Since owls are primarily nocturnal hunters, I wonder if they consider that first mouse caught just after sundown “breakfast”? Once upon a time, I worked a regularly changing shift schedule. Four days were from 0700-1500, the next four from 1500-2300, then next 2300-0700 and then I enjoyed four days off. The four days off were quite nice, but 12 days of changing hours every four days with no break – not that great. Meals were a challenge for poor Gini as she tried to keep the kids on a schedule but I never knew whether to eat scrambled eggs at 2200 or a sandwich or roast chicken and salad. Apparently, I worked it out and did not starve.
Now that modern medicine has declared everything we ate in our youth is either poison or caused us to be ugly (Gini obviously avoided those things), it’s much easier to decide what to consume each day. Oatmeal, fruit, green stuff or some kind of bean. Since all the joy of preparing and sharing a meal has been sucked out of our lives, we try to make up for it by having some of our meals in the beautiful outdoors. Fortunately, we have found a few spots where the ambience is so breathtakingly wonderful it just doesn’t matter what we’re eating.
One of these is particularly suited to beginning a day peacefully as the sun breaks the horizon over the deep blue of water and gorgeous greens of reeds, lilies and huge trees. Breakfast here is usually accompanied by the chatter of gallinules and coots, the calls of limpkins, a shriek of a red-shouldered hawk or the muffled gobbles of a flock of turkeys under the oaks. Coleman’s Landing on the western shore of huge Lake Kissimmee has picnic tables, boat ramps, a floating dock, restrooms and has recently added modern campsites, including spaces for RV’s and new shower facilities. A visit here at any time of day is refreshing.
Less than 30 minutes from the house is one of Florida’s jewels, Colt Creek State Park. Since it’s so close, we can have an impromptu lunch by the shore of a sparkling lake while we watch bluebirds catch caterpillars, grebes dive for fish, swallows swarm in front of us, eagles soar overhead and chickadees scold from the trees. If we tire of looking at the water (which hasn’t happened yet), we could enjoy an open field of wildflowers full of butterflies and dragonflies or hike through mixed hardwood and conifer forest or check out the swampy wetlands for barred owls or wading birds. A weekday visit here usually finds us with the place to ourselves and it’s so soothing to close our eyes and not hear any human-made sounds. The wind rustling a tree top, a fish splashing in the lake, a bumble bee, a wren declaring himself available for love – who cares what’s for lunch?
Pictures. One thousand words each.
At Coleman’s Landing, the breeze ruffled the feathers of a Red-shouldered Hawk as he scanned the water’s edge for his own breakfast.
A pair of Belted Kingfishers clucked at us and each other – probably about disputed territory.
I couldn’t get this Prairie Warbler to face the camera but he’s beautiful from any angle.
Mating Halloween Pennants blend in well with their environment.
A visit to Colt Creek State Park coincided with several species of wildflower blooming which, happily, attracted a few insects. The Gulf Fritillary is hard to miss even at a distance.
White Peacocks seemed to be everywhere.
This Sleepy Orange finally sat still for a couple of seconds after I got dizzy chasing him through a field.
Eastern Lubber Grasshoppers are pretty easy to see thanks not only to their size (up to 3 inches/8 cm) but also to just a little bit of gaudy color.
One of our larger dragonflies, the Great Blue Skimmer, can be identified by the powdery blue body, greenish eyes, dark wings and white face.
Carolina Saddlebags is one of our most abundant dragons.
Overhead, a trio of White Ibis flapped lazily in the bright blue sky.
A small wetland attracts good numbers of waders, such as a Little Blue Heron.
The proliferation of Apple Snails near most bodies of water in central and south Florida has seen an increase in the range of the Limpkin, who feeds almost exclusively on these freshwater mollusks.
We really enjoy having a meal while surrounded by the extraordinary beauty of nature. All of a sudden, the actual food often becomes secondary. No matter what you call your next meal, try having it outside, under a tree, by a lake, listening to the birds.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!