Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sanibel's True Colors

Prior to the last Presidential election, there was a lot of speculating on where the state of Florida was going to go.

Historically, the state wore the red in the flag.

In years gone by, Florida was always the "count on" conservative state, though the red was concentrated in the rural areas of the north.

But as folks from New York and New Jersey moved down, and Latinos and Haitians immigrated in, the solid red became subdued in color.

And once
the mortgage crisis hit, jolting the high-foreclosure state and its presidential politics it was any body's guess as to how the state would go in the Presidential election.

As everyone now knows, the sunshine state backed Obama. More Floridians voted for John McCain than Barack Obama on Election Day, but the Democrat sealed his victory in the state by winning more early and absentee votes.

An Associated Press study of 94 percent of the state's total shows that the Republican beat Obama by almost 5 percentage points on Nov. 4, but Obama trumped McCain by 11 percentage points in early and absentee balloting. Overall, Obama beat McCain 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent in Florida, becoming only the third Democrat in 11 presidential elections to carry the state.

But the red has been so diluted by blue on Sanibel, that it has nearly been extinguished.

Lively debate around politics is still alive and well, however, as residents on the Island as well as visitors to the Island, come in all shades.

Open minds and discussion of the political arena and world concerns can be found in every corner of Sanibel, so a search for pure red or pure blue on this 12 mile tropical paradise is difficult to find.

The only pure color that will reveal itself in the end of a search is green. Those who live on or travel to Sanibel largely do so for enjoyment of the environment. And they want it natural, peaceful and green. Luckily for residents and visitors alike, they will find it that way 12 months of the year!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Festivals Abound in and Around Sanibel in October

October is both a delightful as well as delicious month on Sanibel Island.

Stone Crab Season
On October 15, Stone Crab season begins.

Select restaurants celebrate the opening of stone crab season with specials throughout Lee County. Succulent native stone crab claws, one of Southwest Florida's tastiest delicacies, are that much more precious because they're available only seven months out of the year. They are usually served chilled with tangy mustard sauce, or sometimes warm with drawn butter.

The 24th Annual Oktoberfest takes place on the week-ends of October 16-18 and October 23-25. Celebrate German food, music, dancing and culture at Lee County's largest annual Oktoberfest. Highlights include authentic live entertainment from local music groups plus one direct from Germany, along with plenty of German food and beer. Gates are open Friday 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday noon to midnight and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. with church services at 11 a.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, $6 at the door. Location: German-American Club, Cape Coral. Phone: 239-283-1400

4th Annual Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival
Oct. 23 - Nov. 1
Paddlers, competitors, families and outdoor enthusiasts from around the country are expected to attend the one-of-a-kind eco-event. Ten days of festivities will include canoe/kayak races, a kayak fishing tournament, paddling clinics and demonstrations, seminars, family activities, archaeological and environmental events, guided tours, speakers and more celebrations along the Calusa Blueway paddling trail. Location: Based in nine waterfront communities throughout Lee County. Phone: 239-433-3855

If you have not as yet planned your trip to Sanibel for October, air fares are down and there are some great vacation rental condos and homes available and often discounted. Where do you think you can have a better time than Sanibel Island?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Armadillo is Strangest of All Sanibel's "Residents"

Admitting I am smitten by all things great and small on Sanibel Island, I must also concede that not every creature is created equal.

That is not to say that a mama Armadillo does not find her babies gorgeous.

Or that Jane Armadillo does not find John Armadillo enchanting.

But from my point of view, a human one, I am not sure what to make of this hard shelled digger and burrow dweller.

He looks like a rodent-snake with his pointed snout, but this little guy is a mammal.

Armadillos have short legs but can move quite quickly, and have the ability to remain underwater for as long as six minutes.

Because of the density of its armor, an Armadillo will sink in water unless it inflates its stomach and intestines with air, which often doubles its size and allows it to swim across narrow bodies of water. There's no doubt about it, he sure makes an odd duck in the water.

Armadillos have poor vision. The armor is formed by plates of dermal bone covered in relatively small, overlapping epidermal scales called scutes, composed of bone with a covering of horn. In most species, there are rigid shields over the shoulders and hips, with a number of bands separated by flexible skin covering the back and flanks. Additional armor covers the top of the head, the upper parts of the limbs, and the tail. The underside of the animal is never armored, and is simply covered with soft skin and fur.

Gestation for Armadillos lasts anywhere from 60 to 120 days, depending on species, although the nine-banded Armadillo (the only species found in the USA) also exhibits delayed implantation so that the young are not typically born for eight months after mating.

With all these peculiarities, the Armadillo makes for an unusual topic of study and one I would think children would find particularly interesting. If you know a child with an interest in wildlife, you might want to consider purchasing a little book called Dillo, written by a Sanibel resident. A fanciful story about a baby Armadillo, each page is artfully illustrated in water color depicting real life animals and environment.

Real life or works of fiction, Armadillos are among the many aspects of Sanibel's abundant nature worth taking a look at by "children" of all ages!