South Florida – Our Habitat Away from Home

FLA 010Over the last several years, I have been working to turn my challenges into opportunities; My “have-to’s” into “get-to’s.” The practice of yoga and meditation helped prepare me to receive this message and multiple spiritual and inspirational influences have helped support me along the path of change.

When my husband recently took a new job in a new industry, our family moved out of our comfort zone and into a period of transition. This change was long in coming and at one point he was balancing multiple job opportunities. Each one with their own perceived benefits and drawbacks. The decision between them was difficult. Along the way, we had been prayerful and faithful that however it worked out, God would lead us in the right direction even if we thought the decision should go another way.

garden inspiration, nature, And that is what happened, we wanted the opportunity that kept him close to home doing what we knew he loved, but the opportunity that worked out was in a field that was new to him yet had tremendous potential. It would also require a increase in travel. We stayed in faith that this must be the right path, but admittedly there were occasional moments of stress along that way. As you know, even if the changes we undergo are for the better, they are still accompanied by some level of stress. In these moments, I find peace of mind and inspiration in the natural environment around me.

Our Habitat Away from Home

The new job required eight weeks of training in south Florida. This presented the kids and I with a unexpected opportunity to fly down and spend a few weeks with my husband. Since our family had not planned a vacation, we saw this as a chance to relax, enjoy the sites and visit relatives that we would otherwise not get to see this year.FLA 038

We had moved to Maryland from Ft. Lauderdale in 1998, so this trip also allowed us to show our kids our old stomping grounds.

Once we arrived in Florida we started to get settled into our new environment. The hotel had a lovely and well-landscaped courtyard that became our new yet temporary backyard habitat. If you haven’t been there or seen photos, lush tropical landscapes are a trademark of the south Floridian climate. There is always something blooming, no matter the season.

FLA 030.JPGWhile my husband was at work, the kids would play in the pool and on the basketball court. I would relax nearby and read a great book I had picked up at the airport. We were all having fun but I found myself distracted. Tell-tale shadows of delicate butterflies would periodically float over the pages of my book. The fritillaries would alight on the sumptuous flowers that covered the bushes and trees surrounding us. I did my best not to let their beauty take away my focus from my reading.

FLA 007Just as I got back into my story, I would see something crawling across the sidewalk out of the corner of my eye. Lizards of all shapes and sizes would alternatively pop in and out of the nearby verdure. They would tease us, just staying long enough for us to think we could get a good look, then suddenly vanishing into seemingly thin air. They blended perfectly with the stems of the bushes and trunks of the trees.

IMG_0703 (2)I couldn’t resist any longer. I had to trade my book for a camera and start investigating. Even the kids enjoy getting into the act. They called me over when they found this tiny frog swimming for it’s life in the deep end of the pool. They scooped him out gently. We watched him as he got his land legs back. Now he can live another day and find a non-chlorinated home.

While I explored the area, I found many lovely and interesting moments happening in and around the hotel landscape, including these shells in the mulch along the sidewalk. FLA 011520b7e65dbbb7.JPGI saw these empty shells in several places and have to assume that somewhere under the bushes are other living snails watching me from their well-camouflaged hiding places.

Most of my discoveries were fun and exciting. However, I was not so happily surprised when I found this huge spider hanging in his web right along a busy sidewalk. Legs and all, he was as big as the entire palm of my hand. It took a few days FLA - Dad 020for me to get the courage to get close enough to photograph it. We just don’t commonly see spiders this big where we live. And to make it even more unsettling, my husband and I would get up around 5:30 each morning and take a walk around the neighborhood before he went to work. It is not that unusual to walk through a spider web or two on an early morning walk. But, when I saw this guy a few days later, those webs took on a whole new meaning. Thank goodness for my chivalrous husband who also happens to be 6′ 4″ tall, who would take the lead on our walks and risk going through the webs first. Another reason I love that man.

As the days went on, the kids and I began to venture out and explore other parts of Florida. Now that we are home and the photos are downloaded and organized, I realize that I have underestimated the amount of material that I brought back north. As always, I was inspired by the numerous opportunities to appreciate the natural world around us on our travels. This is only the first chapter of our fun Florida story. Please sign up for emails updates on our front page (right) or “like” us on Facebook so I can let you know when the next chapters are ready.

Here are some great moments in and around the hotel for you to enjoy:

 

To be continued…

 

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