Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

April 28, 2013

Pollinators and Pesticides

It was a bit difficult to choose a topic equally as important as Earth Day for today's conversation.
But think this may do.
Let's talk about bees and the wondrous world of pollinators.
If like me, or maybe not, you were not an expert on their very vital purpose on our planet, here are a few thoughts.
It is quite simple, without pollinators, not much would grow, including a great deal of the world's food supplies.
They simply said are, one of man's, forgive me Breanna, best friends.
Pollinators can be seen on any warm day, flitting from one plant, or flower to another, taking and leaving what we humans need to survive.
But, consider this, the bees and many pollinators all over the Earth may soon no longer exist, why you ask?
Their imminent demise is being blamed on, what in our time, has become the single most detrimental toxin that any living thing can be exposed to, pesticides.
And the pesticides that may soon wipe out our pollinating friends, are neonicotinoid pesticides.
Pesticides harm people, plants and animals equally, as they are an equal opportunity killer.
Once their poisons get into our water sources, we are all goners.
Remember Erin Brockovich?
Ask the residents of McFarland, California, in the great San Joaquin Valley, where the continual use of pesticides on their crops, poisoned the entire areas water supply and a great many of their children now have leukemia.
There are many groups and individuals working diligently to reverse the damage already done by these toxins.
One of these groups is the Center for Food Safety, who is asking for your commitment to help stop this disaster in progress, by taking a "pledge to protect the pollinators."
The world of pollinators is made up of not only bees, but many of their friends, which includes hummingbirds, butterflies and numerous other helpful insects.
It's a gregarious group effort pollinating all of the worlds growing things you see.  
Ensuring that pollinators will always be here to work for us, is merely a matter of making better choices in our gardens and in the food growing industry.
Your local garden shops will know which ones are eco and pollinator friendly, or just plain safe for all of us!
These changes can be done, these changes must be done, if humans wish to continue to have food to eat and exist.
A place to learn more: Pollinators and Pesticides

April 21, 2013

Embracing Mother Earth On Her Day

Earth Day 2013         
Today is Earth Day, so how should we thank this weary planet for the life-giving, air, water and everything else that she provides us with, that most of us take for granted?
This planet has existed for billions of years, but each year it becomes more and more of a struggle just for her to continue living.
Many of us never give her, or what we do to her, a second thought.
This is a tragic mistake.
One day, unless we change our hearts and minds and begin showing respect and concern for her, Mother Earth may not take care of us any longer, she may not be able to, she may die.
Every day, we fill her Oceans, Rivers and Lakes with garbage, toxins and poisons of all description.
Every day, we pollute her atmosphere, the very air that we all breathe, with more of the same.
Every day, we dig deep into her soul, stripping all that she has, leaving her scarred and wounded, with no concern for the effects of it on her at all.
Every day, we cut down her stunning, majestic trees that nearly touch the sky, for what, more paper to fill up our shredders?
Since we took our first steps on her face, we have taken and taken, rarely giving back and even less often, cared much about the effects of our impact on her.
So, my question to each of us is, yes, including myself, what will you/we do today for Mother Earth?
Have you ever noticed, that after facing an extraordinary danger or imminent death, when first putting their feet back on the planet, many people react by kneeling down and kissing the Earth?
So, on this very special day to Honor her, how should each of us show Mother Earth our gratitude?
As for me, I am going into my garden and pull some weeds, that should make her smile~

What Whales Want

A Right Whale Mother And Calf Off The Florida Coast
Whales are just like us, they want a family, a nice place to live and to be free to live there, in peace.
It’s a nice thought but, unfortunately for them, the Oceans are getting smaller everyday and for the biggest mammal on the planet, are becoming very crowded and may soon become terribly loud.
Right now, seismic blasting is being considered as a potential drilling option in the Atlantic Ocean, in the exact corridor where the single most Endangered Whale on our planet lives and breeds, the Atlantic Right Whale.
The impact of this blasting will be disastrous for them for several reasons, they may be         
harmed directly by the blasting and they will no longer feel safe to breed in the area.
Last year, the birthing numbers for this critically endangered whale was down dramatically,
because of food shortages up North, can you imagine what it will be like, for these extremely
noise sensitive whales, if they are exposed regularly to constant blasting?
It will simply be unbearable.
And, the Whales are not the only ones who will be greatly harmed by this proposed blasting, so will Dolphins.
We do not need to drill or dig, for more oil, gas, coal or other fossil fuels in this Country, what we need are more renewable energy sources.
Which, if it were more profitable for those who deal in fossil fuels, would already have replaced them here.
Other countries all over the world, have long ago embraced renewable energy sources, but America seems to be either unable or unwilling to make the progress absolutely necessary to protect and preserve both the environment and animals of this planet, including the human ones.

Silver Springs

Silver Springs Florida in 1886
Silver Springs Florida in 1886
This is the story of a magical place in Florida that has lost its way.
Once upon a time long, long ago, there was a destination here so revered, you were often, scarcely able to get in.
Tourists loved it, movie makers loved it, the whole world wanted to come see it.
Just hearing its name, Silver Springs, brought a smile to many people’s faces.
In fact, when I was in high school, I met a young man one summer at a local lake in northern Indiana, who also happened to be there on vacation.
It turned out that he was one of their very talented skiing performers, and that summer, he taught me to water ski.
But, that was so long ago.
Today, Silver Springs is badly run down and nearly unrecognizable, by those whose memories burn bright of more exciting times and the never to be forgotten glass bottom boat rides.
For years now the springs has been run and managed? by a California company, guess they didn’t think we could do it right?
But soon that will change and the state of Florida will take over the job, hopefully this will help.
Recently a Canadian Billionaire cattle rancher has shown great interest in setting up shop
just a few miles away and the negative impact from this would be two fold, tremendous water loss and harmful pollutants being introduced into the springs.
Neither would be good.
Water is a very precious commodity in Florida, because the whole state is a giant aquifer or sponge, everything that happens up above, travels down and affects the aquifer and all the living things here.
The many years of water abuse, in combination with this years severe drought, have resulted in an increase in the dreaded and dangerous sink holes which recently sadly, took a life.
We already have way too many places draining our aquifer dry, like the bottling companies, golf courses and huge farming industries, so this massive cattle ranch would be the final nail in the coffin for the springs.
Previous politicians have tried to protect the springs, and it helped somewhat, but current Governor Scott, has cut all of its lifelines, so it will now be up to the state to do the right thing, for one of Florida oldest and most treasured pieces of history.

April 14, 2013


Harriet, our Gopher Tortoise

Yesterday afternoon, just as I was turning off my computer, our wayward wanderer finally graced us with her presence, after many months of complete absence.
Harriet is our resident Gopher Tortoise and she has become a sweet part of our family here in the Ocala Forest in Florida.
It seems that she comes out, just as the “snow birds” are all leaving and yesterday also happened to be our warmest day of the year so far, at just over 90 degrees.
We have learned so much about her particular species in the years we have spent with her.
She has had some very close calls and we have had to fight hard just to save her from a tragic ending on these occasions.
The world around her is not nearly as concerned for her safety as we are and we feel quite obligated to protect her from it.
Gopher Tortoises are an Endangered Species in Florida and it is against the law to harm them in any way, even picking them up and moving them is against the law.
But all of this is forgotten, when each spring, she pops back up out of her tunnel, ready to eat and greet us and the warm season ahead.
We have made sure that she has only what is good for her here, with everything left pretty much “natural” and no pesticides, no toxins or chemicals used in the front part of our property where her main tunnel is.
I say main, because she has a second one in the back where she goes occasionally, for reasons we have not yet determined.
Now we look forward to watching her the rest of the year, coming out to eat every day, moving slowly and carefully around, picking out just the special “weeds” that are her favorites.
Our entire property is fenced in, but the front part is just for her and our Airedale Breanna
and we are careful for both of their sakes, that it is safe from anything that could harm either of them.
We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to share our lives with them.

Nuisance People

Our Florida Alligator

For those of you kind enough to come here, I thank you with all my heart.
Today is my “one month” anniversary on WordPress and your support has overwhelmed me. If you are curious, and why wouldn’t you be, about where the title of this Blog came from, it is this.
Many years ago on our first trip to Florida, we went to the Everglades.
My parents were living in Miami Beach at the time and we thought it would be a fun day trip.
It was the middle of August and in South Florida, August is not when you want to be in the Everglades.
The mosquitoes are like a black blanket that covers everything there.
For two people from Los Angeles, where there are few and I do mean few bugs, it was pretty terrifying.
We spent an entire day there and what we saw, was never to be forgotten and started my love affair with this breathtaking place called Florida.
Now for how this Blog got its name.
On that day, just as we were driving in and being very stupid tourists, we pulled over at the sight of our first Alligator resting peacefully on the side of the road.
Now being the idiot that I was, I got out of the car and walked toward this creature I knew nothing about, both hands stretched out like I was going to pet it.
I have a picture of the moment, which has lost itself somewhere in this house, one day to be found again, I hope.
The Alligator was not full-grown, maybe only four feet long, but it could have done some damage, if it has chosen to.
Instead it simply laid there, I am sure thinking, ” this has got to be a joke, stupid tourist. “
Because it did nothing, I turned and walked back to the car and we drove on.
Only after moving down here nearly ten tears ago, did I realize how very lucky I had been that day.
So, when we became permanent Florida residents, I started a web site and called it “Walking with the Alligators” out of my gratitude for what might have been that day and deep respect for what I consider one of this state’s greatest treasures, the Alligator.
So, as you can imagine, when they announced on the News here last night that they were looking for Alligator Trappers in Lake County, to “Dispose of Nuisance Alligators,” I was pretty steamed.
People come here, to this last Garden of Eden in the United States, with its splendiferous array of wildlife and then when our animals do what they normally do in the wild, these idiots go nuts, calling Fish and Wildlife whining, ” Come get these things out of my yard. “
“ Well, duh, you are in their yard, you morons, so why don’t you get out. “
I have zero patience for city people who want to come here, to my newly adopted home and change it, or kill all that makes it the National Treasure that it is.
Florida is truly a spectacular collection of wild life and wild places and it deserves to be respected for just that.
And if this is a problem for you, please go back where you came from.

April 7, 2013

The Visitors

A Beautiful Florida Black Bear
Photo credit: Dr. William Weber

For many years people have asked me about my complete dedication and passion for animals.
An answer: just now Breanna did her " OMG bark. " This is the one reserved for very special occasions.
I went to her window to look for the cause, but saw nothing at first,  then as I turned back around to look in the other direction, there they were.
The momma and her two babies running at a full gallop in the open field across from our house.
This sight, this experience, is something that should never be taken for granted.
These beautiful black bears and all of the other wildlife living in this Forest, are why this place is everything to us.
We share our lives with creatures that give us so much more, than we could ever give them in return.
For this we are grateful.

Who Let The Dogs Out

A USFWS Detector Dog
Wildlife Inspector Amir Lawal of the Service’s
Miami Law Enforcement Office and Viper
Picture Credit:  Tom MacKenzie / USFWS

Many thanks to Russell McLendon of Mother Nature Network for sharing this great story and vital information.
Many thanks also to Tom MacKenzie of the USFWS, for granting permission to use this picture, his hard work on this awesome project and all of his super pictures for it.

Poaching may not be a big problem in a lot of places, but Florida is not one of those places.

It seems like too many of our wild animals, as well as some highly prized orchids in this state, like the Ghost Orchid, have at one time or another, fallen victim to these fiends,   
who believe it is their right to steal things and then sell them to the highest bidder.
Recently many of our beloved wild turtles have been stolen by the hundreds of thousands, and sold to Asian countries where they are used for food, medicine and other.   
It would seem that these countries have long ago eradicated their turtle populations.   
Trappers or poachers, come to Florida and go into our swamps and marshes or where ever they can find them and just load up and ship out our wild turtles in such numbers, that many of them may soon be put on Endangered lists, when they never were in the past.
Enter my personal heroes, the Sniffer Dogs!

Now, these are not just any dogs, they are very well-trained, professional sniffers and they are doing what few humans can, tracking down or sniffing out, stolen wildlife.
These awesome dogs and their handlers, USFW agents, will soon be stationed at ports around the country and hopefully will help stop the tidal wave of thefts of our beloved Florida wild things to these scum bag poachers.