Friday, April 30, 2010

Praying for paradise

You can probably imagine the amount of e-mails I've received during the past few days from people who love this little piece of paradise and are concerned about the situation. As most everyone knows by now, it is not a matter of if the oil spill will move this way, but when it will arrive.

Until now I haven't written anything about it on my blog. I have always tried to keep my blog upbeat and positive, dedicated to sharing the beauty of our barrier island with others who can't be here on a full time basis. The last couple of days I've been too depressed to post because I can't come up with anything positive to say about the situation. Things are going to change for us -- soon.

Every time I think things can't get worse, they do. The Mobile Press-Register is reporting that a confidential government report on the unfolding oil spill now fears the well could become an "unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf". This afternoon the Governor of Florida issued a state of emergency for the counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf.

In regard to our marine life and waterfowl, you may click HERE to read the list of approximately 400 species that are now threatened by the oil spill

My first sea turtle patrol is scheduled for Sunday morning. I have no idea what, if anything, I will see at that point. As with other catastrophic events, it takes a while to process the enormity of the situation and deal with the helplessness of knowing there is really nothing we can do...except cry and pray for paradise.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birthday boy!

Look who turned 8 years old today! Panama Jack (a/k/a PJ - a/k/a P-Pup) may be middle aged, but cute as ever.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shifting sands

Ahhhh....the beach is beginning to rebuild after the winter erosion. Hopefully this area will even out much more in the next month, giving our turtles more room -- and higher ground -- to nest. Let's keep our fingers crossed that no storms come our way this year!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rain day

Although we're having a rain day, I can't complain. First of all, we need the rain. Secondly, the weather has been so gorgeous that I have a couple of extra photos to share from earlier in the week.

I love the contrast of the sand and grass beds in the sound. Of course you absolutely have to watchful for small sting rays buried in the sand if you decide to walk out to the grass beds to fish.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Turtle Patrol!!!

Sea turtle patrol time has finally arrived! We had our meeting last night at Naval Live Oaks and schedules are being finalized. Patrols start on May 1!

For those of you who are new to my blog, we begin our beach patrol before sunrise scouting for tracks like those above which I photographed last year. If we are lucky, we find a nest.

Can you imagine the energy expended by a 250 lb. sea turtle, suddenly weighed down by gravity as she comes ashore, pulling her body forward inches at a time by her flippers, digging a nest, disguising it by throwing sand over it with her flippers...then crawling back to the sea!

Sometimes it turns out to be a false crawl, sometimes we do find a nest, and sometimes the poor mama turtles pulls herself halfway across the island before finding the perfect spot to lay her eggs.

My patrols are a magical experience indeed and I can't wait to share them with all my blog followers again this year!

Another Knock Out season!

Wow! I couldn't be happier with the Knock Out roses in my yard. Despite what can be a harsh environment when it comes to salt and wind exposure, they have consistently been top-performers! They have been insect and fungus resistant also, not to mention that I have rarely done any dead-heading.

If you are looking for a little pizazz and color for your yard out here on the island, something that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds, I vote for both the Weeping Bottlebrush tree and Knock Out roses.

Grass beds in the sound

We haven't had rain in quite a while and the wind has been blowing from just about every direction except north, so water on the sound side is very clear, especially at low tide. You can distinctly see the outline of grass beds in Santa Rosa Sound - good fishing spots.

Just a couple of months 'til my stepdaughter and son-in-law arrive for a visit. I can almost taste their wonderful, fresh redfish and trout dinners now!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Searching for Cobia

Searching for Cobia! I love watching boats running along the coast, searching for signs of Cobia in April. You may click HERE to see photos of a few successful fishermen/women with their catch.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Going green!

Everywhere you turn, folks are 'going green' these days. Now our beaches appear to be going green too! How funny to see this little fellow hanging out on the sound-side beach this afternoon. It was so gorgeous that apparently even the anoles were coming out to catch some rays.


Mr. Morrie Drees, a local gentleman whom I've enjoyed getting to know in the past year or so, is very knowledgeable about the area, its history, wildlife and plants. I could listen to him talk all afternoon. When he offered to take my husband and me for a hike to an area once inhabited by Native Americans, we jumped at the opportunity. The view was amazing from the higher vantage point to which we hiked.

Though artifacts are long gone or long buried, we scouted out plants such as this Hastate Leaf Dock (Heart-winged Sorrel)...

And beautiful wildflowers such as this Spiderwort...

One Spiderwort plant produces a multitude of short-lived blooms each day. If you look closely you can see that some of the petals were already curling up, though it was only mid-day.

Thank you so much for a great adventure, Mr. Drees!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stops along the way

On my way back from Range Point, I stopped by Portofino for a banana smoothie...

Then walked across to the beach long enough to check out the surf and beach.

It's slightly hazy, but what a gorgeous day! Don't forget that you can check out the beach cams, listed in the left hand column!

Getting closer

I hiked to Range Point this morning to check on 'my' dewberries. As you can see, if you click on the photo to enlarge it, I'm getting closer and closer to that dewberry cobbler.

I searched my blog and discovered it was the first and second week of May last year that I was able to harvest them. To see last year's result you can click HERE.

Bottlebrush tree

In October 2007, my mother gave me a birthday present/early Christmas present of a Bottlebrush tree (Callistemon Viminalis in its 'weeping' form). I can't believe how much that small shrub has grown in 2 1/2 years! I keep pruning it up from the bottom to shape it into a tree and it's looking fabulous!

There was so much I had to re-learn about gardening when I moved to the beach. Many plants are not salt or wind tolerant. But, as you can see, Bottlebrush trees are very happy in this environment. They also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bamboo Willie's Crawfish Festival

It's Bamboo Willie's big Crawfish Festival weekend on Pensacola Beach.

Members of the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, like Lois Hausman above, were helping to dish up boxes of mudbugs to long lines of customers.

I love taking photos of crawfish, but I let friends take my share when it comes to eating them.

Trying to stay ahead of the demand.

Paula 'Sunshine' Soliel holds off the long line of customers while a new batch of crawfish arrive.

Demonstrating the proper technique.

Sucking 'em in.

It was a gorgeous day! The boardwalk and sound-side beach were packed. Be sure to pack up and arrive early if you want a spot tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Green sea turtle release

UPDATED 4/15/10:

Folks at the Naval Live Oaks area of Gulf Islands National Seashore had a very happy afternoon.

A young green sea turtle was released into Santa Rosa Sound at Naval Live Oaks. Originally thought to be one of the cold-stunned sea turtles rescued during our record-breaking cold-snap this winter, this juvenile green was actually discovered at the Ft. Pickens area of Gulf Islands National Seashore wrapped in monofilament. The fishing line was even in its mouth and gullet. It's left front flipper was so damaged that it had to be amputated.

Monica Cain, a bio-tech for Gulf Islands National Seashore, releases the juvenile green sea turtle into Santa Rosa Sound.

Although it took a minute or two for the turtle to get a little water under it to realize it was free, it finally moved toward into the sound.

And now it is happily back in its natural environment.

Sea turtle patrols start next month! After such a harsh winter, I'm anxious to see how many nests we will have this year. So remember to turn off your outside lights and close your curtains during turtle season so our sea turtles will not be distracted, discouraged or disoriented!

Where might you fly?

"...where might you fly?
In what sweet heaven might you find your love?
Unwilling to be bound, where might you move,
Lost between the wonder and the why?..."

~~Nicholas Gordon

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Terrific Tuesday!

What a gorgeous day on the beach. The water goes from shades emerald green to deep sapphire.

The sky is a deep blue with wispy clouds.

Mother Nature is surely in a great mood and so are all the beachgoers today!

Outsmarting critters

It's fun to plant a pot or two of tomatoes on my patio in the spring and watch them grow. Each year, however, I've been denied the fruits of my labor by some type of beach critter. Just as they are at that perfect stage to pick, I go out to gather them and find the bottom of the tomato completely eaten away. Frustrating!

My personal opinion is that it is beach rats, which my husband insists on calling 'mice'. A rodent over 3" long is classified as a rat to me!

At any rate, whatever the tomato-eating critter in my yard may be, this year I hope to outsmart it by trying an upside down tomato basket - Roma tomatoes on the bottom of the basket, grape-tomatoes on the top.

Perhaps this year I'll be able to serve up more than fried green tomatoes!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gulls and terns

Gulls and terns were hanging out at Range Point this morning, pointing into the wind like weather vanes. From left to right the : laughing gull, sandwich tern, and two royal terns.

Breezy day

What a beautiful day on the beach, though breezy. Cobia boats are out in force running along the coastline. Despite choppy water, you can already see the gorgeous color of the Gulf which is even more beautiful in summer.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

King Crab

Well this is the cutest 'King Crab' I've ever seen! Little Graham, our neighbor's son, was playing on the sound-side beach today with his dad.

Meanwhile, under the umbrella with mommy was his adorable little sister, Anna Grace. Aren't they beautiful!!

Look close!

At first they don't look like anything special, but...

look closer at those tiny dewberries starting to form.

By the middle of May, if not before, I'll be serving up dewberry cobbler!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Evening at the Grand Marlin

Twilight slowly faded as I stood on the back deck of the Grand Marlin this evening. It was so beautiful, I hated to leave! What a fabulous restaurant, fabulous view, and most importantly -- fabulous food.

The chef's choice on the dinner menu tonight was Parmesan-crusted triggerfish. It was possibly the best fish I've eaten...ever.

You may visit their website and take a look at the lunch and dinner menus by clicking HERE.

Monday, April 05, 2010


From one Bogart to another:

"Here's lookin' at you, kid."

~~ Humphrey Bogart (as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, 1942)

The Intracoastal Waterway

Another beautiful view from our friends' home in Villa Sabine. They have a great view of the Intracoastal Waterway/Santa Rosa Sound and the Bob Sykes bridge, which is beautiful at night as cars come across to the island.

Some of my friends tease that my camera must be surgically attached around my neck, but I missed a great shot last night by not having my telephoto lens with me. If you enlarge the photo above, you may be able to see the osprey which spent the evening perched atop the mast of their sailboat.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Golden moment

"Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."

~~ Henry Miller (1891 - 1980)

Friday, April 02, 2010


In the past week, 'my' dewberry patch seemed to burst into bloom overnight. I'm so excited! I smell a dewberry cobbler in my future!

As I've mentioned before, dewberries are also called sand blackberries. They are very similar to regular blackberries, but trail along the ground in vines rather than grow upright on canes.

Another difference I have noted when making cobblers, is that dewberries do not seem to give up as much juice in cooking. Consequently you will generally need to add something like orange juice to the recipe.