Sunday, March 31, 2013

And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. ~St Augustine

(Originally posted April 9, 2011)
 "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church, I keep it staying at Home - With a bobolink for a Chorister, And an Orchard, for a Dome." ~Emily Dickinson

The moon & Orion's Belt to the right

I was talking to a fellow fossil hunter on the beach the other day. The conversation had turned toward the existence of God. He confessed to me that he was not religious.  I smiled at him and said "Me neither". I spread my arms out as if to embrace the amazing blue sky we were standing under -  "This is my church" I said. 

 Now I do have a local church  that I am a member of.  I call them my tribe. My tribe knows me well enough that if I lead a prayer meeting it won't be inside the building. It will be outside under a huge oak tree on our property. I am also prone to prayer walk-abouts.  I have a beach fellowship and our patron saint is St. Sharks Tooth & St. Arbuck's. There is something about sharing some time on the beach with friends, listening to the waves, and soaking up some sun that builds friendships. I'm into relationship not religion.  I think most people like the fossil hunter I was talking to don't have a problem with the existence of God.  They just don't get some of the people that say they know Him. 

I guess because Easter is upon us I've been thinking  alot lately about Jesus living in a town on the Sea of Galilee. I bet He took tons of beach walks. I wonder what kind of shells He picked up? Probably calico scallops.  I wonder as He was looking up at the sky at night if He pointed out constellations to His friends.  "Look Guys, there's Orion.  See the 3 stars in the belt. Wait till you find out what that means." It was on the beach 40 years ago sitting under a star-filled sky that I had my first God encounter.  My heart was just suddenly overwhelmed  with the beauty of creation and somewhere deep inside myself I just knew that I knew that I knew.

 After 40 years I know enough about Theology to be dangerous. Over the years I've listened to preachers & teachers. My hobby is studying early Church history.   I've read all the latest books on how to know God till my head has been swimming in information. I always go back to that starry night on the beach 40 years ago.  My heart always knows God in a way my head can not.  It's pretty simple really. The famous Sermon on the Mount that Jesus taught in His huge outdoor cathedral on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea 2,000 years ago can be summed up in 4 words. Love God - Love people.  Works for me.

A sand dollar shell looks sort of like a round white coin, which is where it gets its name

The skeleton of a Crucifix Catfish
 Sciades proops 
(Valenciennes, 1840)
Scallop shell, stained glass, St Andrew's Church, Chelmondiston, Suffolk. The scallop shell is the symbol of St James the Great, one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem collected scallop shells as souvenirs.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear beautiful Spring weather, I miss you. Was it something I said? ~"Skipper" Kim Corbin

At the southern end of Manasota Key lies Stump Pass State Park.  At high tide most of this beach will go under water.

In celebration of the full moon and the minus low tide, I treated myself to a walk out to the end of Stump Pass.  Manasota Key has four public beaches to choose from.  Each beach has it's pros & cons.  The main beach at the roundabout draws the younger crowd. Nothing wrong with that if your thing is dodging Frisbees, volleyballs, & sand kicked up by 16yo's strutting their stuff.  If you are on spring break it is The place to see and be seen. There are several restaurants, tiki bars, and my personal favorite - the Circle K (home of the 69 cent Polar Pop) within walking distance.  I usually speed right past that madness and head for Blind Pass Beach a few miles north. It's remote location and  free parking are more my speed. 

 When there is a really low tide, I head to the very southern end of Manasota Key where Stump Pass State Park is located.  Most of the locals balk at the $3.00 entrance fee but I look at it as my contribution to the upkeep of this little gem of a beach.  The one mile walk from the entrance of the park to the pass at the south end is about a 15 minute jaunt depending on how often you piddle about picking up the sharks teeth and fossils that litter the beach on the way out. 

 Now I know when I say it's cold here in Florida - our cold doesn't hold a candle to a northern winter, especially the blizzard that is marching across the Northeast this week - BUT it was stinking cold out there! (and windy)  I had to wear a winter coat over my usual hoodie sweatshirt! I know wah wah right?

 GOOD NEWS! For the first time in 6 months, biologists detected NO traces of Red Tide in SWFL!! YAY!!

When I see humps like these on my tide chart app I get very excited.

Some beachcombers were in shorts but everyone were wearing their sweatshirts.

All these trenches were uncovered by the outgoing tide.  I like to walk the sides and see if there are any shell stragglers.

Everybody is trying to stay warm.

I think this fella lost his flock.

If birdwatching is your thing - Stump Pass will deliver.  Beside the mixed flock of Royal Terns and assorted gulls there were also nesting Ospreys and a newly hatched family of owls to see on the nature trail that runs up the interior of the park.

The rangers at Stump Pass take great care to protect the wildlife.

A hungry Heron looking for lunch.

The tide is starting to rise.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Million Reasons To Wake Up Early

Just off the top of my head I can think of some really good reasons to get up early to watch the sunrise...

1)  Alone time because the hubby is still sleeping.  2) The world is quiet & still.  3) An early start gives me more productive time during the day.

Yup, I could give you lots of reasons to crawl out of bed for the sunrise.

Maybe even millions of reasons.

As the thunderstorm rolled across SWFL late last night, I knew I would wake up before dawn to see what had rolled in.

No need for an alarm clock or wake up app.

Just to sit on the beach and watch it wake up is reason enough.

Monday, March 18, 2013

“When life sucks and hands you lemons, I say beat the crap out of it and demand some Florida oranges as well.” -unknown

"Excuse me, do you live here?" I was asked as I stood in the Englewood  Walmart deli line waiting for the discombobulated deli guy to slice my lunch meat for the week. 

 It could have been the bright aqua blue t-shirt with sand dollars all over the back that I was wearing or maybe it was the hot pink Havaianas flip-flops I was wearing in 55 degree weather - but it was obviously a sure fire bet that I was a local.

  Next question - "Do you know where I can get some really good Key Lime Pie?" Really Is a 3 pound seagull fat? This Florida girl knows her way around A key lime pie.

Some things to know:

~Authentic Florida Key Lime pie is yellow not green.
~Real Key Lime pie is topped with whipped cream not meringue but the topping is really a personal preference.
~The filling has to be tart enough to make your lips  pucker up. 

This is what an authentic piece of Key Lime Pie should look like with the exception of the not-key limes in the photo.

My favorite recipe for Key Lime pie comes from Nellie & Joe's Famous Lime Juice.  It's on the back of every bottle.  (Tip - I substitute Lorna Doone cookie crumbs for the graham cracker.)

 Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Pie
  • 9" graham cracker pie crust
  • 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks (whites not used)
  • ½ cup Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice
Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350ยบ for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream, or meringue, and garnish with lime slices.

The best store-bought Key Lime Pie is made by a Florida company called Publix.  The filling is sweet-tart, the topping is whipped cream & they add an almond garnish on the crust which is a nice touch.  For $6.99 you can't beat it.  

Another tasty store-bought Key Lime pie is the Edwards brand found in the frozen section.  They make whole pies or "little nippers" aka single slices.

For more key lime recipes CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. ~Raymond Inmon

So true! Sign for sale by Country Marketplace.
Walking provides an easy & inexpensive way to get fit.  It's good for the body and the soul.  Walking gets the heart pumping, detoxes your lymph system and gets the ole head back into good space.  I've tried walking every day but my schedule is kinda crazy and it just doesn't work out for me.  My rule of thumb is not to go 2 days in a row without walking at least 2 miles.  I do tend to get bored walking the same path all the time.  A beach walk is the perfect way to mix things up. We had a rainy day here in SWFL so today was perfect to walk the 1.3 miles out to the end of Stump Pass and back.  It was a light, drizzly rain (for the most part) so I donned my raincoat and got moving.

The tide was rising on the very southern end of Stump Pass State Park.

At low tide this sandbar is uncovered leaving a nice siesta spot for the birds.  In another hour it will be submerged as the tide rises.

We humans could take a lesson about co-existence from these birds. Thankfully there was no signs of red tide although the wrack line was littered with fish carcasses.

This huge shell pile was going under the water fast.

The shell trees are in bloom again.

A pelican parade against the grey sky.

Beach walking is never boring.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

“Don't wish me happiness I don't expect to be happy all the time... It's gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all.” ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

The good news  - there are shells.  The bad news - the red tide makes it impossible to breathe to get to said shells.

It is extremely helpful when one is a beach blogger to be able to go to the beach.  Sure, I could blog about a new recipe I made from Pinterest, my latest find at Goodwill or heaven forbid a table scape (mine are the ones with the matching cool whip salad bowls). We all know you are here for the sand, shells & sharks teeth right?  Well, me too.  The Red Tide algae bloom that has been traveling up and down the SWFL coastline since October 2012 has put a major damper on everyone's beach going.  The 120 mile long floating algae bloom has been causing sneezing, hacking & burning eyes as it meanders back and forth off the Sarasota, Lee & Collier county coastline.  Sadly, it is killing a record number of manatees according to a story by the Associated Press.

My beach  blogging has also been curtailed by an injury called SBS or Shell Bucket Shoulder.  I learned the hard way that carrying a heavy bucket full of shell goodies is not the best thing for an over-50-something shoulder.  It also could have been the digging with my shell shovel into a huge shell pile  but then the injury would be called SSS instead of the before mentioned SBS... whatever it hurts like a mammy jammer.  I got stuck in the Beall's Department Store changing room with my head stuck in the tight shirt I was trying on because I couldn't raise my arm. A traumatized Pookie had to rescue me.  I've also had to pass on my kayaking until I am healed up.  I don't want to be on the wrong end of a sea tow call because I could only paddle with one arm.

But as all of us in Blogdom know -  blogger friends are the best friends and recently I received a package in the mail that contained a special copy of my  all-time favorite book "Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Last month the author's daughter Reeve was on Sanibel at the Bookshop for a book signing.  A blogger friend who was there to get his own copy signed thoughtfully had a copy signed for me as a gift.

“...I want first of all - in fact, as an end to these other desires - to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact - to borrow from the language of the saints -to live 'in grace' as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, "May the outward and the inward man be at one".  I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh p.17-18 GFTS

First published in 1955 GFTS has sold over 3 million copies in 45 different languages.

A gift from the heart from a person who "gets" GFTS.

So regardless of red tide or frozen shoulder - I am happily living in that state of grace. If you have never read "Gift From the Sea" I highly recommend it. My favorite chapter is "Channeled Whelk" Just as the waves,wind and the tidal rhythms at the beach calm us and enable us to take a deeper breath, this little timeless book accomplishes the same thing for me every time I read it.