And, Now, For Her Next Trick —

Header Image: Roosting Cedar Waxwings

Zucchini. Taste a slice. The word you are trying to avoid saying is “bland“. That’s why it is served with other stuff. Breading, cheese, onions, disguised in a salad with other bland ingredients to which a tasty dressing is added.

Gini is a true magician. She took zucchini, mixed a few secret powders and potions, poured the resulting mixture into a loaf pan and placed it in a hot oven. The ensuing aroma which spread into every nook and cranny of the house caused one to inhale deeply and saliva involuntarily tried to escape from hungry mouths.

Yesterday morning, sitting next to each other in the cool air of a March morning, overlooking a lake where a Great Blue Heron blinked at the rising sun, a slice of Zucchini bread and a sip of hot tea formed my personal definition of perfection. She took a dull green vegetable and transformed it into an irresistible substance. Magical.

Nature is a true magician. A few weeks ago, bare tree limbs and brown weeds greeted us on our outdoor excursions. Now, as we step into the forest or swamp, we are slapped in the face with splashes of the bright green of newly sprouted tree leaves, the indescribable hues of blooming wildflowers and the bustling of animals, birds and insects rushing to do what it takes to ensure the survival of their species.

Cardinals appear more red, bluebirds more blue, a yellow butterfly looks like – well – butter, dragonflies seem to be flying jewels. Spring. Renewal. Magical.

As the sun’s rays streak over the tree line, a Great Blue Heron scans the water for her first meal of the day.

Small and handsome, a male Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) has emerged after a few years living as a nymph under water.

American White Pelicans are fairly common in our area even though we are over an hour away from the coast.

Dozens of Eastern Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis) seemed to be everywhere as they pursued food and each other. Powder blue body and green face identify this one as a male.

Also numerous today were Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis). This female gave us the eye(s) as she waited from her perch for breakfast to fly into view.

The rattling call of the Belted Kingfisher let us know we were encroaching on his fishing spot. We respectfully retreated.

A shiny black abdomen helps separate this Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) from its Bumblebee cousin.

Gilded in gold, when the sunlight strikes at the right angle, the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) really can resemble a precious jewel in flight.

In our area, we have three “broadsaddle” saddlebag dragonflies: Black, Carolina and Red. As expected, the Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) shows a lot of black as opposed to mostly red in the other two.

Normally seen zipping back and forth near the shore of a lake, we got lucky and found both male and female Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps) perched. They’re pretty unmistakable with that unique wing pattern.

Male
Male
Female
Female

We weren’t the only observers interested in all the Spring insect activity. An Eastern Phoebe needs to consume a lot of bugs to provide enough energy for the trip to her more northerly breeding grounds.

Looking like some piece of artistic embroidery, a White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) rested a moment in the weeds while we marveled at its beauty.

After a dry winter, the water level in some of the bogs is low enough to allow a slog in the mud which pretty soon won’t be possible. (Well, not for me, as I have an extreme allergy to Cottonmouth Moccasins and nesting Alligators.) Along the bog’s edge, a dense growth of Savanna Iris (Iris savannarum) certainly put an exclamation point on our already colorful day!

Gini’s wizardry amazes me on a daily basis. She transforms the ordinary into something quite special. In all seasons, but especially Spring, Nature offers us glimpses of fantasy which can be hard to believe are real. Human nature tends to dwell on the negative while longing for something positive. That longing is called “Hope“. It exists in every sunrise, every butterfly, every flower.

Embrace the magic.

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.

24 Comments on “And, Now, For Her Next Trick —

  1. The Zucchini bread sounds yummy. I’ve been making blueberry muffins with our FL blues! And yes, the colors are brilliant right now. And we are seeing SO many dragonflies. I’ll have to look closely at the few we’ve photographed this week and see if I can ID them. What a wonderful time of year to enjoy Florida! Today is cloudy with sprinkles of rain so we’ll wait until tomorrow to get out again. A rain day here is like a snow day up North! heehee! Enjoy your week and thanks for figuring out the IDs and helping me to learn a few. Diane

    Like

    • Good Morning, Diane!

      Gini actually used some of our FL blues in that bread. Terrific bursts of sweetness!

      Each day is a blessing for us and if we get outdoors, it’s even better. We are all in a constant “learning mode”, especially when it comes to Nature.

      The weekend is here and the coming week promises to provide more adventure for us all!

      Like

  2. I know just what you mean there Wally. Sue is a magician too. She can make a bottle of Gordons vanish before my very eyes.

    We have blossom and opening leaves even though the north winds continue to blow and prevent new arrivals from Africa, so it feels like a “normal” rather than an exciting spring that will bring something unusual. There have been a few Ospreys in the area, but very few warblers, not even a Willow Warbler or Blackcap yet.

    Those pelicans don’t seem real do they? Like something from a Disney film that I watched as a kid. Was that Percy?

    But it was good to see you on form with the insect photos. Your prowess gives me hope that I can take a good insect shot if I could just leave off the birdy ones.

    Like

    • About this time, Sue is likely contemplating a different sort of disappearing act ……

      Good news! Even “normal” Springs are pretty special.

      We are fortunate to have both American White and Brown Pelicans here all year. It’s fascinating to visit a pier at the coast to watch their different fishing techniques.

      I have finally found the secret to vastly improving my photographic skills. I will likely have a Tee-shirt emblazoned with my photo motto: “Better Lucky Than Good”. Thank goodness we no longer have to buy film. I might be forced to concentrate on actually becoming a better technician.

      Today’s cuppa just isn’t the same without green gourd bread. Sigh.

      Like

  3. I’m here from your comment link at Phil’s…thought I’stop by to say hello (I used to peruse your blog often). Oh boy, did you say warm zucchini bread?!! Delicious, I know. I really enjoyed reading this post. Being an avid birder at heart, I was enthralled! My personal blog today has piping plovers. Enjoy your evening.

    Like

    • Holy Hootin’ Moley! A voice from the past!

      Thank you so much for dropping by and saying such nice things.

      I can’t believe I dropped off visiting your blog. That shall be rectified pretty darned quick. Since we consider ourselves “Honorary Texans”, your wonderful site helps us keep up with bird happenings there.

      See you soon!

      Like

  4. Zucchini bread! One of the few taste treats I can reasonably prepare. Last year was the first that we did not grow zukes. Not to fear, just about every other gardener we know had plenty to spread around. Usually zucchini is a garden plague and one doesn’t know where to unload them all.
    Really happy to see your collection of odes, and that Rambur’s Forktail seems to have an electric bulb at the end of its abdomen ready to glow in the dark. Nice study of the Prince Baskettail genders too.

    Like

    • Yes, early in our marriage we were amazed at how easy it was to grow zucchini. Gini’s wizardry in the kitchen helped but, as you said, finding folks who weren’t already stocked up on that veggie was a challenge.

      Each successive day now, the odes seem to be multiplying exponentially! If only I could keep up with them.

      We hope this new week brings you good things.

      Like

  5. Totally inspired by this blog post, Wally, if I was a youinger man, and more able to travel than I feel comfortable with these days, I would now be planning a trip to Florida to witness first-hand those wonderful dragonflies, and eagerly looking forward to the possibility of meeting up with a couple of people that I feel very at home with, even though I have never met them – I refer, of course, to yourself and Gini. I might even be tempted by zucchini – there’s always a first time!

    My threatened two days in hospital at the end of the week turned out to be just a single day when they decided to work on me under a local anaesthetic rather than general. All seems to be good.

    My very best wishes to you both – – – Richard

    Like

    • Florida’s Odonata population would welcome your visit any time, Richard!

      So would a couple of local natives we know. We wouldn’t even force you to eat a transformed gourd, although once you tasted Gini’s bread, an addiction may form.

      We’re relieved to hear all appears to be good following a trip to the hospital. One of my least favorite destinations.

      A new week is upon us! Gini and I truly hope you and Lindsay remain well.

      Like

  6. Such a collection of dragonflies! I can recognize a couple of species now, but I’ve so much more to learn, and photos like yours really help. Oddly, I’ve not yet seen a dragonfly, although damselflies are beginning to appear. Did you take these photos with a long lens? As flitty as they can be (except for the Halloween Pennant, which seems to adore perching), it’s been hard for me to get close to them.

    It’s great fun to see which of the spring blooms we share — you have irises, too! As for those White Pelicans, I think I saw the last of ours departing last Thursday. I happened to look up and see them circling high, high in the sky, as they seem to do when they’re arriving in fall, or leaving in the spring. Sure enough: when I looked yesterday, their pilings were empty.

    Speaking of sharing, I’ve been aware of your rain because I sometimes listen to Astros baseball when I’m working. Their spring training’s in Palm Beach, so it’s easy to keep up with your weather when rain delays are on the docket. I suppose the good news is that zucchini bread can be eaten indoors as well as in the field!

    Like

    • I’m still learning about how to best photograph the dragons. All the advice available has been very helpful: shoot early in the morning when they may be less active; learn the habitat of various species; approach the subject slowly; position you camera sensor parallel to the subject.

      Yep. I have a lot to learn. All those tips are excellent. The only tiny problem is: them bugs don’t hold still very long!

      I have two favorite lenses for dragons. One is a fixed 300mm which is great if I can get close enough and there’s sufficient light. The workhorse lens I use 80% of the time is a 150-600mm which I like because I can snap a close-up and zoom out a bit to show the habitat.

      As I said, I am definitely still in the learning mode!

      Gini and I are always fascinated by the similarity in flora of the various places we have lived. Nature’s beauty knows no borders.

      Have a great new week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for bringing some wonderful words and photos to my browser this morning Wally. And that zucchini bread sounds marvelous.

    I would say that I hope you realize how lucky you are, but I’m pretty sure you do.

    Like

  8. You present a rich and varied introduction to spring in the wetlands! And you give me hope… if the lowly zucchini can be elevated to warm and savory status, then truly we can turn almost anything around!

    Like

  9. As to zucchini bread – every fall we are inundated with the gourd, and we make loaves and loaves of zucchini bread, tasty as could be, delicious in fact. Until about the fourth loaf, that is…….Even people to whom we have gifted the bread in exchange for their zucchini give us that knowing look that says “No more, please.” No doubt, everyone else to whom they have given zucchini brings them zucchini bread, zucchini muffins etc. “Enough already” they, and we, seem to say! I’m ready to put it back in the stir fry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have, indeed, experienced that “look”, David!

      Gini has learned to alter the recipe over the years. This year she added fresh blueberries, walnuts and a bit of shredded coconut. I have requested she not share any just yet.

      Like

      • We have differences in each loaf, Wally, raisins and cranberries one, nuts and dried apple in another, chopped dried apricots in another, and so on, but It’s still zucchini bread at the end of the day!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful glimpses into your magical spring renewal. Your corner of the country is definitely ahead of ours, but the astounding springtime transformation is happening here as well, and every day brings a new and wonderful discovery.
    Happy April to you two,
    Tanja

    Like

  11. Spring is a magical time isn’t it? And packed to the gunnels with hope.
    Mind you, I think Nature is the BEST artist, at any time of the year. And her galleries are superb.
    Thank you for these glorious captures of some of her wonders…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: