A Wee Thought After a Difficult Week – #Poetry (Sort of)

Ode to a Painted Bunting

A sign.
My heart called out for a sign.
Something to hang onto.
Something to give me hope.
Something to remind me the world can be beautiful,
And people can be kind, generous, and loving.

Just a sign.
Nothing momentous.
A simple reminder that Life can be good.
That’s all I asked.
All I needed.

And then …
A sudden glimpse of red,
An impossible flash of chartreuse,
A dollop of bluish purple …

Just there, outside my window.
I held my breath, staring in wonder.
How could such a creature even be real?
So tiny and quick, and yet …
So brilliantly magical!
Reminding me of all the beauty in the world.

A sign.
That’s what it was.
And I smiled, at peace again,
And ready to face the day.

Painted buntings have been at my backyard birdfeeder for over 2 weeks now, passing through on their northward migration. I have been in awe every day, as they never stay here this long. (Guess they got the weather report and decided to postpone heading farther north). Last week was a tough one, and I was feeling pretty discouraged, but when I got up today and saw there were still two males and two of the solid green females at my feeder, I realized what a gift I’d been given. A sign, indeed! Better days are ahead! For ALL of us! 💖💖💖


Have a Great Saturn’s Day!

indigo bunting bird perched amid greeneryIndigo Bunting
(Image found on Pixabay)

Hope everyone is set for a great weekend! I’m off to do a talk at one of my two favorite venues, the beautiful DeBary Hall. Today, I’m going to help folks learn to identify some of the less common backyard birds they might see visiting their feeders, including the gorgeous indigo bunting above. (And his even more gorgeous cousin, the painted bunting, surely a contender for the most beautiful songbird in the world.)

It’s so wonderful to have a safe place to get out once again to share some nature talks with folks in this area! I missed that more than anything else during the year I was pretty much in total isolation.  Between DeBary Hall and the wonderfully restored 1930s schoolhouse that is now Enterprise Museum, I have met some of the nicest people in the world. LOVE talking to them!

See you when I get back!

Photo of DeBary Hall Historic ManorDeBary Hall Historic Manor

Reminder: Central Florida’s Fabulous Wildlife Presentation – Overview

Just a reminder for those of you in the central Florida area. I will be giving a presentation tomorrow at the Enterprise Heritage Center and Museum (information below), along with wildlife photographer Doug Little. Doug’s work has been on display at the museum all month, and if you haven’t yet checked it out, you really should stop by for that alone, though I hope you’ll stay for the show. It’s an overview of my brand new wildlife series, and features even more of Doug’s work. I’d love to see YOUR smiling face in the audience, getting a sneak peek of the various topics I’ll be focusing on over the months ahead .

Doug and I will both be happy to answer your questions on Florida wildlife, and we will be available afterward to sign books (me) or calandars (Doug.) This program is free, though donations to the museum are always gratefully accepted. No reservations required, either. Join us for a fun afternoon, with lots of time for Q&A! 🙂

When: 1:00 PM, Saturday, April 28
Where: Enterprise Heritage Center and Museum, 360 Main St, Enterprise, FL 32725
Phone: (386) 259-5900

Tri-colored Heron (background) and Little Blue Heron (foreground).

Finally! #NotesFromTheRiver is Resuming!

This Guy Would Love to See You There!
(Note: This is an alligator, honest. No crocs up here.  😀 )

I’ve been unable to keep up with all my blogging due to everything that’s been going on since Irma came a-calling, but I am starting back up with one of my favorite things: my nature blog for St. Johns River Eco Tours. Today’s post on #NotesFromThe River is about an upcoming event a week from Saturday. (January 13) Hope you’ll check it out and share far and wide, and if any of you are in the central Florida area, hope you’ll consider coming to see Doug and I at DeBary Hall Historic Site for this fun program.  Thanks for helping spread the word.

#NotesFromTheRiver – Presentations, Photography, and Information, Oh, My!

#SwampGhosts Presentation at DeBary Hall 5/20/17

“Big Blue”
Opening Slide from My Swamp Ghosts Presentation

On May 20, 2017, I’ll be doing my favorite presentation at DeBary Hall Historic Site, and if you are in the area, I’d love to see you there. This talk features many beautiful photographs of the St. Johns River basin habitat, including birds and wildlife of the area. There is also a brief introduction to albino and leucistic alligators, and a section on the easiest way to ID the very few snakes in our area that you do not want to handle. The last section covers a bit on how I write, my inspiration board photos, and the challenges of starting a brand new career at a time when most are thinking about retirement.

I always include plenty of time for Questions & Answers during and after the presentation, and I can pretty much guarantee that there will be a whole lotta laughin’ going’ on! 🙂 This is a fun event, and if you can possibly come, please do! Meeting new readers is my favorite thing in the world, next to writing books for them. Here’s the pertinent information for those who’d like  to  attend:

Location: DeBary Hall Historic Site, 198 Sunrise Blvd, DeBary, FL 32713
(386) 668-3840
Time: 2:00 PM, Saturday, May 20, 2017
Cost: FREE, No Reservations Required


#StJohnsRiverEcoTour #MeetTheAuthor Friday, 5/27/16

0038-107-800-750-80-wm-right_bottom-20-DougLittle-255-255-255-20Come Say Hi to Me, and This Guy!
(Barred Owl)

I’m up for one last eco-tour this Friday, until after the weather cools down a bit. Want to join us on the beautiful St. Johns River, for some wildlife viewing, bird watching, local history, and a brief reading from yours truly?  I’ll be doing more in the fall, I’m sure, but this will be my last one for this summer, I think.

These tours are the best two hours you can spend in central Florida, you know . . . even without MOI! 😀 The river is always beautiful and lush, and the wildlife can be amazing. Even this time of year, when many animals are hiding in the shade, you always see something wonderful. Plenty of birds, for sure. If you live in the area, join us Friday for a great time.  Call for reservations ( 386-626-9004), as the boat is almost full. Bring your cameras!

Help Us Spot One of These!

#StJohnsRiverEcoTour Tomorrow!


Off on a Meet the Author Eco-Tour, with a group of local readers tomorrow, aboard the Naiad. This is one of the most fun things I’ve been lucky enough to take part in. Captain Jeanne Bell and hubby, wildlife photographer Doug Little have been so supportive of me and my books, and these tours are just the best!

We might see these:

Swallow-tailed Kite

Or these:

Barred Owl

And certainly, these:

Baby Gators

But if we see one of THESE:

Florida Black Bear

…you’ll hear me hollerin’ all the way to wherever you are! (Still haven’t seen one in the wild, after all my many years of birding, hiking, and canoeing in Florida.)

Have a great Saturn’s Day, everyone, and I’ll check in with you when I return to civilization again! 🙂


#MidWeekPOV – #wwwblogs Small Miracles

Wood Stork on the Wing

Some years ago (too many to count), I developed a little habit I call “looking for the miracle.” It started as a small superstition that if I saw something truly beautiful or uncommon at the start of a long car trip, it was a sign all was well in the world, and I’d get where I was going, unscathed. Yeah, I know it was silly, but it made me feel surprisingly good, and you know what else? I found that when I was actively watching for them, small miracles showed themselves to me nearly everywhere I looked.


Of course, with my long-established love of nature, I often looked for special birds or wildlife along the roadside, as an omen of good luck. I’d spot a bald eagle soaring overhead (always an inspirational sight), and say to myself, “There! That’s this trip’s miracle.”


Or I’d see the summer’s first swallowtail kite, my very favorite bird of prey, and feel so happy, I just knew it was good omen, and my trip would go smoothly.


Over the  years, I’ve spotted all sorts of interesting animals and birds along the highways and byways of my travels. A flock of wild turkey is always a good sign, to me . .  .


. . .  and my first Florida sighting of a half-grown black bear made me smile for the next twently or thirty miles.


Over time, I saw other things that I counted among my miracles. Rainbows are always good, and double rainbows mean my trip home will go well, too.


A solid purple field of wild phlox takes my breath away as it announces its miracle status in no uncertain terms.


A crested caracara sitting in a tree,


deer grazing in a field,


a baby donkey standing in the front yard of a farmhouse–all have given me a sense of the magical, the beautiful, the miraculous, at one time or another.

You may count other things as your good omens, but whatever speaks to you in that way, I promise if you make it a point to look for the miracles around you, you’ll find them. And whatever you’re doing at the time will suddenly seem happier, taking on new significance.

Miracles abound, if we but open our eyes. Try it. You just might be amazed.

#InspirationBoardSunday #SundayBlogShare

For many of us, nothing is quite so full of inspiration as an animal. (Witness the ten kajillion online photos and videos on YouTube). They touch us in our daily lives, teach us how to enjoy the world, and surprise us with their beauty, strength, and grace. Why not let more of them inspire us in our writing?

I enjoy including animals in all of my books. My characters have pets that immediately say something about who they are. From the enigmatic MacKenzie Cole’s sole companion, an Irish wolfhound named Rosheen . . .

8378f7160a81ac22ed0dfc458dfd5b62 Continue reading

#InspirationBoardSunday #SundayBlogShare #Florida

To make up for being gone so long, I’m taking you on a short photo tour today. Enjoy!!

Inspiration can come from anywhere or anyone.
I’m inspired by lush habitat and scenery. 

Wekiwa_IMG_6363-EditWekiva River – Dark and Mysterious

I’m equally inspired by wildlife and birds.

800px-Prothonotary_Warbler_Prothonotary Warbler

IMG_3001Little Blue Heron and White Ibis

0003-72-800-750-80-wm-right_bottom-20-DougLittle-255-255-255-20Purple Gallinule

Baby alligators, last year’s and newer hatchlings.

0013-82-800-750-80-wm-right_bottom-20-DougLittle-255-255-255-20Not such a baby, this time.

Sometimes I’m inspired by things I’ll probably never see in the wild.

Albino alligator. Wanna dance?

new-orleans-22-e1345389323223Blue-eyed Leucistic Alligator (My inspiration for Big Blue, in Swamp Ghosts)

Inspiration! It’s all around us!
All we have to do is open our eyes and unstop our ears.

"Kelly Park, Apopka, Florida"