Birds Of Paradise…

There are lots of things to NOT like about Florida… that is for another post entirely. A long post. But there are so many things to really love about Florida too. It lends itself to one of the most vacillating love-hate relationships I have ever known.

Florida is in many ways the opposite of the rest of the country. We have a tropical climate which makes our summers unbearable. The months of May through October are SO stiflingly sweltering hot that when the rest of the country is finally opening their doors and windows after a cold winter, dusting off cob webs and enjoying the nice weather, Florida is closing up shop and hibernating in the air conditioning. The MUCH NEEDED air conditioning. You break a sweat walking from the front door to the mailbox and back.

But right around the middle of October… or possibly later as sometimes we are still unbearable until November… the weather starts to cool a bit with little signs of awesomeness. And then it happens at the moment hurricane season ends. The sun is farther enough away and the humidity drops, and it is wonderful. THAT is when Florida opens up all the windows and we spend our time outside. Hello December and January! The rates in all the hotels and airlines go sky high for a reason, it is paradise.

I have been taking long bike rides in the early mornings quite a bit recently. I have always done this but I am making a point of doing it more regularly as it is one of the highlights of my life right now. It really helps clear my head and keep me on track when my thoughts start to get heavy. Lots of life stuff going on yet again for me with the evil C word infiltrating my world and not in a nice way. I am just so incredibly sick and tired of Cancer… and it seems to be everywhere I look.

I am trying to fill my time with things that make me feel as present as possible since Cody passed. That was one thing he always did for me. He grounded me and taught me to live moment to moment. I truly look forward to my rides and breathing the moist air through my lungs as I peddle along listening to good tunes on my iPod. I bike for over an hour and it is a journey through a variety of terrain, a trip unto itself. It reminds me of one particular ten mile run I did while training for my half marathon. I ran shorter distances and longer since then, but that particular run was memorable for me because of the terrain and the length, the music I listened to and the mindset I was in. It transformed me.

On my morning ride I leave the house and cross one of the main roads that runs north and south, but is the westernmost “highway” that runs almost the entire state of Florida, State Road 7. It used to be the end of the civilized world bordering the civilized area of Eastern South Florida and the Everglades and the wild of Florida. But since I have moved here in the last ten years, even west of State Road 7 there are developments where there used to be sugar cane fields and farms and swamp. I hate seeing them pave over the beauty so much just to make yet another gated community that will remain vastly empty, but it is what they do here.

I cross over the main road and start my twelve mile loop south and then very west again to a beautiful community park that really does border the wilds of Florida and that they have allowed to grow more natural like the real Florida. The park is beautiful and serene with lakes and woods, alligators, turtles, frogs, armadillos, geckos, lizards, iguanas and so many birds! And that is one of the other amazing things about Florida, the birds. Yet another opposite than the rest of the country: all the birds from all over North America and probably everywhere else too, flock to Florida to wait out the winter. The birds are AMAZING!!! (and I am not referring to the Snow Birds- see the above referenced long post for another time for that rant) It is very noticeable when they start to arrive too… there are birds everywhere you look.  Especially in the park. We have tons of ducks, egrets, herons of all kinds including the Great Blues that stand about as tall as I do, green herons, Great Egrets, wood storks, osprey, hawks, ibis, pelicans, seagulls, bald eagles, flocks of bright green parrots called Quakers, roseate spoonbills, cranes and the list goes on and on and on… Florida and especially the Everglades is main pit stop along the migratory paths of all kinds of birds simply because it is such an abundant habitat that is conducive to all types of birds. I have many pictures of all of these birds that I will post at some point as they are on another computer.

It is starting already. I noticed some new arrivals this morning on my ride. The ducks are usually the first here in my neighborhood and I am seeing some new “faces”. I love it.

There is lots more to love about Florida… the kayaking, snorkeling, diving is world class, the fishing, the flowers and trees and crazy tropical fruits… the eclectic mix of Caribbean folks who live here and bring their homeland traditions and food and culture with them. But sometimes it is the most reachable and attainable, right outside your own front door that is enough to make you appreciate the beauty there is around you.

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~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on September 7, 2012.

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