Sanibel Olio

Olio. Olio, with an “i”, as in a diverse mixture, hodgepodge, or miscellany.

Not oleo with an “e”. Oleo is the butter substitute invented by the French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès in 1869.

Oleo is not butter, which must, in the USA, be 80% butterfat and 18% water, with the remaining 2% for “other”, as in lactose, milk solids, etcetera.

Today’s olio is a mix of geological, ornithological, herpetological and artistological. Our geological start is the mangrove lagoons of Sanibel’s Ding Darling preserve. The tide was flooding in, pushed by the wind, when we came through, so there weren’t a lot of birds to be seen.

There are sand and mudflats where birds congregate to rest.

On one of the side trails, we saw a white ibis, who, unbothered by humans or cameras, stood for a portrait. On one leg.

Here are some fellow Ibises, on the Gulf of Mexico side, feeding in the waves.

In the mangroves, crabs cruise the stiltroots that prop these trees.

Mangroves will grow in saltier environments than almost all other plants. Some species actually have organs in their leaves that excrete excess salt. At higher elevations, less salty, other species can thrive. The sea grape is one such. Sea grape leaves are beautiful in every stage of growth, from bronze at “birth”, to green with red veins at maturity, and yellow, orange and red at senescence. A sea grape in full dying-leaves color is as ablaze as any New England sugar maple.

Below, a sea grape flower bud unfurls, with a soon-to-fall old leaf in the background.

Yesterday afternoon, an alligator made his daily cruise down the canal that is at the back of the house we’re staying in. Sloooowly he swam. The guidebook says “one mile per hour”.

Alligators have big eyes. Big eyes are a help in low light conditions. Their eyes are also very sensitive to motion. As I photographed this ‘gator, each time I moved, it would stop swimming, and let the back part of its body sink below the surface, leaving only head and nostrils showing.

From the alligator, we now segue to another herp, who here is regarding the photographer, to see if he be friend or foe. This was a good-sized critter, at least 13-14″ of shell length.

Those are sea grape leaves in the background.

This turtle is a Florida Cooter. They’re abundant in the canals here. You often see them up on logs, basking in the sun. I read that ‘gators enjoy a meal of cooter. This may explain the two big divots in the shell of this cooter, which wandered across the yard this afternoon.

The one that got away

And we have another story about “the one that got away”.

A few days ago, returning from a trip out, we found shed snakeskin pieces here and there on the floor of the screened-in porch. Mystery. Where is the snake?

This afternoon, while cooking supper, the mystery was solved. From the corners of our eyes, we saw motion on the porch. There was a three foot long black racer, trying to get back outside. We have no idea where it has been for the last three days, but it’s nice to know that it’s not inside anymore.

We close with the artistological image.

For the past few days, thanks to a strong push of cold air from the north, there have been strong winds from the east and northeast. The occasional shower or thunderstorm zips through, spritzing mist, dispensing drizzle, and hurling the occasional bolt. The cloudscapes have been varied and fast-changing. Late yesterday evening, C. looked up and said, “Goodness! Look at those clouds!”.

The light was fading fast, but there were some interesting shots to be had. Here’s one of them…

Clouds and norfolk island pines, a sunset on Casa Ybel, Sanibel.

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