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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label wildlife. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label wildlife. Show all posts

      Saturday, March 19, 2011

      NYC IT AIN'T

      With daughter Jen, on our way to see the alligators,the birds,the rivers of saw-grass in the Shark River Slough,the Bromelia, all in Everglades National Park. But a person's got to eat, and we understood from the Park website that there is no food offered in the park. Not true but what's a park without a picnic?We ate at the Market Restaurant at the wholesale food market, but the real find in Homestead FL, between our historic hotel and the Park entrance is the Robert is Here fruit stand.
      So we buy an avocado, a ripe mango, little tomatoes, a grapefruit, a huge bag of shelled pecans, and more. The lovely woman at the checkout, asked when we were planning to eat the fruit and then exchanged our avocado for a perfectly ripe one. She also asked if she could cut the mango for us; I learned from the master how best to do that.
      How can one not come back each day to a market that's growing it's own sunflowers and cabbages adjoining the stand? And where they have the "southernmost purple martin houses in the USA".
      Robert's story is unforgettable. When he was six his father helped him set out a table by the road to sell extra cukes from the garden. Not one sold. Father guessed that perhaps Robert was too easy to miss from a speeding car, so he painted signs with large red letters annoucing "Robert is Here". He posted them before and aft. Robert sold out. Robert maintained the stand after school and weekends using an honor pay system during the times he was required to be in school. By age 9 he could afford to hire someone to run the stand during school hours and by age 14 bought his first land and planted an avocado grove. For the complete story visit Robertishere.com, and they ship everywhere.

      Wednesday, June 23, 2010


      (double click on any image to enlarge)
      If you answered Queens NYC, you would be correct. Right off the Belt Parkway, four miles from JFK Airport, enter the other world of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. We walked an easy 2 mile trail, stayed on the gravel path as was demanded, managed to see Osprey chicks on their nesting platform, and a turtle energetically covering a clutch of eggs she had deposited in the middle of a dirt road. The orange flag warned Park staff not to drive vehicles over the area. Native species of reptiles and amphibians have been introduced and there is an active terrapin nesting area set aside.Because there are not a
      lot of trees on site there
      is an nesting box pro-
      gram. I saw boxes for
      bats,Tree Swallows,
      House Wrens, Kestrals,
      and this big one for
      Barn Owls. I was imagin-
      ing an owl peeking out
      but of course, no such

      The site is a paradise for
      local birders (325
      species have been
      recorded); shore birds
      like egrets, ibis, and
      herons as well as song
      birds find shelter here.

      I was mostly having fun
      with the wild flowers.
      Although I expected Rosa rugosa, seen in both flower and fruit stages in late June, butterfly weed, honeysuckle, milkweed,this is a managed park. Yuccas spike the landscape; many are newly planted. Buddlia and coreopsis attract butterflies. Another unexpected plant was the prickly Pear Cactus. I don't normally think of it as a New York City wildflower. I learned it grows wild from MA to FL and north to MN, but I never imagined cactus juxtaposed with JFK.
      To learn more, get directions, and a schedule of guided walks and nature programs visit: the National Parks site. Take your Deep Woods Off when you visit.

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