(Click the pic for a larger view)

Imagine, you were born and once lived happily in a Levittown community on Long Island.

Your home town of Roslyn Heights was a Levitt built community….this pic is of a Levittown that was built further away from NYC out on the Island than your home, but it was the same type of community.

You didn’t mind the winters and made piles (ahahah) of dough out of shoveling snow as a kid.

This was my life as I grew up.  Here is a picture of South Park, Roslyn Heights and the house I lived in. Back in the 1950’s we got Nor’easters (snow storms) that blanketed the homes and streets and, thank God, stopped school!

But during college, maybe before, something snapped inside of me and I wanted wide open spaces….I wanted the wild, the untamed, the jungle or was it the wild west? Okay, I really wanted to see, Where the Boys Are*, in Fort Lauderdale and be one of those guys the gals were after. That worked out well and Florida became just that sort of jungle I was after.

I had no idea how Florida, land of melting sun, would attach itself to my soul but it did.

Now, I’ve lived here since ,errr,,, 1972ish?

I’ve had a wonderful time in the surf—I love to surf waves.

This is me catching a good ride.

My wife and I had a rabbit who lived out back in Micanopy in his cage. One morning we awoke to look out and find a bob cat on top of his cage…..that started me thinking….(Don’t go out at night to pee…..)

Apparently, I’m not the only one to have found nature at my door step here in Northern Florida

Heck, I knew I loved this place of wonder, a place of untamed nature.

But I never lost my eye for the power of that nature as well… We landed on the moon, but maybe we don’t control gators?

It’s okay to count on fences to a certain degree…

So there’s a beauty and danger to Florida none of us Floridians should forget.

How about a night dip in the pool?

And then, only twice, I saw in person and close up by mistake, a Great Horned Owl…They can fly up to 40 MPH and have been known to pick up and kill 60 pound pets!! Our dog, I suspect, was attacked twice by one in our fenced in backyard—where he never goes at night anymore.

 

This is a shot tripped by a night camera….

I was running in the woods about thirty years ago when I saw a beast of a bird…it seemed to stand more than three feet tall and when he took off his wing span was about five feet! Just wow. I once saw another Great Horned Owl as I drove down Rochelle Road outside of Micanopy. The bird took off before I reached him and traveled over the road for about one tenth of a mile right before our car. That bird’s wing span seemed to almost reach from side to side of a double lane road–no joke. It was as if we were seeing a dinosaur.

I’ve fished the swamps for over ten years in my younger (err risky?) days….and there’s a beauty to a swamp—not a McDonald’s or Starbucks to be seen.

But always, there are gators. How many gators?

( Those eyes all belong to gators.)

This is the Alachua Sink in Alachua County, Florida. It’s about  one mile from our home. And this shot, by John Moran got him nation wide PR. His photos have appeared in National Geographic, Life, Time, Smithsonian, the New York Times Magazine and on the cover of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida. Dale and I were lucky enough to canoe down the Suwanee River with John, a time I’ll never forget for many reasons but one of them was having a wart hog pushing against my head from the other side of our tent as I slept at night as he rooted for food.

So, I’ve rooted here in Florida. I love the ocean, always have. And, I love to grow food as my father from Iowa taught me to do. Of course, we have a garden as any Floridian with the space should.

At six months , Shadow, didn’t know he wasn’t me, or human, exactly, and he helped me weed…I miss that help now.

You might be able to see, but at one year old, Shadow figured he should eat green beans right off the plant as we did as we picked them! He stopped eating green beans at about age two.

Once, I was drying herbs out in the front yard in foil sheets when a cop came by, stopped, and walked my way with a grin and his hand on his gun…I smiled and said hello… He looked down at my tins of herbs and said, “What do you have here?”.. “I’m drying herbs!” He wasn’t convinced so I walked him over to the garden and showed him the plants….”Well, I thought I had you busted for pot!”

I can’t blame him….but I didn’t add that I might have learned the entire process by growing and drying pot in my twenties:-)

So, we grow pineapples, too….

Mounds of oranges and grapefruit, too.

It’s all good. This city slicker found a home in the Northern Florida woodland, and I love it.

Heck, the tomatoes came in like a champ this year; Dale canned many.

From Levittown to the wilds of Northern Florida, I’m good. I don’t miss the hustle up north, the quicker pace of life or the traffic. No, I’m good with the gators, bob cat, owls and other critters. The sky here is open to see, and the ocean wind still washes the peninsula by four or five each afternoon. Gainesville is just 60 milers north of the Sub Tropical line. We live in a jungle of 24/7 year round growing just about. The birds love it, and so do I.

Cheers– thanks for visiting.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Franque23

*https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054469/