Biking the Pahayokee

Shark Valley Bike Trail

The Shark Valley Bike Trail is a ~fifteen mile loop in the Florida Everglades. Pahayokee is the Seminole word for the region, which means “grassy waters.” (Marjory Stoneman Douglas had a similar thought.)

Ardea herodias

Among others, alligators, park rangers, Athenian expats, great blue herons, Germans, fish, French Canadians, pig frogs, turtles, and Midwesterners mingle in the summer heat.

Shark Valley Bike Trail

Cyclists meander to the midpoint of the trail, a forty-five foot observation tower providing panoramic views from the highest elevation in the Everglades.

Shark Valley Bike Trail

Before ascending the concrete loop, massive cocoplum bushes offer up trailside nibbles.

Shark Valley Bike Trail

Shark Valley Bike Trail

Shark Valley Observation Tower

Shark Valley Bike Trail

Macro vistas stun.

Ipomoea sagittata

So do the micro ones.

What If?

Canal in Naples, Florida

The shopping cart in an algae-choked Naples canal brings to mind Rob Hopkins’ 2019 book, From What Is to What If. With a teacher’s luxury of extra time to wonder (and wander) during summer months, both the inspiring and disgusting trigger daily “what if” questions. The first four are chapter titles from Hopkins’ book…

1. What if we followed nature’s lead?

2. What if we started asking better questions?

3. What if we took play seriously?

4. What if school nurtured young imaginations?

5. What if we replaced lawns with native plants?

Pollen Bathing

Helianthus annuus and Apis mellifera

“So the colors of flowers have evolved to ideally tickle the eyes of bees, and I think that’s a truly wondrous result. It means that beauty, as we know it, is not only in the eye of the beholder, it arises because of that eye.”

-Ed Yong

Helianthus annuus

30,000 Lbs of Salix

Sea Change, by Patrick Dougherty

Sea Change, by Patrick Dougherty

Sea Change, by Patrick Dougherty

Sea Change, by Patrick Dougherty

Sea Change, by Patrick Dougherty

According to the Naples Botanical Garden’s website, “North Carolina-based sculptor and environmental artist Patrick Dougherty, his son, Sam, and handpicked local volunteers have transformed approximately 30,000 pounds of willow saplings into an immersive structure on the Kapnick Caribbean Garden lawn.”

Quick Work

Danaus plexippus on Rudbeckia hirta

A sharp-eyed third grader discovers this black and yellow curiosity tucked under the leaf of a black-eyed Susan while planting the butterfly garden at school.

Danaus plexippus on Rudbeckia hirta

The caterpillar morphs into this chrysalis in under an hour’s time. We’re awestruck.

Shaving Brush Tree

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Elongated acorns occupy branches once all the leaves fall in late winter.

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Pink blows up brown every night.

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Pseudobombax ellipticum

The Pseudobombax pollinator block party swarms for weeks. Can you hear the dembow?