When the Storm Hits, One Good Tern Deserves Another

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Storm brewing over Castaway Point

Storm brewing over Castaway Point

This little adventure came about many moons ago-soon after losing my wife Jodi.

We would visit a small park, known as Castaway Point, with a beautiful dock that juts out into the peaceful limpid Indian River Lagoon, rife with dolphins, herons, cranes and other exotic fauna.

That night was very wild and exceedingly windy-a glorious evening. And like those who help those affected by tornadoes or hurricanes and other disasters, we got to help a storm victim ourselves.

A Storm Victim

A Storm Victim

I was rumbling along the wooden boardwalk when I sighted the forlorn creature. Strange, he was right next to the boardwalk and not flying away as I trundled forth. A set of black-rimmed eyes set in a comical black-topped head with a brilliant orange bill stared up at me. A sleek bluish-white feathered body rounded out the rest of him.

How could you resist helping me?

How could you resist helping me?

I bent down and he moved away. Then I saw why he stayed grounded-his wing was twisted at a terrible angle and never moved. He had been on the wing and a giant gust must have caught him and dashed him against a pole or wire up on high.

He could not elevate like this tern, here

He could not elevate like this tern, here

I called Babs over. She was distraught over the bird’s condition and of course we had to help him.

A cluster of Royal Terns loitering about the beach

A cluster of Royal Terns loitering about the beach

We had a blanket in the car and, after a dance as the bird evaded us, we finally were able to carefully scoop him up into the gentle swath of cloth. Babs held him in her lap the drive home and we deposited him into a kitty carrier (we have many for our multitude of felines).

Now what, that peculiar man there wondered, to do with this fish-gobbling, wing-injured invalid?

Now what, that peculiar man there wondered, to do with this fish-gobbling, wing-injured invalid?

Now what?! We didn’t even know what type of bird he was, some kind of seabird tern was all we could distinguish.

A field-guide and the Net provided the answer-a 24 hour number to call for local wildlife in distress. A man gave us the number of a woman who could help, as the hour was very late.

Royal Terns chillin'

Royal Terns chillin’

A cheerful voice answered the phone and we described the bird and his condition. “I agree, I think you have a Royal Tern, there,” she said. “Bring him over and I will take him.”

Dawn's Flight

Off we went and found her house, well after midnight. She bounded out and peered at our feathered friend. “A Royal Tern, all right.” She gently eased him out and took him into her house, filled with other birds! He was in good hands, she assured us and will be treated for his broken wing.

Royal Terns will hang out in gangs on the beach with other sea-side birds

Royal Terns will hang out in gangs on the beach with other sea-side birds

It was a grand thing and helped us forget our personal pain for a little while to help one of our fellow inhabitants of this Floridian paradise in his great time of need.

Royal Terns taking flight, perhaps our invalid storm victim is amongst them. I think so.

Royal Terns taking flight, perhaps our invalid storm victim is amongst them. I think so.

Photography by Autumn Jade

The Kitten That Rescued Himself

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This ongoing adventure left port about 4 months ago and is still out to sea!

Fyodor by the Sea, Won't you Please, Please Rescue me??

A nature trip like so many others to a nature park visited time and again.  Darkness is dropping softly down, gloom just beginning to spread silently about.

We emerge from the path and I shuffle toward the car by the roadway.  My daughter Babs notices a white van pulling away and departing the park.  We come to the car and I unlock.

“Wait a minute, I want to go up the road a bit near the water and fishing area,” Babs calls out.

“Huh, what?” I stammer, “We have to go, let’s go; it is getting dark and I want something to eat,” I fervently protest.  But no, “I insist we take this one wee little walk up the road.  It’ll just take a minute.” (Just take a minute? Hmph…she always says that…)

She starts off, as she is so wont to do.  I sigh, lurching and meandering after her up the road.  She is near the tiny wooden pier with the fishing seats, but standing just off it on land.

I sense something to the left where brushy thickets grow, a twist of sea grape trees, mangroves and weeds.  A water channel lay along one side of the thicket, cushioning it with the gritty road on the other side, leaving only a very narrow strip of brush in between.

A loud wailing, mewling, even somewhat shrieking tempestuous sound assails my ears.  My visage whirls around to the left and I gawp at the tangle of inky bramble.

To my bewildered eyes a tiny, most miniscule, almost pure white male kitten with brilliant blue eyes bounds out of the brush and heads toward us.  What is this?  No, no, we have 5 cats, having lost one beloved male cat to cancer less than a year before!  We can’t take on another!

That Face...

I begin to walk back to the car, ignoring the creature (blast that Babs…she’ll be sure to scoop the thing up…).  The kitten cries piteously ever more loudly as I back away.  Babs scoops up the kitten and swings him around to me.

“We, uugh, we can’t keep him, uugh, we have too many,” I weakly croak.

“Sir! He’s helpless. Needs us; he probably was left here,” admonishes Babs.

The kitten is amazingly, enormously cute, nearly all white with light tan stripes and light blue eyes, like Paul Newman, an actor my wife adored while she was alive (maybe she still is…hopefully not with Paul and his dratted blue eyes, the two of them dancing around in some celestial…no, no, put that out of your mind!).

As I stoop, musing in the cloak of night, a few stars twinkling above, I suddenly become aware of mewling coming from inside the car. That Babs has already become ensconsed with the puling little thing in the car!

I get in. We look him over.  No matted fur, no mud or soil.  Well nourished, not emaciated like the other stray things (as our other cats and two stray rabbits were when first discovered).

Kitten Rescuer??

Kitten Rescuer??

That clinched it (as if there ever was a debate…).  Home he goes!

Hmm, he enjoys the car ride home.  I and Babs postulate that the white van leaving just before we strolled up the road was the kitten-dumping villain.  What dastardly person could leave such a sweet perky and feisty kitten just weaned-at a park with predators and alligators?

“Ooo! Yes!” Babs cries with a twisted, rictus grin, “He would make a fabulous little morsel for a fine wee alligator, indeed! Perhaps we should go back and leave him for our dear saurian friends.”

Not a chance.

A day later, he gets a fast visit with our vet.  No worms, no disease; he is in great health.  Odd for a stray kitten.

We give him an ancient name.  Fyodor he will be, after the famous Russian writer.  Don’t ask how we came up with it.  It’s better than Ernest, or Edgar, or Henrik…or Mishkin, as Babs (only!) is so fond of.

We introduce him to our maw of scowling, very adult-sized cats. I fear the worst.  They melt; soon he is prancing around like the proud owner of his own private veranda.  Bounding and leaping, spinning and twirling at cat toys, blue eyes twinkling with mirth.

Kitten-walking

But alas, the kitten is growing up way too fast; so much more cat to love now, sigh.

But kitten-mischief remains. He has a new trick- sail onto the porch screens and let ‘er rip.  Then bound through the hole and run away (but just to the front door).  The other cats are taking notes on feline screen removal, courtesy of the kitten.  Darn.

After Squeezing through Screens....

Babs has just convinced me to get another large cat condo/bucket upholstered cat platform for the new feline.  3 critters are passed out on the perches at this late hour. I hear kitten-like purring rattling in my ear…probably dreaming of cat-walks and squeezing through holes in screens and gobbling grass and so on…

Fyodor Kitten

Fyodor, the kitten who rescued himself.

Video of Fyodor on one of our rambles together.

Cheers,

Sir Felion

(video and photos by my daughter Autumn Jade)

Waltzing Through a Busy Bovine Pasture; That’s No Bull (But Yes, There were Two Bulls!)

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A copper sunset melted over bovine pastures

A copper sunset melted over bovine pastures

Yesterday we undertook a delightful jaunt into the dark mysteries of Central Florida, near Orlando on a splendid cool winter’s day.  Part of the Florida Trail System (many trails set up by volunteers marking trees in the forest) loomed up in a Wetlands area.  We could not resist, so we sauntered forth on our latest adventure.Odd, but the trail seemed to start by a gate.  Cattle stood nearby.  Where was the trail?  We saw a sign saying “Take Care of Cattle.”  Do we enter this field?

A knotted rope fastened the gate and I undid it, we shuffled though, and tied it shut behind us.

I suddenly realized we were right in the cattle field, and several huge bovines were ambling nearby.  I spotted the sign for the Trail across part of this field past a number of cattle, so it meant you are to join them briefly in their pasture to get to the Trail!  I have never been in a cow pasture before with the occupants prominently present!

Which one looks a little more nervous?

Which one looks a little more nervous?

My daughter Babs sang out, “Sprint over to that cowie over there- she’s posing most swimmingly for a photo.”  So I foolishly shimmered over toward the cow.  It was almost taller than me and outweighed me by many tons, at least.  It looked formidable.  My progress was so slow my daughter admonished me to walk faster right up to the cow.  I quaked a bit-I saw the  whites of her eyes rolling (which Babs blithely explained away, “Oh she’s just trying to figure out what on earth this double-camera-ed creature is, as well as keep an eye on you, in that peculiar outfit with those lemon-trim shades, at the same time, Sir, don’t worry about it!”). Nonetheless, great images of bullfights with matadors being charged danced in my head.  I tightened up my courage and again started to the cow while daughter got pictures.  I got close, but the cow wriggled and then backed up away.  I kinda hoofed it out of that spot myself!

We strolled past several other fine bovine specimens and into the Trailhead.  Some munched grass, another munched part of a palm tree torn down; they just were rooted in place and we floated by without a sound or movement.

These cows became a little fiesty, vying for a...palm leaf frond! I had no idea cows munched on palm trees...

These cows became a little fiesty, vying for a…palm leaf frond! I had no idea cows munched on palm trees…

On our way back we entered their world at late dusk.  Two large hulks were nearby.  Babs deadpanned “They’re Bulls”, and indeed they were-fine young creatures barely out of calfhood.  I sped by to the gate, untied it and quickly tied it back up.  Babs slowly sauntered without a care behind me. Years later, she arrived. Safe at last, but really, none were aggressive to us.

Babs chimed out we will be going back there for more photo ops, so more adventures await.

Imagine John Lennon Art Show

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John Lennon Art ShowSaturday a few weeks ago, we concluded that a day trip was in order.

In Winter Park, Florida, an artistic traveling event had caught our fancy. Yoko Ono has gathered up her late husband’s art and put together an ensemble honoring his audacious genius at plundering the depths of his love and devotion to Yoko and his son Sean. John was an accomplished artist, before, during and after his Beatling adventures.

We ambled enthralled through the exhibit. Both his original penned song lyrics and his Impressionistic ink and pen drawings drifted by our eyes. Beatles songs warbled quietly in the background.

Lennon LoversThen I stopped. Flourishing lines coalesced into a deep peaceful pastoral scene of Yoko propped under a tree and John resting his head in her lap. Both were posed in rapturous adoration and completeness in each other. A sob caught in my throat as I reminisced of a time with my departed Jodi so much like this vivid depiction before me, us relaxing at the beach with my head next to my beloved wife now gone these six years. John’s art had gripped the ardor and oneness I had with Jodi. I thought how I would in an instant give up years of my life to have just a half-hour more with her once again.

It takes a tremendously talented artist like John Lennon to reach into my inner soul and touch the pain and joy of our everlasting union. John’s art style was very much like Jodi’s art, showing the joy she had for her life.

http://johnlennonartwork.com/

Talented Soul

Blue Spring- Peering into the Waters Ahead

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Moored in Grief

It was a time of abysmal permeating sadness and drabness.

The Occassional Gator

Life seemed weak and drained.

Ludic Manatee

My daughter and I, moored in grief, crushing pain. Just six weeks since moving from dark and cantankerous Midwest-land near Chicago-the pestilence struck her, five years ago.

Blearing Grief

It was a few months after my wife of 19 years had departed from cancer; a momentous and ever-chaotic time, us hoping and despairing, then just a deep inky silence where she had been.

Squirrely

After my wife’s departure, we began to take trips to reclaim our balance and to see the bounty of Florida.

Rainy Days

Maps were studied; net was consulted. A park with a natural spring shimmered into our review. It is in Central Florida a little north of Orlando. Hmm. Nestled in a heavily wooded park, limpid waters flowing.

Forest Macro

The rickety car (it seems we always have these ancient buggies that make travel an interesting challenge) was loaded for a day trip heading West across the boggy swampland and smoky hazy sky.

Curious Squirrel

Onward we rolled, until we went down an ordinary street and into an ordinary park. Off we strolled. It did not seem like very much, just a plain park with usual greenery, squirrels, broad trees.

Blue Spring

A sign said “Spring This Way”, next to a wooden boardwalk shielded by a thick hedge.

A Day in Florida

We pushed through to the boardwalk and down a small path to a silvery platform with stairs trundling down into the spring water on each side.

Clement and Smiling

It was late and sunlight slanted through the trees.

Time for a Swim

Astounding

Abundance of Life

Thunderstruck, we surveyed the aquatic scene before us. Brilliant shimmering blue-green water-glass clear pristine water bloomed up at our feet. Eyes agog and jaws limp from astonishment, gazing at the fauna inhabiting the water.

Blue Spring State Park

Large Florida Spotted Gar with long tubular spotted bodies and an insanely long snout riddled with needle teeth swam by in droves. Up they surfaced and gulped air, as they have a primitive lung. Large bulbous catfish tangoed in the water, chasing each other and also popping up to the surface and flitting back down. We saw huge tarpon fish sailing by in schools. A turtle or Atlantic Sting Ray would languidly flap by.

Baby Gator

It was like being on a Cousteau marine expedition-with us tied to the front mast peering into the waters ahead of the vessel at all the oceanic treasures below (like the occassional baby gator, which, babs, of course, had to dunk into the blue lucid depths to swim with).

Manatee

The greatest stars of the Spring were the manatees. A dozen can cluster together like giant logjams. Each was a huge gray leathery 1000 pound or more gentle herbivore, related to the pachyderm, with a giant back flipper, two front flippers and a giant comically whimsical head with whiskers and two tiny eyes that peer at you, each creature diving, gliding and surfacing in breathy sprays of wondrous glory. If a human slips into the spring, they like to follow, but must be left alone and are heavily protected and endangered. They come and stay in the spring in winter to escape cold water elsewhere (spring is 72 degrees year-round).

Blue Spring

Brilliantly showcased, the wild happy creatures cavorted and played in Nature’s most stupendous aquarium.

Healing Waters

Words escape us as it is: Truly a Spring of Paradise.

Manatee Depths

In honor of Jode, my wife, on her birthday today, January 24th

From Sire, with Love

From Sire, with Love

Weighing In as Rocky, or Watch Rocky Balboa?

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This pratfall happened long ago when I was a teen lad with my younger brother in upstate New York where we lived at the time.

We stood in line and paid for the movie tickets and stepped into the theater foyer. I nervously paced.

“Wait” said the usher.

I dithered and dawdled near the movie door entrance.

“Wait,” he voiced again.

“100 pounds,” I chortled.

“Wait,” he said again.

“100 pounds,” I insanely repeated.

The usher walked away.

Tom, my brother who was 3 ½ years my junior said “I think he means we are to stay here as the movie is not done yet.”

I felt an inch tall and wanted to crawl down into the floorboards and disappear!!

My Most Expensive Video Game Ever

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These Lonely, Nocturnal Wanderings, Deep into those Grimy, Noir NightsThe following travesty of Justice happened back in 1983 when I was in my early Roaring Twenties, freshly on my own.

At the time I was living in a one-room apartment in a somewhat scary part of the city, in Ohio. Down the street loomed a drug den and lawmen sirens were sonorously heard often through the night. I had a most beaten-in Dodge Valiant, but it ran (usually). It got me to university- that’s what mattered. I was living the life of Ramen noodles and had a gas stipend from Dad, and I wore his old, hand-me-down brown tweedy suits that were too short. Fabulous times.

I had just wrapped up my College Major of Technical Communication (one of several majors tried on, and then this one I kept- stupendous entry job ads on Prof’s door really helped!) and had now signed up for the so very few slots for a writer internship at university. Waited, waited.

Then, a call from the school; an internship position was afoot! But it was quite a depressingly long distance away to get to the mandatory interview before the joy of school-mentored employment might be bestowed upon me; Illinois of all places! I cajoled my rather stoic Mum to part with her immaculate white Buick Century sedan for the trip. How I was granted this favor I have no inkling. The Dodge heap was left to itself in Ohio.

Off I went across multiple states. It was so nice to have a smooth, suave car to traverse the miles of highway. But, time was short. Wee hour cruising was now a strict requirement to arrive in time to pull off this life-changing event.

I was an avid video gamer and darkened many an arcade in those times past. Pac-Man and the newly released MS-Pac-Man were the big stars around town. I was good at them both.

I was finding myself really dopey and drowsy as the miles clocked by heading West. I drifted into a rest stop, and lo and behold, Pac-Man was sitting jauntily inside, itching for my quarter. I felt so refreshed after playing and zoomed back to the interstate.

Dogged by the MoonI kept this up for each rest stop to move the trip along through the night. About 3am I shimmied into another rest stop. I noticed a Handicapped Space sign, so parked to the left of the sign. In I went to the next MS Pac-Man in this sordid ritual of all-nighter driving.

As I ate the yellow dots and cavorted with the deadly multi-hued ghosties, or chomped them when they put on their blue uniforms, I gradually became aware of a presence that was not game-related. A shadow formed on the screen. For an instant, I thought it someone eager to play after I was done. I was annoyed, thinking who would be waiting to play at this hideous hour?

Presently, a raucous, loud, obnoxious voice trumpeted from above: “Are you crippled??” This was quite an odd request from a fellow gamer! I remained engrossed, ignoring this bizarre conversation. “ARE YOU CRIPPLED???” boomed the Voice.

I turned slightly and beheld a hulk with a midnight outfit, shiny badge and wide brimmed hat. A familiar curse resounded in my head and I cringed. “Are you crippled?” he huffed, as he had my attention. “No, you can see I am playing this game,” I stupidly said. I had no idea what this Bozo in the broad hat was driving at.

“Stop playing and come with me!” he rumbled. It was Game Over.

We traipsed out to my car. “Do you know what you have done?” he proclaimed. “No,” I dully mumbled. “You have no clue?!” accompanied with raised and knotted brow. His eyes looked black and oily in the gloom outside.

“Crawl under your car!” he commanded. With whirling head, I wondered What on Earth is this guy up to?? I shrank back. “I said, crawl under your car!!” he roared, pointing to the shadowy darkness beneath the Buick.

After a confused hesitation, I crept under the vehicle. “And what do you see?” came the caustic Voice drifting down from above.

After some time lying under there, I noticed a very faint outline of the classic wheelchair symbol nearly all worn off. In a thin tinplated voice, I squeaked “A wheelchair symbol.”

“YEEES!!” he said in a belittling drawl. “You are in a handicapped zone!” a brief pause, “Get your car moved now!”

I moved the car. It was queer, but only one of two slots that had the symbol had a Handicapped Sign in front of it. In my wild haste to fly to the next rest stop and imbibe the glories of Pac-Man, I sensed not the faint symbol triggering of such obnoxious antics as I stopped, skipped and rushed into the place to inhale the bluish glow of yet another game. My most expensive video game ever!

After that, I got out and a ticket was waiting for me. I held it, standing dazed, blinking in the dark and then he was no more. I briefly thought insanely of returning to MS Pac-Man, but cooler thoughts swiftly prevailed and I scooted back onto the road.

To End the Trolling Night in Dead, Blissful Sleep...No more rest stops-I had had quite enough; soon ensconced in a cheap motel for a few moments of shut-eye, and then did a smashing interview-that got me the internship, launched my technical writing career that has stood as my vocation to the land of the present. It is possible if the officer had not intervened, I would have stayed up all night and bombed the very crucial interview and derailed my life.

May all have a Happy New Year and stop by often to share in my most ludicrous and my serious muses of Life.