Amy's Landscape

Views from the Florida Landscape

Show Queens of the South

Azaleas are the show queens of the South.  Where the Carolinas and Tennessee may boast their versions of that rhododendron with abundant pride, Florida considers itself the Azalea capital of the world.

Azalea varieties abound profusely, from the petite Duc DeRohan to the spectacular Indica Formosa that grows to tree size.  Azaleas come in countless colors and combinations including white, red, every variant of magenta or purple and Florida boasts them all with rightful vanity in a spring to summer display to beat all challengers.

The one thing they have in common is that they are acid loving plants that flourish in a rich, organic environment.  The wrong soil will quickly spell an end to the life of the most hearty azalea, where the right acidic soil found under every spreading oak will cause azaleas to thrive even in the wild with no human intervention.

Are you in the right soil?  Do you surround yourself with people who challenge you to be your best, confront you when you’re off the path and encourage you when you’re onto something good?  Or are you allowing yourself to be drained by others with no end to the flow?

What’s your environment like?  Are you surrounded with negativity, by people who continually zero in on what’s wrong or look for problems to steep themselves in?

Do you thrive on drama instead of admitting your contribution to the situation so you can grow up, change and move forward?

Do you get enough fresh air and sunshine, taking time to get outdoors to praise God for whatever beauty you find around you, and thank him for what you DO have instead of whining for more?

What do you focus your thoughts on?  Are you enriched with the nutrients you find in the Word of God and input that uplifts and challenges you, or are you sluggish and isolated because you don’t know what God wants for you or expects of you?

Maybe you need a soil check.  Ask yourself those questions and examine where your head and heart have been lately.  Next, admit to God and others where you’ve been off the mark, ask Christ to forgive you and get moving in a new direction.  It’s not as hard as it seems,  but it takes humility to look honestly at our soil and make the changes we need to thrive and not wilt.

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January 27, 2012 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, Gardening, God in the everyday, Landscaping, Nature, Parenting, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Your Spanish Moss?

Nothing gives so fine a touch to landscaping as edging.  The whirring metal blade carves a distinct line, making every planter look crisp, every driveway or sidewalk appear clean and orderly.

But all Southern landscapers know that just one touch of that blade’s tip on a piece of Spanish moss and instantaneously, the moss will be drawn in and wound tightly around the blade housing.

The smart landscaper knows this to be an inescapable reality and will humble her (or him) self to bend down and move the offending moss out of the way of the blade before the consequences come due.

But, over again, I would say to myself, “This time, it will be different.  Just this once, I will be the victor; I will do it my way without the same outcome, without the same result…”

And every time, without exception, I would have to relearn the lesson.  No matter how fast the blade turned, no matter how much I revved the motor to plow through the moss, the moss always won.

The moments I intended to save by refusing to bend down and collect the moss were lost, and the payment was minutes wasted picking out every tiny piece of moss wound tightly around the blade and housing, sometimes so tightly I had to stop everything and get a pair of needle-nose pliers to pick away at the tighter strands.

Why do we continually think we can get away with something we’ve already seen won’t work; that somehow, even though we do the same dumb thing, this time it will be different, somehow WE are different and we won’t pay the penalties?

God puts consequences in place so we’ll do the smart thing, the right thing, the good thing, for us and those in our lives.  Why do we choose to go back to that thing we know is wrong for us, hoping somehow this time it will be different?  How many times do we have to do the same thing and get the same result until we choose to plug in a different move or humble ourselves and do it his way instead of ours?

What is that one thing you refuse to give in over and give up to God’s sovereignty?

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, Gardening, God in the everyday, Landscaping, Nature, Parenting, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pruning of Me and the Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtles are abundant in the South, their showy poms on display with great regularity from spring to fall in every shade of vibrant purple through delicate pink imaginable, even to lacy whites.  Yet every winter, no matter how mild, these proud giants are brought to naught, stripped of their elegant beauty and barely a leaf remains, mere naked frames before the winter scene.

The prudent gardener knows, though, that before the first spring’s tender leaf appears, major surgery must be performed.  Across the Florida landscape, gardeners enact what appears to be a violent attack upon these vulnerable beauties, severely pruning them back to nearly half their size, down to meager sticks rising a few feet from the ground.

How could this process be anything but cruel?  Doesn’t the gardener know what these grand ladies have already endured, stripped and laid bare before the world in humiliation?  Why chop down such meager remains when surely the leaves will return and all will be well once again?

Yet those who spare their Crepe Myrtles this mortification will find them spindly and weak throughout the coming year.  Poms will return but thinner, less bountiful.  It turns out the severe pruning promotes, and in fact ensures, new growth.  And not only new growth but stronger branches, more abundant leaves, denser poms.

Within just a few weeks of this pruning holocaust these genteel lovelies sprout forth multiple branches and leafy decor almost overnight.

Often I think of myself as the Crepe Myrtle and our Father as the Master Gardener.  How I detest his pruning, the agony of the cutting, the sorrow of the loss of the branches he cuts away.  How often has he called me to give someone up, to lose something I cherished, and I begged him not to love me enough to do the work?

At the time, it’s quite impossible to believe his surgery could ever be a good thing.  Yet later, after the tears have fallen and I’ve laid down the fight, I look back to see he didn’t take anything I didn’t need to lose.

I learned something I needed to find out.  I‘m enriched with more understanding, compassion, wisdom than I had before the pruning began.   I, like the Crepe Myrtle, am stronger and more beautiful for his blade, cutting away dead wood I didn’t even know needed to be removed.

What’s your dead wood; what’s the part you’re hanging  onto?  Are you allowing God to prune off the dead wood of your life or holding on to what you‘ve got, willing to settle for the spindly life you have because it’s what you’re used to, when he’s offering new growth and promise of a more vibrant life? Let something go today, something or someone you’ve be clinging to, and dare to believe God loves you enough to do something different, for which you’ll be richer in a sense you hadn’t even seen before.

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, Gardening, God in the everyday, Landscaping, Nature, Relationships | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

O’Brien World Team Slalom

Growing up on a crystal Florida lake aptly named Clear Lake, it was standard procedure to ski the entire weekend away.  On a typical Summer Saturday my dad would grab the tank out of the boat, run in town to Smoky’s Gulf and, with gas at 18 cents a gallon, fill up for a day of family fun for about a buck.  

Back then we had an old Evinrude C-clamped on the back of a wooden boat, a Y yoke straddling that with a float attached to a ski line of about 40 ft.  Our skis were wooden combos about 8 inches wide each and I learned how to drop a ski by the time I was 9 due to the fact that I lived constantly in competition with my three older and much prettier sisters. 

There was an old osprey nest on the far side of the lake where the osprey would return to raise their young year after year.  In the summer, when Daddy would swing the boat, and me on slalom, by the point on which that nest was built, that giant wonder would come flying out, screaming, soaring in a loop overhead.  I developed my own responding bird call to welcome him home and let him know it was me flying by down below.  I thought he came out every time just because he loved me, and I grew to love him too.

Once I married we got a tad land locked, but not for long.  I overrode my husband’s land-lover ways and bought a ski boat, then forced him to learn how to drive it just so I could slalom again.  The first thing I bought, besides a new vest and 70′ rope was an O’Brien World Team Slalom.  Oh, the wonders of gliding along the glass on that thing, free as a bird on the wing, cutting in and out along the shoreline, even inadvertently buzzing the occasional gator.  

As babies came along, skiing fell by the wayside and I  sold the boat and all its equipment, including my beloved slalom, a move I deeply regret.  I should have,  at the very least, kept it to mount on the wall. 

But once those babies were teens, it was time to introduce them to the pure heaven of water sports.  Once again, the O’Brien World Team was the slalom of choice for me, along with a ton of tube and wakeboard stuff for them.

I’ve owned and enjoyed that O’Brien World Team for 15 years, instantly enveloped in the feeling of being a kid again, gliding along on a golden lake.  But eventually, sadly, the bindings were getting floppy and I was starting to feel a little insecure out there.  It was time for a new slalom. 

Thinking I might graduate to another model I splurged and ordered some fancy black and gold thing from Overton’s.  It was awful!  It didn’t sing like my World Team.  It didn’t glide and cut like the old guy; the familiarity was gone and my confidence with it.  Suddenly I felt a little old and vulnerable…I never fell on the old World Team and perhaps my old bones wouldn’t take it now if I did on this new guy.  He might have been flashy but he just didn’t performance with the familiarity of my old friend. 

So I returned it for a new World Team blemish model.  The blemish is completely unnoticeable but saved me about $100.  My old buddy had a typical slide-in binding that had to be wet before you could wedge a foot inside.  But the X-9 binding this new guy came with is snug and secure, a lace-up style that adjusts to perfection, very nice. 

This O’Brien World Team is like an old friend.  It was as if he knew me, and I instinctively knew him.  Though he has new colors and graphics, there is no mistaking his style, his dependable quickness out of the hole, either from deep water or those crazy shore starts we started doing as kids.  

This fellow is great for cutting in and out along the shoreline, dodging the occasional gator, log or cattail, the precursor to today’s every-lake slalom course.  He’s  stable in any water, and that old feeling of osprey-on-the-wing freedom is there all over again. 

The adjustable arc fin is great for fine tuning the ride to fit my style, which hasn’t changed much in 40 years.  Somehow, when O’Brien and I get together, the old bones become new, and I’m 9 years old all over again.  Except it’s my 19-year-old son driving me around these days.  O’Brien has been with us through 3 generations now.  

The old model with the floppy bindings is securely in my garage, while we build a new house on a lake.  This time, I won’t let him get away.  He’s getting mounted on the wall, to overlook the new O’Brien and me having fun on the lake.  Some day, I’ll teach my grand children to love him like I do, just the way my dad taught me.

December 10, 2010 Posted by | Boating, Environment, Florida Outdoors, Parenting | , , , | Leave a comment

To Buy A Kayak

A water girl am I, there’s no doubt about it.  We have a 24-foot boat for family cruises down the wild, tea-colored St. John’s River, or snorkel jaunts in the tropical waters of the Florida Keys and manatee-filled springs of Crystal River.  

Our canoe is just the ticket for still, peaceful morning sunrise paddles on the lake.  And the jet ski rounds out the water vehicle line for our family’s summer slalom, tube and wakeboard escapades.

So, I’m not sure what propelled my desire for a kayak.  Somehow a kayak beckoned, filled a longing none of those other vessels seemed to. 

Florida has so many pristine streams and remote backwater creeks that just couldn’t be gotten to in another craft, with perhaps the exception of the canoe, which could often be unwieldy in high winds or on streams with strong currents, downed trees or tight turns. 

And now that our children were out of the house, a pair of kayaks would be a pleasurable way for my husband and me to create new memories, just the two of us, in places we hadn’t experienced with our kids.

After becoming a birding photographer for floridabirdwatching.com  owned by Jenny and Kenny Boyd, I’d become ever more drawn to the world of kayaking.  Not merely passionate birders and nature enthusiasts, the Boyd’s own Central Florida Nature Adventures, the premier guided kayak touring company of Central Florida. 

For  years I listened raptly as they shared their wonder over the unique, unspoiled locations to which they’d introduce awed clients from virtually every country on the globe.  I’d even joined them to kayak the pristine streams, for which Florida has always been famous, the “real Florida” that still exists, in large part, due to an aggressive state land acquisition program that preserves these matchless and distinctive wilderness jewels for all, who muster courage, to experience.

In childhood, my family canoed several of the Florida State Parks, but we had been motorboat enthusiast and I remained so, passing the love of that pleasurable pastime on to our children. Yet listening to the Boyd adventures reminded me of the wilderness treasures I’d experienced in youth, and I longed to again enjoy these marvels of our naturally beautiful State.

 Canoes use to be the popular boat for backwater exploits, but with kayaks now light enough to carry up townhome stairs and store on patios, the sport had exploded for the landlocked. 

 On Florida weekends, nearly every vehicle in town had a kayak strapped to it and the sport had taken on a bit of snob appeal as it grew in popularity, array of construction materials, and available gadgetry. 

 Wandering the kayak section of several sporting good stores for about two years, I learned a smattering of what to look for, but the salespeople knew little more than I did and it seemed easy to make a pricy mistake. 

 Prices ran the gamut. What made for quality and what just made for hype and snob appeal?  What did “roto-molded” mean, and what was the best material for a kayak? 

 Paddles were a world unto themselves! The task of figuring out myriad details of boat, seat and paddle options intimidated me into feeling out of my league, so I just kept leaving the stores befuddled and frustrated.

 One fine day I hit my limit for merely listening to Tales of Exploration from Central Florida Nature Adventures’ fervent participants.  It was time to launch into the unknown, to get beyond feeling intimidated by ignorance and the dread of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing, which I didn’t.

 It started with a simple e-mail to Jenny Boyd of Central Florida Nature Adventures, jenniferkayaks@yahoo.com  and from there my own kayak adventure took off.  Without talking down to an obvious neophyte, Jenny began educating me, regarding what to look for and why it was important.  

At the outset, it seemed logical that a shorter kayak would be less pricy and easier to handle, load and unload. But Jenny helped me widen my knowledge. 

“A shorter kayak may or may not be less expensive.  And it’s not necessarily easier to load in or on a vehicle.  Weight is a real factor, but shorter may not necessarily be lighter.  Price and weight both depend on the manufacture, what it’s made of, and what amenities are included, the weight of the seat, etc.” 

One might assume a shorter kayak would be easier to maneuver through the water, but not necessarily!  “The shorter the kayak the more it will move from side to side as you paddle.  This actually requires more effort to move through the water.  The longer the kayak the truer it will track, the straighter it will move through the water, and the less effort it takes to paddle,” Jenny informed me. 

 As a professional kayak guide, Jenny paddles a lightweight 9’ Dagger and loves it.  Though it takes more effort to paddle the straight runs, she’s better able to maneuver quickly to serve a client’s needs or move rapidly from one position to the other while shepherding a tour along swift streams and tight spring runs. 

 For a first kayak, I really didn’t want to invest a lot of money, in case my needs changed as I learned, or I didn’t enjoy it or use it as often as I thought I would.  But Jenny warned, “Be careful with the cheaper brands.  While you might save a few dollars on your initial costs, those kayaks will often delaminate.  They can’t take the intensity of the Florida sun or the rough treatment kayaks often endure through loading and unloading from whatever method of transportation you use.  The snaps, straps and cushioning of seats are cheaper and don’t last as long.  Those are important elements to consider when purchasing a kayak.” 

I hadn’t considered any of those aspects, and now realized how valuable her professional help was in avoiding decisions based on ignorance that I would surely regret.

 Jenny suggested I purchase a roto-molded polyethylene kayak, which would be easy to load onto an SUV due to its lightweight, and be relatively inexpensive compared to Kevlar or fiberglass kayaks which, while light, are stiffer, scratch more easily and are much pricier. 

 She also suggested a 12’ length, that would track straight and true for undemanding paddling along streams, but be nimble enough to make turns and curves without a lot of back paddling. 

 Then there was the choice of a sit-on kayak, definitely the easiest to enter and exit, or a sit-in kayak, which was the choice for a dryer ride. 

 For kayak builders, she suggested I consider Perception, Emotion, RTM, Dagger, Wilderness Systems and Old Towne as brands known to be durable and well-built.  And she suggested I head to Mosquito Creek Outdoor www.mosquitocreek.com or a similar company that specialized in kayaks, and had a pool where one could actually paddle a kayak before making the investment. 

 “That’s the main thing, to paddle the kayak before you buy. These guys paddle for the enjoyment of it all the time.  They are in the kayak business and that’s what they do well, for business and for recreation.  Their passion and experience allows them to help you make wise choices for your particular usage, since they paddle the same areas and know what you’ll be dealing with.”

With that tutorial under my belt, I headed to Mosquito Creek Outdoor in Apopka, Florida.  While they have a wonderful store in the front, filled with everything the outdoor enthusiast could dream of, the real action was in another building to the back. 

Upon entering the place, I was astounded to see every size, style and color of kayak imaginable, yet the staff was friendly and especially patient, putting me at ease to ask questions without feeling ignorant or intimidated.  Right in the middle of the huge showroom was a pool for paddling one’s selection around, to get a feel for how it moved, and how one moved with it.  Gary then proceeded to spend nearly an hour helping me make informed choices, based on his personal experience as a paddler and vast knowledge of the sport as a professional. 

Gary showed me the differences between models, helped me compare the things we needed, and didn’t, and helped me whittle down choices based on the type of water on which we’d spend the most time.  He even educated me on the value of color.  “If you plan to spend time in waters shared by motorized boats, you want a lively color that allows you to be seen easily.  If you’re photographing wildlife, colors that imitate nature will help you blend into the environment more effectively.”  Even a kayak’s color was about so much more than mere good looks.

Paddle options could baffle the mind, but Gary gave me a lesson on the reason for differences in construction materials, and the value of light weight paddles versus rugged ones that could stand up to abusive conditions.  It was important to balance those factors based on the usage they would endure.

Most state parks and kayak guide companies use aluminum shaft, nylon bladed, one-piece paddles for ease of use and durability.  They’re also less expensive to purchase, but tend to be heavier.  For the day-tripper, that’s sufficient. 

But for the individual who kayaks often or for longer distances, fiberglass shafts or carbon blades can’t be beat for lightness of weight and construction.  And weight is a factor you’ll appreciate more with every paddle stroke.  Just a few extra ounces adds up on long distances and can really tire you out, detracting from your enjoyment of the sport. 

Fiberglass shafts are usually married to carbon blades, which tend to chip more easily than nylon does.  It can’t take the punishment of carelessness or withstand a beating like a nylon blade can. Paddling in rocky-bottomed areas or places where you might push off rocks along the edge will shorten the life of a fiberglass and carbon paddle very quickly. 

Two-piece paddles are more expensive but make great sense for flexibility of use and ease of storage.  The shafts can be extended to different lengths to accommodate your personal taste and are marked to allow for paddles to be “feathered”, that is, set at different angles.  Storing two shorter lengths inside a kayak is easier than having one long paddle protruding out to trip upon or drop overboard.

 Never underestimate how quickly you can get into an emergency situation on the water.  While kayaks are stable, it’s not hard to flip one in a tight turn or swift moving current, and life vests are essential safety equipment to wear or at the least carry on board.  And most state and national parks require them to be included in your safety gear before paddling their waterways.

Kayak vests are different from typical ski vests or life preservers in that they are cut to allow for ease of continual arm movement and therefore chafe less than other types of vests.   Shrewd kayakers include a small first aid kit, a towel or sponge for bailing, a whistle for location, an extra break-apart paddle and a poncho as important safety gear to prevent a day’s kayak adventure from turning into a nightmare experience.

By the time I left Mosquito Creek Outdoor, I’d purchased two 12’ Perception Prodigy sit-in kayaks, Adventure Technology Glass Shaft Ergo T4 carbon bent shaft paddles to go with them, and a few essential accessories to keep our gear dry and bodies safe. 

 Two days later, we were gliding along Rock Springs Run, heading against current with near ease due to the perfectly suited 12’ Perception kayaks and lightweight AT paddles.  Yet we didn’t even realize we were getting a near full-body workout in the swifter turns and twists of the run. I could go off alone to photograph silently the elusive bird life that inhabit those serene waters and in moments rejoin my husband to continue our adventure exploring the crystal stream’s spectacular vegetation and wildlife.

For me, kayaking was no longer an intimidating snob sport but a new avenue through which to connect with my husband and experience the tranquil marvels of nature, plus get a respectable work-out in the bargain.  After all these years, life in Florida is still pretty great…

© Amy K. Munizzi

November 29, 2010 Posted by | Boating, Environment, Florida Outdoors, Kayaking, Nature, Parenting | , , , , , | Leave a comment

St. Augustine Must Die

I’m done, finished, it’s finally and completely over between us this time.  How many years  have I foolishly wasted on him, 25, 28?  Too many to count, too painful to remember what our relationship has already cost me, on so many levels.  When I think of how I once pandered to him I want to scream in rage, I know I am more than a fool for believing all the lies. 

Vanity drove me to listen to everyone around me, instead of following my conscience, instead of doing what I knew inside my own soul was right. 

When we met I was so young.  Bahia was everyone’s lawn of choice, the friend and companion of every cow pasture, upland, lowland and mansion.  But then I married, we moved into the burb, and sultry, seductive St. Augustine moved in next door. 

In the beginning I marveled at my neighbor’s lawn from afar.  Most every morning I caught myself staring at the lush green beauty that blanketed his lawn.  At dusk, when my neighbor went in for dinner, I often found myself stepping over the line, from my yard to his, bare feet striding over and sinking into the joy that was his carpet of wonder.  

To say that my Bahia paled in comparison would be a visual as well as physical accuracy.  But St. Augustine was way out of my league, too expensive for a young newlywed girl to possess.  And so I waited.  And yes, coveted.  

When my time came, when I was in control and had the power, it was St. Augustine I longed for.  Plugs were all I could afford in our first rendezvous. But by the time our next house was on the horizon my husband was drawn in, and together we fell head over naked feet in love and in bondage to St. Augustine together. 

At first, the threesome worked well.  St. Augustine was rich and beautiful and we looked all the more elegant in the reflected glow of his lush expanse.  My husband slaved to fund our addiction and I worked the skin off my fingers trying to keep the weeds out and keep St. Augustine in the pristine condition to which he and we had grown accustomed. 

But you know how relationships change.  Soon he was no longer happy with just the simple sunshine and water we gave.  He suggested we would all be so much happier if he were fertilized more often.  But that wasn’t enough, next he felt a bit ill and said it was Chinch Bug Killer he required.  Then it was mole crickets he complained of.  On and on it went, our retched inadequacy, his constant insatiable desire for more, more, always more.

In the rainy season he began to brown and though I fertilized and bug killed with abandon, he now said the issue separating us was fungus;  if only I would treat his fungus, we could all be happy again. 

Soon he was bleeding us dry with his constant wilting or withering, complaining it was too sunny, too hot, too dry, too wet.  Nothing we ever did was enough to keep him happy.  He was weak, lazy, not even capable of fighting off the smallest insect or the most pathetic weed.  Before we knew it, my husband and I were deeply in debt, owing hundreds of dollars on our Home Depot credit card as I spent larger and larger sums just trying to keep St. Augustine in balance, happy, content so he wouldn’t make us the laughing-stock of the neighborhood.

Our pathetic dance came to a crashing end when the hurricanes of 2004 dealt one drenching blow after another, from which St. Augustine could not recover.  By then I was tired, oh so weary of the never-ending battle, never being able to please him.  I could no longer stand the constant feelings of inadequacy, and my husband was no longer willing to continually fund our little tryst. 

St. Augustine began to falter, and we could not muster the energy to save him, nor to care.  In retaliation he browned from the chinch bugs.  He spotted from the fungus.  He shriveled in the damp and he wilted in the heat.  But we were over it.  Our eyes were finally opened, the spell had broken.

When I think of all the years we damaged the environment with the run off from fertilizer, bug killer and weed killer, just so we could entertain a lush expanse, I feel sick and ashamed.  All the perfectly drinkable water we wasted just to feed St. Augustine’s insatiable thirst, while the whole state went to water restrictions just so our lawns could be pretty.  What an idiot I was, all the money I wasted, all for vanity. 

I want others to know what I know now, to understand, to awaken, to break the power this insatiable gigolo  has on them.  I want to take my John Deere 790 diesel tractor’s loader bucket and scrape every blade from every lawn as far as my eyes can see.  And I’ll have my revenge, for hell hath no fury like a woman gardener scorned.  Once again, we’re building a house.  Already, my old friend Bahia has forgiven me, has offered his hand, his steady, dependable blade to stave off erosion and make my world green again.  Yes, in drought, he will go dormant, but only to flourish again when the rains return.  In heat, he will draw in on himself, only to unfold in green glory when the rain falls anew. 

He hasn’t the glamour or lux, with which  St. Augustine once drew me to himself.  But Bahia will always be there, come rain or shine, heat or cold, hurricane or drought.  He will love and live with the environment in harmony, never requesting extra water or fertilizer or bug killer or weed killer, but happy to be, just be. 

And so, St. Augustine must die.  Here in my current house, I am scraping off what is left of my pathetic lover, and sodding him over with my sturdy hero, Bahia.  I can hold my head up high, knowing I’m doing my little part to conserve precious water supplies, keep erosion at bay, and help return Florida waters to their once pristine condition, the way they were, before we all lost our heads to that pretty-boy who cost us so dearly. 

I won’t miss his water wasting ways, his insatiable hunger for pesticides and fertilizers.  But I sure will enjoy my cleaner lake water and my extra hundreds…and a zero balance on my Home Depot Credit Card.

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, Gardening, Landscaping, Nature | , , , , | 2 Comments

Is A Rose A Rose?

Who has beheld a rose, with any thought, that didn’t marvel at its grandeur, its perfect symmetry, its delicate beauty and heady aroma.  One such work of intricacy could only thrive on the finest of circumstances, one would assume.  And so, I assumed.

My first rose bush was a tea rose, chosen for its delicate fragrance and vibrant color.  Selecting a protected and shady location, I prepared the soil with extra care, enriching it with deep, dark,  nutrient rich earth, in an area that was always moist and only received the gentlest of filtered morning sunshine.

To my dismay, the bush quickly grew weak and spindly.  The more I watered and fertilized it, the more weak it became. The more I protected it, the more fragile it looked.

What I didn’t know is that roses thrive in adversity.  They prefer well draining, sandy soil with just a touch of organic enrichment.  They excel with infrequent, deep soakings from week to week. They thrive in six to eight hours of full, scorching sun.  And they do best with prudent fertilization  limited mostly to  spring and summer. 

And so it is with us.  How often do we cry out to God to protect us from this situation or that calamity, to take away our suffering and ease our woes so we may have a peaceful and happy existence.  Yet what does ease produce in us?  Rarely a thankful heart.  Seldom a strong character.  Never a person of compassion.

Adversity is where it’s at.  Adversity is where we come to the end of ourselves, we fall on our face, and we meet God there. How much more we cry out to God, how desperately we rely on him in suffering.  And how much we grow.  Like the rose.  We develop and bloom new strength, and new beauty,  in adversity.  And we find God to be who he says he is, when we wait on him to work circumstances out.

Dare to take the road of adversity, dare to look for God in the hard circumstance of life.   Ask him to show himself, and look for him in the pain.  He’s there, and he’s up to something good.  For your good.

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, God in the everyday, Nature | , , , , | 2 Comments

Hello

I’m a follower of Christ, wife, mom, writer, photographer, boater, skier, pygmy goat farmer.

As a writer, I harken back to the ones of old who locked themselves away in some remote cabin in the woods to write in privacy, isolation and most of all anonymity.  Fame and personal recognition would have appalled them, because they were all about the Word, the written word, and not the desire to be the center of attention, sometimes even writing under a pen name to ensure their privacy and solitude.

But then I realized that God has a lot to say to people and he might want to speak to them through me.

While I craved privacy, God instead called me to expose myself and what he has taught me as a human and as a mother through writing a book, just published, called “When They Go”.  It explores  how excruciatingly painful it was for me to let my children leave home, and what issues played into, what should have been a commonplace event, becoming the end of life as I knew it.

So here I am.  I believe in God.  I think he’s the Ultimate Scientist, the Ultimate Creator  and is pretty amazing in his sense of humor.  He’s always up to something good, no matter how odd it looks or how painful  it is.  And the more painful it is, the more potential we have for learning something we need to know to be a more effective human being.

While I’ll write with humor, with tongue in cheek, with all seriousness and sometimes with sarcasm, it’s always through the lens of what I believe about God and the world around me, and the order I see he’s given us, even in the chaos we create for ourselves and those around us.

So hello world.  I’m climbing on board the blog train.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, God in the everyday, On The Road, Parenting | , | 2 Comments