Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Silver River SP March 26, 2009

We would only be at the park two nights, and we decided to rent a cabin rather than pitch a tent! This was the first time that we had stayed in a cabin and the bathroom and kitchen were convenient. Possibly, we'll do this again in the future!

We paddled the river during the morning and early afternoon, and biked the trails during the afternoon and early evening.

The water was crystal clear, and the trees were vibrant with new leaves in bright shades of green.

The water level in the surrounding swamp was down, and the cypress roots formed ribbons, caves, and spirit villages.

Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

Nesting Cormorants

Flirting with disaster!

Young White Ibis

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Bike & Ross Allen Trails

Additional Information:

Our paddle started at the state park launch area. The carry is 3/4 of a mile, or canoes can be rented at the state park. Silver Springs is upstream from the launch.

Silver River State Park - http://www.floridastateparks.org/Silverriver/

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Roosters

Contrary to what I had believed for many years, roosters do not limit their crowing to the early hours of dawn. The one that roosts in the large oak tree that graces my home with its beauty, often crows throughout the day and night, like a cuckoo clock that signals each passing hour. My granddaughter Elayna once stated upon awaking early one morning, “Granya, I know why farmers wake up so early, because the roosters are very loud.” I replied, “Elayna, those roosters have kept me awake all night!"

Tres was once part of a gang of three affectionately known to us as the Three Amigos. On the fringe of the group, not really fitting in, but tolerated by the three was a bantam rooster aptly named Little One. A fifth rooster was only permitted to join the others when it was time to rest each night; he was the last to go to roost and the first to leave each morning. At some point he had been forced into exile by the Three Amigos, and now resided with four mallard ducks by a pond on an adjoining lot. He was named Dock because he now seemed to be part duck and part cock. Should Dock attempt to cross the line prior to roost time, a fight would quickly ensue and he would soon be forced back over the fence to lay with the ducks. The only exception was when a predatory hawk was on the hunt for poultry. Soon all the roosters would be uttering a loud cry of warning and seeking shelter from the prey. Only then would Dock be allowed to join the others and once the danger was past, he would be promptly ushered back over the fence.

Queen over all the roaming fowl was a large, beautiful peahen that went by MamaPea. She had initially been known as Diane until the death of her partner Jack. Once Jack passed, Diane no longer suited this matronly bird, and soon all called her MamaPea. She wondered the property and adjacent street with a calm stride, only occasionally striking out at a stray cat or rooster that got too close. Each morning she would make her way to the back stoop where she would take hours to clean and groom her feathers. Later, she would wonder into the yard seeking rest under the shade of a tree. On very hot days she could be found standing in the bird bath, cooling her feet.

Interestingly, MamaPea was usually the first to spot a predator as it soared through the sky. She would signal a warning, and the roosters would quickly heed her advice. As they scurried for cover, she would actually stand and defend against the hawk. As the bird swept low in an effort to nab a rooster, MamaPea would jump at him, attacking the marauder. Early one evening, a young red-shouldered hawk attacked a rooster that that had just sought refuge for the night. The shocked rooster and hawk flew through the air, landing in the bushes below. Both rolled violently on the ground and raucous calls of struggle rang out.
The peahen flew from the oak to the rooftop where she loudly shrieked in protest. The hawk was unable to gain the upper hand, and Tres fortunately survived the incident. Being assaulted while at roost disarmed the cock. He stood on top of the wooden fence for more than an hour voicing his objection to the incident. Finally, he calmed and retreated to his sanctuary. All the while, MamaPea stood guard until he was settled for the night.

We had been camping for several days, and upon returning home we found Little One sick and barely able to stand. At that time, we realized that Uno and Dos were absent. Little One died that evening, and Uno and Dos never returned. Little One was a gentle rooster and his departure was greatly missed.

Soon Tres would seek fellowship with MamaPea, walking with her as she wondered the property, resting beside her in the grass, and roosting with her each night. She was gracious and accepting of his presence. While she will quickly come to his aid when a predator is seeking prey, she will swiftly send him packing should he attempt to assume her position. With the demise of the gang of Amigos, Dock can sometimes be seen milling in the vicinity. Just as MamaPea accepts Tres, he is now more apt to abide Dock’s company.


ACT I – The Transgression

How does one forgive when the hurt is so great,
The wound so deep,
The divide so wide,
One claims sacrifice,
The other sees greed,
One claims love,
The other sees betrayal,
Come down off your cross martyr,
No souls will you save.

What echoes from the scripture,
What thoughts run through your head,
Do your dreams bring peace,
Or does a cold chill course through you,
Do your imaginings bring calm, or are you filled with dread,
Do you awake with a shock when you glimpse the fiery depths below?

Confession soothes the soul,
Repentance eases the sorrow,
Go make your declaration,
Your remorseful affirmation,
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

ACT 2 – Sweet Surrender

I look into the still water,
And transgression is reflected,
As I judge, I will be judged,
So, I will climb down from my cross,
Like my brother, no souls will I save,
When I’ve claimed sacrifice,
Others saw greed,
When I’ve claimed love,
Others saw betrayal,
Hail Mary, full of grace…,
Let my heart be filled with mercy for the one that caused me pain.


The sincerity a falsehood that few would recognize,
So confident, so sure,
All part of a lavish disguise,
Like a graceful ballerina in a dance so beautifully choreographed,
The exploits seemed pure,
The abandon so wise,
No suspicion would arise.

Beware the cover,
All a cover,
A fabrication of cock-and-bull,
The saga does unfold,
Contain the anger, keep mum the fear,
Nightmarish whispers and lingering exposure,
A sculpture with chisel appears,
And figments drift away.

Warning, warning the siren sounds,
No truth, all lies,
Convenient orchestration,
Masterful manipulation,
A cloak of openness hides the despair that threatens to spit forth from the depths below,
The pain that lay dormant now festers,
The rot that simmers oozes upward,
The veil slips, a flicker of hope,
After the maddening fire storm, clarity smolders.


Sitting on the shore, tired and alone,
he starred at the river as it flowed swiftly by.
His life had moved as fast as the water,
and now at sixty, regret etched his face.
His sorrow grew deeper as he realized his losses were due
to the choices he’d made.

The sky grew dark,
distant thunder sounded.
Gently, rain began to fall.
As the storm increased,
he looked toward heaven
and tears of shame ran down his face.
With prayerful surrender, he softly whispered,
“Oh God, heal my fate.
Wash my sins away.”

Beloved Jack

After a long nights work at the hospital, I arrived home and looked out the top half of the kitchen door. The sun was beginning to dry the morning dew that glistened on the lawn. The peahen and guinea were ambling over the grass in search of food, while several roosters meandered near the fence line. I noticed a peacock feather near the patio and then another. For a moment I was thankful that Jack had blessed me with a long awaited feather.

But soon I observed large feathers spread over the yard in clumps forming a path, and I knew without seeing that at the end he lay dead. I quickly unlocked the door and headed to where his broken body lay open, his remains devoured. I was saddened and wondered what had dared attack such a large and powerful bird. The imprint of a substantial sized raccoon paw was evident in the dirt next to where the peacock rested. I was angry. Unlike the hawk that had swiftly broken the neck of a guinea fowl five months earlier, it was evident that Jack and the coon had battled and in the end the less ferocious had not survived.

No longer would he grace us with his royal beauty, his green and copper iridescent feathers that held hundreds of bright blue eyes spread wide like flowers blooming in spring time. Or when at rest, the plume of colors trailing behind and resembling the long train of a woman’s brightly colored ball gown. No longer would he peck at the glass on the door awaiting pieces of bread, and then turning to squawk at the guinea that clumsily stepped upon his plumage. No longer would he proudly prance and vibrate his feathers in an effort to impress his lifelong mate, Diane.

When Jay arrived home from work he buried the remains, marking the site with stones. White hibiscus were picked from a nearby bush and distributed over the stones. As rose scented incense drifted heavenward, we thanked God and the peacock for blessing us with his presence.

Fallen Prey


The air was cool on this early November morning and a gentle breeze caused the tree tops to sway hypnotically to and fro. Dew glistened on portions of the lawn and a peacock and his peahen partner pecked at the grass, followed by a pair of black and white feathered guinea fowl. Several of the neighbor’s brightly colored roosters and hens scratched for worms in the rich garden soil. A stray black cat lazed in the sun by the pool, and a freight train rumbled in the distance.

A red-tailed hawk soared in the clear sky above and without warning the raptor swiftly dove and grasped one of the wandering guinea within its talons and beak, pinning it securely to the ground. The roosters, hens and sister guinea scattered and began loudly issuing cries of warning. The air was filled with the crows of brightly colored roosters as they made their exit, squirrels chattered loudly and scurried from tree to tree, jaybirds shrilled overhead, and the surviving guinea paced nervously a short distance from her brother that lay dead within the falcon’s tight clench, its neck broken. Cackling incessantly she tried to locate an area in the fence that would allow her to slip to safety. The quiet was shattered by the deafening noise, and ignoring the confusion, the hawk pulled its prey into the shadows of nearby foliage.

Unaware, the guinea had fallen victim to the winged hunter; his life extinguished quickly. The powerful hawk was merciful in ending the guineas life, but slow and meticulous in consuming his prey. Black and white speckled feathers were plucked and strewn about the ground as hour after hour he picked at the remains, only pausing when he heard a more powerful predator overhead. I wondered whether the large bald eagle that hovered above hoped to seize the hawk’s prize, but he soon glided toward a nearby lake abundant with fish. Sometime later a tan and red rooster stood on top of the wooden fence and crowed loudly, as if he were issuing a challenge to the hawk. The satisfied bird barely acknowledged the rooster’s presence, realizing the captor is stronger than the prey. When a second hawk that was larger than the first rested on top of a power pole and let out a warning cry, any remaining roosters and hens scattered. Shortly thereafter, the larger hawk took flight disappearing over the rooftop. The hunter continued to fill himself with his prey.


Goodness reaching all, continually, eternally.


And he sits waiting and watching,
Wandering when I'll notice; when I'll listen;
when I'll observe; when I'll look within myself.
Patiently, very patiently,
Peacefully, happily, lovingly waiting."Look within," he whispers.
"Just look within.There the answers lie to all your questions.
"Deep, deep within; so often ignored, overlooked.

In a corner he sits.
His legs crossed, his head tilted slightly to one side.
A patient smile upon his face.
Waiting and watching.
"Look within yourself," he whispers.
"Just trust, have faith.

"Unaware, I look toward him and he smiles a patient smile.
He closes the distance between us,
And gently holds my face in his hands, kissing my forehead.
"I love you my child; I'll care for you my child;
Have hope, have faith and always, always look within.

"Ignorant of his presence, I feel a calm surge inside me.
I smile as I realize that I can overcome all the hate,
the pain, the sorrow that I might encounter.
Deep within a voice whispers, "Have faith, have hope, know love.
Share faith, share hope and share love.

"With a smile upon his face my angel sits patiently,
lovingly waiting, watching and whispering.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Silver River SP, February 2009

Spent the day biking the trails at Silver River State Park. Serene and beautiful.

I enjoy meditating upon trees and reflecting upon the wisdom and strength that rests quietly within. Cypress is one of my most favorite trees, very calming and tranquil. If one looks closely, tribal peoples and villages may be found hidden amongst the knees.

Additional Information:
Note: Canoe rentals are available at the state park. Canoes/kayaks may be launched at the park, but it requires a 3/4 mile carry. A launch is also available at Ray's Wayside Boat Basin on State Hwy 40 for a nominal fee.