Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sanibel Seashells: The Recipe for a Gorgeous Christmas Tree

If you like unusual and artsy stuff, you can really have a field day with Sanibel seashells.

Seashells are so beautiful in and of themselves, and their lovely configurations are ideal for creating unique
Christmas tree ornaments.

According to one seashell crafts person, Patricia from Massachusetts, the ease of creating seashell X-Mas tree decorations makes for a great project for the whole family.

First, the recipe, what you need to get started.

Ingredients Needed:

Sea shells
Gold Gilt or silver and gold paint
Tiny rosebuds (silk or real)
Glue gun
Clear nail polish
Gold or silver very thin ribbon or cord

Next, the process, what you need to do to "cook" your trinket:

1. Gilt or paint your shells and let dry. (you can also leave the shells plain and cover with clear nail polish if you prefer).

2. Glue a rosebud or pearl in the well of the shell or decorate it how you want.

3. Glue a loop of the thin ribbon or cord on the top to hang it with . Cover base of ribbon hang with with rosebud , pearl , or a bow.

A simple recipe, an easy meal!

All it takes is to get yourself down to Sanibel, and this Christmas it also should be easier than ever.

Lovely condos are available that normally are booked at this time of year. Airlines are offering good deals, car rentals are below normal in rates. And seashells? Well the shells are already there waiting for you and free for the taking!

Monday, November 24, 2008

X-Mas Holiday on Sanibel is a GREAT Buy

OK, let's assume that you don't find the Luminaria sufficient reason to go to Sanibel Island for Christmas.

That the sunshine and palm trees alone don't entice you.

That long walks in balmy weather to help you digest your Christmas dinner won't motivate you.

Or even that Sanibel beats staying home in the cold and snow. Or dealing with your in-laws who are wonderful and well meaning, BUT....

Then consider this.

Sanibel is a wonderful place to shop year round, and by Christmas you may have some bargains to be found. So you don't have to do any shopping home out in the cold and snow and can take some great treasures back with you for friends and family.

Just off Sanibel you will find a wonderland to entertain and delight. From December 12 to 31, you can celebrate the holidays at the Edison Ford Winter Estates with the Holiday Nights 2008. For the past 33 years, the historic buildings and gardens have been decorated with lights and traditional decorations. With a different theme every year, 2008 will celebrate "antique toys of the Edison era". The homes and porches will be adorned with dollhouses, trucks, and antique toys as well as seasonal decorations that fill 20 acres of gardens, and the recently restored Edison buildings. There will be new exhibits and displays, as well as traditional favorites and nightly musical performances, shopping and the Children's Tree Trail.

And consider that due to the poor economy, you will more than likely find outstanding accommodations on discount.

Airfares are also most reasonable with United touting incredibly low one way fares and other airlines advertising fares from many US cities beginning at $250 round trip.

So, what's stopping you now?

Begin making your holiday to remember with Christmas on Sanibel!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas on Sanibel

Despite the allure of the legendary White Christmas, Sanibel offers a wonderfully green and peaceful "fifth season" for those who choose to spend their holiday on the island.

We call it the fifth season as it is like no other. The month of December is full of gifts and surprises from those living and working on Sanibel Island. Kicked off with a Luminaria Festival in early December where beautiful luminaria line Periwinkle and the surrounding streets, the Festival bills itself as a gift to the community.

During the Festival, residents and visitors are able to travel through more than three miles of lighted luminaries to visit stores, shops and restaurants all beautifully decorated in their best holiday finery. The "attendees" of the Festival are also able to enjoy refreshments and live music. The festivities start at dusk and end approximately 9:30pm.

Stay tuned to this blog for more information on the fifth and best season on Sanibel.

If you have not yet planned for your Christmas week on Sanibel Island, you will find several convincing reasons for doing so posted here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Best "Value" on Sanibel is Knowing Eric

We know quite a few people on Sanibel now.

And to a person, they are kind, interesting and helpful.

We also know a number of people with whom we do business on the island.

And to a person, they are honest, hardworking, and creative.

So we feel particularly fortunate in knowing Eric Pfeifer as he---remarkably--- has all of these traits!

Eric is the broker in his own Real Estate firm on Sanibel, Pfeifer Realty Group, and has many years of experience behind him having been an agent for other Real Estate agencies on the Island.

We have known Eric to be a good realtor, a good guy and a good neighbor.

He has helped friends with his unique industriousness and sense of integrity when they were looking for properties to buy, or when they were looking to sell properties.

He has helped us, gaining early access onto Sanibel after Hurricane Charlie and inspecting our properties for damage. He did this without our even asking him to do so.

And he has helped various organizations on Sanibel by donating to his own or his clients' favorite Sanibel causes each time he does a closing on a property he's sold. Most recently, he contributed $2000 from a closing to the Sanibel Sea School, an organization whose mission statement and purpose he feels strongly about.

If the word value can be used in describing a relationship, it certainly applies to Eric. We respect and value Eric and admire his sense of generosity. We trust him.

So on our last trip to the Island, we were relieved to talk with him and hear his take on the Island's Real Estate market. Eric is always bullish on Sanibel. Having been educated as an engineer, he changed professions in order to live on Sanibel. He finds great value in island life and is able to carry his enthusiasm for the Island into his profession as a realtor.

What makes the island so special is the key, as Eric sees it, to the real estate market on Sanibel recovering sooner and better than anywhere else in Florida. Sanibel's land development code protects it from ever getting overdeveloped to the degree of other locales. Hence, the syndrome of too many new housing starts or condo constuction can't happen on the island as it does throughout the state, depreciating already existing properties.

While real estate on the Island is not as depressed as in other Florida towns, the time may be soon approaching, according to Eric, when the prices begin rising, particularly for private homes.

This may well be the most opportune time to visit the Island and take a look around. There is no doubt there are deals to be made and great values to be found.

And there is no doubt in our minds that if one is serious about exploring the value of investing in Sanibel Island, that Eric is the man to deal with.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

With Stores Closing Across the Country, Could Sanibel's Chicos Be Next?

A baby boomer (barely) with an eclectic eye on design, I was a prime marketing target for Chico's. When I experienced my first Chico's on Sanibel Island, however, I thought it was an island shop, and not a national chain.

Since then, I have shopped in Chico's around the country, but nothing approached the fun of that first Sanibel Chico's excursion, nor did the merchandise appeal as much.

So I can't say that I love Chico's as strongly as I can say I love the Chico's on Sanibel.

And I guess I am not alone as the tiny island has been able to support not just one but two shops, though I must confess to only shopping in the original Chico's on Palm Ridge. There, the store manager entices me with tales of the founding of Chico's and resolved my confusion with the name.

Since chico in Spanish means boy, I was initially surprised that the store is solely women's apparel. But the manager showed me who the real Chico was, and that not only dismissed my confusion but added to the charm of shopping in the original store.

In the current economy, despite the great merchandising of Chico's, I am concerned that an island the size of Sanibel could continue to sustain two shops with the same name and both selling only women's clothing.

It certainly has been national news that other enterprises from Starbucks to CompUSA have closed some of their stores. And there have been hints such as those posted on Floridatrend.com that Chico's net profits have been falling.

Which leaves me feeling bad that an annual tradition I began with the first shopping spree was abandoned on this recent stay on Sanibel. Though each visit to the Island has til now been combined with a visit to the store, our own personal financial concerns deterred me from going shopping in the usual manner.

I hope to make up for this lapse on our next vacation. And, if you want to discover who the real Chico is, I encourage you to go to the store and ask to see Chico's picture.

Oh, and while you're there, pick up an item or two so that we can assure that Sanibel's Chico's does not join the growing roster of store closings!

How To Eat Cheaply on Sanibel: A Twilight Special

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned Jerry's supermarket as one of several nice places to go for breakfast on the island. And it is.

But on our vacation on Sanibel this month, we discovered that there is more to Jerry's than a tasty omelet.

One day we went for lunch and were delighted with our choices as well as the fact that we could now take our lunch outside. There are several tables with umbrellas in the little courtyard surrounded by some beautiful caged tropical birds.

Although I would prefer to see the birds free and in their native environment, I must admit to being enchanted with their company.

Also enchanting, and something not too common on this delightful Caribbean like Island is the fact that one can eat dinner at Jerry's for a most reasonable price. There is a twilight special with a variety of tasty offerings priced for the most frugal among us.

For us, our meals at our vacation rental home always hit the mark.

But when we do venture out for dinner, our favorites such as the Mad Hatter and the Thistle Lodge, are as pricey as any restaurant we frequent in New York City. So our dinners there are reserved for special occasions.

But at Jerry's, eating by twilight can be as frequent as you wish. And you will neither go hungry nor broke!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Where's Mine?" Should Echo Hope on Sanibel for an Even Better Refuge

The Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is one of over 500 United States Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S Department of Interior refuges managed within the country.

Regular wildlife surveys are conducted to monitor populations of migratory birds and their production, and to establish trends for a number of species, primarily birds. The refuge monitors colonial nesting and roosting bird numbers, shorebird populations, mottled duck, pelican and osprey production, and alligator and red-shouldered hawk abundance. A weekly Wildlife Drive survey is conducted on Fridays to monitor the abundance and diversity of bird populations using refuge wetlands. Water levels are monitored continuously.

The preservation of Ding Darling and its fauna and flora are hopefully going to be part of the national agenda on the environment in President Elect Obama's administration. And there is also a hope that the new administration can develop an environmental platform that helps to create preservation and conservation of lands and wild life outside the refuge habitat.

President Elect Obama built his campaign on hope, and many people, including myself, were certainly buoyed by this "audacious" concept.

Hope for a more united, more communicative, and more equitable America were among the ideals stated or implied.

But drilling down to finer points and the eternal question of "where's mine" --always asked of a new administration-- has particular power when it comes to the environment.

Most, if not all, of the environmental organizations across America supported the Obama campaign even though Obama's record was sketchy with his frequent absences on votes pertaining to critical environmental issues.

But because the Republican party had been so tarnished by the Bush administration's poor record on the environment,there was one remarkably strong need stated during the presidential campaign. It was that Obama should be sensitive to and responsive to the need for strong, protective environmental laws.

Our most important environmental safeguards like the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act have been underfunded and undermined for quite some time. These and other key environmental pieces of legislation are in the forefront of the "where's mine" question. The question is asked on behalf of the nation's creatures and their habitat, including those on Sanibel.

The Defenders of Wildlife organization have circulated a 7 point plan asking that their members sign it and send it on to the President Elect. The plan hinges on getting our new President to commit to these fundamental environmental issues:

1. Promise to end the political manipulation of science
2. Promise to responsibly manage America's federal lands
3. Promise to safeguard America's rarest plants and wildlife
4. Promise to make America a leader in addressing global warming and its impacts
5. Promise to restore America's role as a global leader in wildlife conservation
6. Promise to restore our connection to nature through education and proper stewardship of our shared federal lands
7. Promise to encourage private landowners, states and tribes to conserve wildlife and habitat

It's my most fervent wish that the environment, along with the humane treatment of animals, become the best and brightest bragging points for this new President.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

American Beauty on Sanibel and Captiva

Arriving home, I am thankful for the beauty of where we live year round and even more appreciative of our Sanibel retreat.

Although I have traveled to many continents and found beauty on them all, Sanibel and Captiva are iconic of America in their particular brand of beauty. The preservation of these islands despite the over-development of most of Florida and much of the USA is something worth evaluating as well as appreciating.

Among barrier islands, Sanibel and Captiva are unique. Their natural features, together with a climate that is subtropical in summer and temperate in winter, create unparalleled habitat for a diversity of birds, reptiles, mammals and aquatic life.

Sanibel is Southwest Florida’s only barrier island with a significant southern exposure. It formed from a lobe extending from Captiva. Along its south-facing shores, the currents of the Gulf of Mexico deposit countless shells with every tide. Sanibel is also Southwest Florida’s only remaining double-barrier island, in which two major sets of ridges catch rains to produce an extensive system of interior freshwater. Just beneath the surface, a rain-fed freshwater lens protects the interior wetlands from saltwater intrusion.

Vegetation is luxuriant. On the ridges, cabbage palm, strangler fig, gumbo limbo, wax myrtle, wild coffee and a host of indigenous shrubs and trees flourish. In the lower swales, sawgrass, spartina grass, leather ferns, sedges and purslanes dominate.

Captiva, with a high backbone of a ridge and rich with tropical growth, is the older of the two islands. Much of Sanibel was farmed in the 1880’s with crops of peppers, tomatoes, citrus, squash and melons. Forty families had settled the islands by 1890. Salty soil, as a result of storm overwashes, caused a shift to more saline-tolerant citrus by the 1920’s.

But the natural beauty of Sanibel and Captiva could have easily been lost or severely compromised were it not for a vision and commitment on the part of those entrusted with their care.

After months of public meetings in 1995 and 1996, the citizens of Sanibel reaffirmed their commitment to preservation of natural resources by adopting a vision statement that, in part, follows:

Sanibel is and shall remain a barrier island sanctuary, one in which a diverse population lives in harmony with the island’s wildlife and natural habitats. The Sanibel community must be vigilant in the protection and enhancement of its sanctuary characteristics.

The City of Sanibel will resist pressures to accommodate increased development and redevelopment that are inconsistent with the Sanibel Plan, including the vision statement. The City will guard against and, where advisable, oppose human activities in other jurisdictions that might harm the island’s sensitive habitats, including the island’s surrounding aquatic ecosystems.

Sanibel is and shall remain a small town community whose members choose to live in harmony with one another and with nature, creating a human settlement distinguished by its diversity, beauty, uniqueness, character and stewardship. The Sanibel community recognizes that its attractiveness to visitors is due to the islands quality as sanctuary and as community. The City of Sanibel will welcome visitors who are drawn by, and respectful of, these qualities; it will resist pressures to accommodate visitor attractions and activities that compromise these qualities.

Where I live is quite lovely. Where I play is even lovlier. The difference is in the intent as well as content. And both, in different ways, reflect ideals in American beauty. The former has created an emphasis on the manmade and the second has as its purpose conserving what God has created. I feel very fortunate to call both environments "home".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Night of Moonlight on Sweet, Safe Sanibel

Yesterday was our last full day on the Island.

It may have been our best day of the trip.

We woke up with the sun in our eyes and I ran off to do my laps at the Blind Pass Pool. Afterwards, we sat under the ceiling fan on the lanai and talked over breakfast about how nice the time had been. Though we did not do much that we had not done many times before, we find a real safety net in visiting the Island. We count on the consistency of the weather being lovely, the people we know being warm and inviting and the explorations we do being fun and relaxing. Sanibel is a "safe" destination for us as we are never disappointed.

After breakfast we made our rounds picking up some things we needed for the drive back home. A quick but always pleasant stop to speak with our rental manager of Toucan House was next. And then a bite of lunch at The Green Flash on Captiva, always appetizing. Our intention was to eat outside but the wind was so strong we stayed in, still enjoying the great view of the water and boats. A long walk topped off the day, satisfying as always.

But it was the night that made our last day so special.

After dinner on the lanai, we retreated to the upstairs porch. We had dessert up there by candlelight, and enjoyed the silence of that high perch. It was especially lovely with the full moon shining down on us, just slightly illuminating the tree tops that surrounded the porch. It's difficult to believe, but every time we come to the island, we experience a full moon!

But it was a bitter sweet moment as the eventuality of departing was heavy on our hearts.

So we consoled ourselves with planning our next trip to the Island and though it may be a bit foolish to be so certain, we know it will be perfect as it has always been. We don't take it for granted, but we do depend on it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sanibel's Hidden Treasure

Things look different from a bicycle.

It's been a couple of decades- at least- since we were on bikes. But as the old saying goes, biking is one of those "skills" that you never forget.

So we cleaned up our two mountain bikes (quite unnecessary on flat-as-a-pancake Sanibel) stored under Toucan House, and found our balance immediately.

Forgoing the bike paths which are not heavily used but still too routine, we headed out to The Sanctuary where we often do our daily walk. We thought our 7 mile walks would give us the ability to bike with no level of discomfort. But walking and biking are two different things and we quickly found ourselves aching in places we don't pay that much attention to in normal circumstances.

But an ache here or there did not deter from the enjoyment of the ride.

Turning off onto Wilfert Road, we were once again awed at the man made beauty of this exclusive and lush community. Situated on a peninsula at the northern tip of Sanibel, The Sanctuary offers the only private golf club on the Island. Residents of The Sanctuary enjoy the luxury of island living adjacent to a world-class championship golf course.

But more than that, it is impressive that the community was developed in such a way that even the huge homes do not obscure the natural beauty of the area. The homes in this community are surrounded by the serenity and exotic wildlife of the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve, ensuring the community stays true to its name.

But our daydreams do not reside in The Sanctuary. As gorgeous as the homes are, it is difficult to imagine living in one of them.

More to our liking is the next turn of the bike wheel onto Dinkins Lake Road and then onto Henderson with a turn on Starling Way. This enclave of mostly small homes is "olde Sanibel". Though newer, larger homes have been built, the neighborhood is probably much like it was 50 years ago.

The larger lots seem particularly expansive as the land to house ratio is so much greater than in the much more upscale Sanctuary. The lagoons, lakes and creeks criss crossing this area add to its charm and the feel of secluded country life.

This area of Sanibel is not large and its relative small size and very tucked away location make it a real find. One we, ourselves, only discovered this past May purely by accident. But we are sure to return when we come back to the Island as its a wonderful way to step back into the past, on a bike or by foot.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Nice Day Trip from Sanibel

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about day trips from Sanibel. These jaunts are most appealing to people who come for multiple weeks or months on Island who need to change their scenery.

To add another destination---- and one that surprised us yesterday on our day trip there---- is the town of Venice.

It's been nearly a dozen years since we visited the town and though it had a nice infrastructure 12 years ago, it was a little too provincial to be a draw for a renter or owner on the island paradise of Sanibel.

In this intervening decade plus two, the wide palm tree lined main boulevard, Venice Avenue, has become quite sophisticated. The appealing town grid is now further enhanced by lovely shops, nice restaurants and several ice cream parlors. It's a delightful place to stroll and new benches dot the downtown area, surrounded by flowers, invite the ice cream strollers to sit and relax.

Further investigating, this evolution was no accident. The 1920s town plan was created by John Nolen, one of the nation’s first urban planners. Nolen, an urban planner before there was such a specialty, learned from his association with Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect who designed New York’s Central Park, about features that make cities “livable.”

A central park along Venice Avenue is the site of concerts, arts and craft shows, and various special events. Throughout the city are neighborhood green spaces and parks, many design features of which inspired architects and city planners working on what is called the "New Villages” concept of city planning.

In addition to the enchanting down town area, there is a really wonderful natural beach just a few minutes drive from the town center. Caspersen Beach Park is located just south of downtown Venice, at the southern end of Harbor Drive. There is no fee to enter or to park your car. The southern end of Harbor Drive is quite scenic. The dunes block the view of the Gulf in most places, but are quite pretty in and of themselves.

Caspersen Beach is a good place to look for the much desired sharks teeth that Venice is known for.

Venice has been listed in many publications as being the "Shark's Tooth Capital of The World". It hosts an annual festival, the Shark's Tooth Festival, every year to celebrate the abundance of fossilized shark's teeth that can be found on its shores.

In addition to finding shark's teeth on beach shores, many large sized teeth can be found freediving off of the coast or by excavating in the many shell deposits that are left over from the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Beach renourishment efforts also brought new sand from a few thousand yards off the coast, yielding new, but fewer, fossilized shark's teeth. The teeth in the area can vary in size from an eighth of an inch to 3 inches and, on occasion, even bigger.

So, if you are feeling "island fever" after a couple of months on Sanibel, take the 1.5 hour drive north and visit Venice for the day. It will be a satisfying and different experience~!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Moon, The Stars and the Sanibel Lighthouse

After a leisurely breakfast and long walk through the Sanctuary, we decided to just hang out at Toucan House before we went over to friends Lynne and George's home for dinner.

I took a book to the second floor loft bedroom porch and enjoyed the view of near by tree tops and distant roof tops, feeling luxuriously free and easy as the breezes blew through the palms.

But it gets dark early on the Island these days and dusk started settling in at 5, leaving me in complete darkness by 6. Even before I had time to put my book down and get ready to leave for dinner, the moon was out above the palms with hundreds of stars to keep her company.

And I marveled at how incredible those sea journeys years ago must have been with the moon and the stars guiding the way across the beautiful but often dangerous seas.

No doubt the sight of lights and land must have been a welcome vision for the sailors who took those risks.

I can imagine the sea navigators who arrived at Sanibel joyfully sighting the Island lighthouse and their relief to be near land.

Though there is discussion currently on-going as to how the lighthouse should be maintained, I am hopeful that this guiding light will stay bright and continue to be an important element in the history of the Island.

Built to withstand the strongest of hurricanes, this navigational lighthouse has stood on the island for well over a century.

The story of how there came to be a lighthouse on Sanibel Island begins, as is often the case, with a shipwreck. In this case the very ship carrying the raw iron to build the lighthouse sank a few miles offshore after becoming grounded on a shallow-water sandbar.

Vessels from Key West steamed up the coast and were able to salvage some of the cargo. The lighthouse was completed during the summer of 1884.

The tower is unusual in construction. It rests, windmill fashion, within an interlocking iron framework that, in turn, is attached to concrete supports seated deep in the ground. A winding staircase leads over 120 steps to the lantern house, where a modern flashing light alerts passing ships.

Seen from a distance across the lush Sanibel landscape, it appears out of place. Its rigid structure seemingly at odds with the softness of the land on which it sits.

But for those sailors seeking a port in a storm, no doubt the enchanting blinking of the lighthouse eye was as welcomed and welcoming as any fair lady who may have been waiting at the port.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Beachy-Keen on Sanibel!

Another glorious day on this island. Sunshine, clear blue skies, refreshing breezes, music in the air, unsung yet heard. "Oooh, la, la on the isle of Sanibel" as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing it.

After a dip in our condo pool, a nice perq with owning both the house and condo near each other, I headed over to the Blind Pass Beach.

As is often the case, the Gulf was an infinite view of blue-green calm waters. Barely a ripple to be seen.

Birds, as is also often the case, greatly outnumbered the humans on the beach.

So I walked the distance from Blind Pass to the Bowman's Beach public access with my feet at the water's edge and numerous plovers, terns, Ibis and even a heron keeping me company from a short distance.

Exiting at Bowman's Beach, I found a large crowd of bicyclists having a barbeque at two or three tables under the trees. Whatever they were eating smelled delicious.

The path from the Bowman's Beach public access to Toucan House is lightly traveled. I have never encountered another beach goer on the path, though it is a nice one and used as a recreation park.

There are places to stop in the Recreation Park where one can do pull ups, sit ups and vaults, if one were inclined. But after 25 laps at the pool, I did not feel inclined.

I arrived back at Toucan House feeling like this was one of the nicest beach days on Sanibel and that I was really lucky to have had the time to enjoy it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Regret for an Egret Not Living on Sanibel

We did a 7 mile walk through Ding Darling this morning, and it was the best walk we have done on this vacation so far.

There are not a great number of people on the Island this week, and Ding Darling's darlings are visible in significant numbers.

On this sunny, breezy morning, we saw a small alligator of no more than 8 feet sunning, and just a few steps beyond, a grandfather gator probably measuring 15 feet in length.

There were several Anhingas on one branch drying out their large wings and in one clump of mangroves a cluster of 7 Roseate Spoonbills groomed themselves and each other looking like fluffs of cotton candy from an amusement park.

Further into the reserve we spotted an otter running into the water. The otter must have been approaching 4 feet in length and possibly over 75 pounds.

For a brief moment, and an unusual day time sight, a bobcat wandered out from a wooded swamp and and then retreated.

But one of the most amazing and amusing sights was a reddish egret cavorting on the water. Yes, on the water. The egret appeared to be on the surface, quite amazing and also amusing with his unkempt looking crown of feathers.

The reddish egret is not a frequently sighted bird in North America. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs of reddish egrets in the United States. That is not a big number, and my bet is that a good number of the pairs that do exist live in Ding Darling, safe haven that it is.

Which brought my thoughts to the other 6 species of egrets, all but one living in Florida and well represented in Ding Darling.

But the sixth of the egret species, the Chinese Egret, a beautiful, white and elegant bird, is declining rapidly in population. The prior hunting for its feathers, diminishing habitat and insensitivity of humans in encroaching on their colonies to photograph them have left the world with less then 3500 Chinese Egrets. They live primarily in Russia, North Korea, South Korea and mainland China. It is also a non-breeding visitor to Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular and eastern Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei. The Chinese Egret has only been seen in North America in the western Aleutian Islands.

It's too bad the Chinese Egret has not migrated to Sanibel Island. It would be most welcome here, as are all feathered friends, and would find a life free of molestation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Sounds of Sanibel

So much of the enjoyment of a stay on Sanibel is in the little things.

And much of it is not in what we see but what we hear.

The cicada singing, the chewk, chew, chew of the osprey overhead, the gentle sloosh of the Gulf ebbing and flowing all add, almost imperceptibly, to the Sanibel experience.

One more noticeable addition and one we have come to appreciate immensely during our stays on the Island is the sound of WAVV, 101.1 FM radio.

It's an easy listening station. We had one like it in WPAT radio in New Jersey. But the station changed its musical format at least a decade ago reflecting the changing demographics of the area. And literally, overnight as is usually the case with a format change, the easy listening sounds were transitioned to latino.
We love latino music and do still listen to WPAT in our musical mix, but we miss the old WPAT as well.

So we were delighted to find WAVV here on the Island and with a great reception as the station is right across the causeway in Fort Myers. We tune into it in the car as soon as we arrive in the area and keep every stereo/radio/ computer in
Toucan House tuned to the station as well.

The gentle sounds go so well with the tempo of the Island.

It also goes well with Margaritas, Pina Coladas and fresh fish from the Gulf.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Quality of Light on Sanibel Island

We have been at our vacation rental home, Toucan House, for the past several days.

To say it has been sublime would be a gross understatement.

The weather could not be better. Sunny, hot, with a touch of a breeze during the day. The sky is blue, the clouds are puffy and white.

And the quality of the light? Well, there is no describing it.

Much has been written about the quality of light in Provence and other locations around the world.

But I have yet to find a locale with the green, brilliant, clarity of a Sanibel landscape on days like this.

I have been following the light around Toucan House.

It comes in our eyes in our bright orange bedroom, though I have the blinds closed. It is persistent and sneaks into the cracks letting us know the day is beginning and it will be our loss if we do not get up and seize it.

By the time we sit down to breakfast on the lanai, the sun has swept around and though diffused by the palms, it sits on the breeze and comes with gentle certainty.

All day long, I feel the warmth of the light and at times smell the perfume of the light.

As it disappears with dusk, I watch it descend from the small porch off our loft. It colors the sky with its good night good bye.

I am sorry to see it go, but I know it will return in the morning and if, we are really lucky, it will keep us company all day. On our walks, at the beach, as we sit and read. There is no light like the light on Sanibel.