got up extra-early to explore the neighborhood.

Canal scene 1000232 BLOG

That’s how I discovered that 6:30 a.m. is the time to walk your dog (probably because by 7 a.m. it’s too hot).

Dogwalk hour 1000237 BLOG

I also discovered that Florida squirrels are about 40% smaller, skinnier, and more curious than their Minnesota cousins.

Cheeky squirrel 1000460 BLOG

Demolitions happen faster too: This house disappeared in just three days.

Demolition 1000258 BLOG

Demolition 1000454 BLOG

Nearby there was an outdoor living room, complete with a waterproof Bible. (Yes, the interior pages were printed on plastic. I checked.)

Waterproof bible 1000268 BLOG

In spite of all the interesting sights, I did miss the little apartment Esteban and I used to rent by the beach. This time we managed only one evening walk along the ocean.

Sunset on beach 1000348 BLOG

But with all the terrible trash we encountered maybe it’s just as well. It breaks my heart how careless people can be, as if humans are not part of nature.

Syringe on beach 1000343 BLOG

On our last morning I did find a little lake, though, where I stopped to watch the sunrise. It was glorious.

Weathered tree sunrise 1000429 BLOG

Weathered tree sunrise 1000446 BLOG

Alas, it seems like a lifetime ago already. If not for the photos, you could convince me it was all a dream.

Palms and coconuts 1000227 BLOG

But at least it was a good dream, even with all the bugs.



    • Thank you kindly! It won’t be long before we’re seeing “nature’s helicopters” around here too, I hope. 🙂

    • I would have LOVED going to Costa Rica with you, Anthony — what a fun idea to be “the official photographer of Anthony.” Well, next time. In the meantime I’m looking forward to catching up with what *you* have been up to this past week. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  1. My word your photos are stunning. The dragonfly pics are extraordinary. And that squirrel. I love squirrels and squirrel pics and I also love squirrel antics (mostly). It’s interesting to hear that the Florida version is smaller. Perhaps they don’t need to plump up for the winter so they stay trim. I don’t need to plump up for the winter, either, but that’s another story. I’m glad you enjoyed walks with your folks along with a break from your brutally cold weather.

    Great spider pics! I know you and I have discussed the challenge of capturing them with the camera lens. You’ve managed superbly.

    Sending warm thoughts your way.

    • Thank you for warming my heart with your sweet comment, dear Alys. I’ll keep it in mind that you (mostly) love squirrel antics — because there are lots to be had during our brief summers here, when the little guys endeavor to get as roly-poly as possible. I love your theory too about why the ones in Florida are so much thinner and smaller; much more plausible than my “so they look good in a bikini” hypothesis, LOL. Well. Thank you for the warm thoughts! I will snuggle up in them as I prepare to get back into my wintry routine. A big hug back to you! xoxo

  2. Lovely dragonfly shots especially Heide, that one on the painting is so camouflaged, can they change their colours like chameleons? Did you use a long lens or do they let you get close?

    • Great question about the color, Dan — I looked it up and learned that the males of some species can change color to attract a mate, but in most dragonflies the color becomes more vibrant and permanent as they mature. So my educated guess is that this cheeky fellow (or lady, hard to tell) thought the painting would provide good camouflage for his (or her) mid-morning nap. As for my equipment, for the big green one I used extension tubes to “create” a macro lens, while for the most of the smaller blue ones I used a long lens because they were indeed more skittish. Either way, I found them fascinating to see up close. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • Do you watch any of the David Attenborough series like Planet Earth, Dynasties etc? Incredible to see nature in all its forms…

        I always forget I have extension tubes for my M42 lenses! Will have to dig them out for some close up works in the spring/summer.

        • Yes indeed, Dan, I’m a big fan of nature documentaries. Have you seen “Hidden Kingdoms” yet? The cinematography is FANTASTIC. For once it’s worth watching all the behind-the-scenes commentary to see how they got all the footage. And I’m glad to have reminded you of your extension tubes! They’re not quite as good as a dedicated macro lens because you don’t have as much control over the depth of field, but still a lot of fun to play with. Cheers, and thanks again for your always thoughtful comments!

  3. Thank you for the sunshine photos, Heide. They lift the spirits in this ‘just before Spring’ time, when the sun hasn’t quite decided to come out yet.

    I’m intrigued by your beautiful dragonfly pictures. Is there some kind of dragonfly model agency in Florida? They look as if they’re posing for Vogue close-ups.

    • Ha ha! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were a dragonfly model agency in Florida, since the entire state seems devoted to physical vanity. The problem is that (to my knowledge) dragonflies don’t have email, so I don’t know how I would deliver their close-ups, except by taking another trip. 😉 But I’m so pleased you liked the photos and hope the sun will soon shine on your corner of the world too. Thank you for brightening my day with your kind comment, E!

      • Do you have outtakes, where the dragonfly decides to leave the frame just as you focus?

        I’ve never been to Florida. Is it a state devoted to vanity or are the inhabitants all simply beautiful?

        • Why yes, in fact I *do* have a few dragonfly outtakes! A couple were due to my “model” flying off, and another was because I lost my footing and fell over.

          As for Florida’s culture: To me, it seems full of vanity and artificiality (and this applies to everything, from the facelifts to the manicured lawns). Which makes it all the more interesting that my parents settled there, since they are not at all into vanity or keeping up appearances. Hmmm. Once again you have me pondering something I hadn’t considered before!

    • It was a great week, Tom — thank you! I hope the week ahead will be great for you, too. (Look for an email in a bit, full of good wishes.)

    • If it helps ease your jealousy at all, I’m back in the tundra today. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, though … any photographic compliment from you is a compliment indeed!

    • It really was lovely, M.B. — and thank you for your kind words! I was grateful that my “models” were so cooperative, because I’ve been fascinated by dragonflies for ages but have never been able to get that close before.

  4. Lovely photos and you have a wonderful eye for the beauty of the details that others might glance over. I’m glad you had a wonderful week with the folks away from the cold.

  5. What a great week! Thanks for sharing. I especially like the lake sunrise photos, but the dragonflies are marvelous. These “bugs” always fascinate me, but they never pose for me.

    • Thank you, Patti! Dragonflies usually flee from me too, so their cooperation with my documentary efforts really did make the week extra-special. 🙂

    • They have reindeer rides in Florida too, Matti — at least around Christmas! I saw that once at Disneyworld and wondered what the poor bewildered beasts must have been thinking. Hope your days are getting longer too, as ours are here.

    • Given the many beautiful places you’ve visited, I imagine you’ve had this sensation over and over, Jessica, of wondering if it ever really happened. But I suppose that even if the experiences seem distant to us so quickly, they’re still a break from the routine, and an opportunity to hit the “reset” button. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      • That is true! It’s my visit to the Liguria region in Italy and to Venice that gives me that feeling more than anything. I still can’t believe I was there and took those pictures… but I’m glad to have that “perfect place” to dream about returning to. 😁

  6. Such exquisite colors on those photos! The tropical warmth comes through with your visuals – it’s so lovely =) Thank you for sharing your vision and your experience, Heide. I feel like I just went to Florida, you describe things that well!

    • I assure you that Florida is much nicer and much more interesting than my description suggests, dear Lara! For starters, I don’t think most visitors notice nearly as many of the bugs as I do. 🙂 Just the same, it’s a pleasure and an honor to have your virtual company.

  7. What an astonishing world. And yes, tropics have their special draw, particularly when living in the winter in the north (writing so, I also have to admit I do enjoy winter very much). You captured som gorgeous photos on your trip to Florida.

    • I think I would tire of the bugs and heat and humidity if I lived in Florida year-round, but it sure is nice to visit now and then. Just as it’s nice of you to visit here too! Thank you so much, Otto — I’m honored.

    • Thank you very much! I was grateful the little guys (or gals) sat still for me, because usually they’re buzzing around at top speed.

  8. If anyone deserved a trip to warmer climes it was you. The “Dragonfly on Painting” is a masterpiece, I think. Those two pictures would make a delightful pair hanging on your wall and they’ll remind you of those walks with your parents (and the time spent with Esteban) that week. So many good images you shared here. The waterproof bible cracks me up lol!

    • A masterpiece, you say? Well … that dragonfly must have really improved on the original, because that painting was NO masterpiece. 🙂 As for that Bible: It would *really* be a winner if the covers were inflatable so it could double as a flotation device. During hurricane season, anything that floats can literally be a lifesaver! AS always, thank you for stopping by and for bringing a huge smile.

  9. I don,t think I’ll ever look at a dragonfly quite the same again…(although we don’t get many around here.) Loved those early morning walks. The photos almost breathe the warm air!

    • What a lovely comment! This is a truth that photography reveals to me over and over again: If you look closely enough, even the most mundane things are fascinating. Thank you so much for stopping by!

    • You’ve said it beautifully! Photography is the best way I’ve found to crystallize and preserve little moments. Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for your kind words.

  10. Heide; I shall (later on) read the comments you already collected but first: I only now get to read your last posts and this one here is such a joy and such an amazement to read and view. Your photos are truly stellar and I love especially the glorious ‚helicopters‘ (as my child when small named them), but also the squirrel and then of course the moody landscape photos – I find a tiny leaning to Turner….
    The little disco spider with its red spikes nearly killed me 😉 That‘s one of God‘s creatures NOT afraid to stand out of the crowd!

    On a totally different note: Did you not open the comments on purpose on your next post? I just want to scream YES YES YES…. I‘m signing every single petition there is (and I do get a lot in 3 languages on my various accounts). It tears me apart – the lies, negligence, monetary interests and disregards of humans and nature. We are ALL going to pay the price.

    • Hello dear Kiki,
      Your description of the “disco spider” was so charming that I read it out loud to my husband. Thank you for bringing us both a laugh … you have such a way with words. And thank you too for your KIND words, which always brighten my day.

      On a totally different note, I did indeed leave the comments off on my next post. Anything that’s even mildly political tends to draw some pretty nasty comments, and I’d rather focus that energy on preventing this tragedy in the making than on pointing fingers about who is to blame (because the previous administration laid the groundwork, I’m sad to say). But an enormous thanks you to for taking this issue under your wing and adding your voice to the chorus that is trying to defend these poor creatures who cannot defend or even speak for themselves. Merci infiniment, de tout mon coeur !

  11. Heide, as usual your photography is stunning. I call Florida “God’s Waiting Room,” but your post is a superb reminder that there gorgeous places that provide an escape from what much of Florida is.

    • What a kind comment, Wolfie … thank you for absolutely making my day! I love your description of Florida as “God’s Waiting Room,” because it really can feel that way. But yes indeed, even in Florida there is still much beauty to be found, with just a bit of looking. You’ve shown me the same thing about St. Paul, by pointing out interesting details in buildings I’ve passed a hundred times! So hats off to you for your endless curiosity and fresh perspective, too.

  12. Hello lovely Heidi ❤ Nice to see you enjoyed a get-a-way. Your photo's are what dreams are made of. I guess I'd have to be up at the crack of dawn too because I really can't manage much heat. That sure would be hard for this lazy butt, LOL. On the plus side, I'd get to visit a lot of doggo's 😀 That spider, while interesting, is chilling. LOL, I can handle just about anything but a spider. They do create pretty webs, but knowing me, I'd walk right through it and run screaming through the neighbourhood with that Spiny Orb on me….I shiver at the thought 😀

    I don't know why people are so lame to leave their trash on a beach, it's infuriating. When I see smokers, throw down their nasty butts and stomp on them, I give them the evil eye and say loud enough for them to hear, "oh now that's nice". I've gotten some interesting comments back too, but so be it. Trash is trash.

    See any gater's near that lake? I hear you find them in back yards there. I wonder if they make gater spray? You can by bear spray in our parts for walks in the forest. Unfortunately, you have to be pretty close to use it. Design flaw?

    That cute squirrel is looking right at you 😀 Maybe she was hoping for breakfast? Interesting that they are much smaller, or perhaps the one's in Minnesota are oddly super-sized? Food for thought. A couple of summers ago, through a hot spell, I put out an old gravy boat filled with water for the squirrels. Unfortunately my neighbour thought it was trash. ?? I can't imagine why? When it disappeared, I mentioned that I thought someone pinched it and she confessed. "Who leaves pretty gravy boats under trees", she said. That'd be me…dah!!

    Anywho, all delightful photo's and so well done. Cheers dear! BTW, I think spring is around the corner here. I spotted pussy willows this AM xo K

    • “You can by bear spray in our parts for walks in the forest. Unfortunately, you have to be pretty close to use it. Design flaw?” HAHAHAAA! Yes, it *does* seem like a design flaw to have to walk up to the bear before you can spray it, doesn’t it? I’ve never heard of gator spray, though. My understanding is that they are impervious to everything, including flames, so it’s better to stay th’ heck as far away from them as you can (which is precisely why I moved to Minnesota, lol). My grandma (who passed away a few years ago, rest her soul) once had a giant gator on her driveway. I remember how mad she was to miss the museum donors’ luncheon because there was an alligator sunbathing in her front yard. My mom and dad also regularly see enormous iguanas and snakes. No spray for those, either, I’m afraid. On the plus side, I forgot to mention that the spiders I featured in my post aren’t poisonous to people. That wouldn’t stop me from screaming and running like a crazy person if I actually got one on me, but it’s still good to know. Just as it’s wonderful to hear from you! I’ve been out today collecting miniature Minnesota goodies for your garden and will post them to you soon. Hope you are well and happy, dear Boom-dee. xoxo

      • I’m so spoilt, nee blessed (and a little spoilt too) to be treated to some Minnesota treats by your’s truly. Thank you in advance! xo I haven’t started your snail mail goodie yet, but I’ve narrowed it down 😀 Yes, yes, well and happy……always xoK

  13. The insect close-ups are stunning. The one in your hotel is fascinating both in its beauty and in how quickly it would have my Mrs packed and back home had that hotel room been ours. 😀

    • If it’s of any consolation, it’s unlikely the missus would have noticed that bug, because it chose its camouflage so well. In fact, I walked past it many times — and I was *looking* for dragonflies! Still … Florida is definitely not the place for folks who dislike bugs. Thank you kindly, J.P.!

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