Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Holy Places on Sanibel and Captiva

With so many people unable to travel to these beautiful barrier islands this past week due to the hurricanes up NORTH, the Islands feel untouched and unexplored. While we were fortunate to not have even a heavy wind from Irene, the heavy rains, flooding and tree destroying gales in such places as New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and DC, among many others, have kept our little roads and beaches empty for the past 7 days. With such quietude, it feels like hallowed ground.

But this will be changing soon enough and it does make one reflect on the places most quiet and spiritual left to enjoy when the holiday makers return.

Of course, on such a lovely barrier island, there are innumerable sacred spaces in our natural world. Sunrise or sunset on an empty beach, a bike ride through Ding Darling, a walk through the Bailey Tract will all offer opportunities for tranquil contemplation.

But the man made holy spaces are equally enticing.

Take for example the Sanibel Community Church.

The Sanibel Community Church , with a multi denominational congregation, has long opened it's doors to residents and vacationers alike. And those doors are about to become wider as the Church just broke ground for a new multi purpose facility.

The new building will consist of a 600-seat Sanctuary, a bookstore and church administrative offices. This occasion heralds the culmination of more than one year of cooperation between the church and community leaders.

The existing Family Life Center will also be getting a face lift during the construction phase in order to house the growing Children's Ministry on the first floor, and Youth Ministry to teens on the second floor. Sanibel Community Church in recent years has had sustained growth in their Children and Youth Ministries.

The Historic Sanctuary will remain and continue to be used for an 8 a.m. Traditional Service, as well as for weddings, memorial services and other community events.

Another sacred space is Chapel by the Sea on Captiva. Captiva Island’s Chapel By The Sea is a seasonal Christian ministry open to all from Thanksgiving through Easter. The historic Chapel is denominationally independent and welcomes everyone regardless of their spiritual beliefs. The Chapel nurtures a strong community within and is committed to generously supporting Outreach in the broader community. They meet every Sunday at 11a.m. for worship,with indoor and outdoor seating followed by fellowship: coffee, iced tea and sweet treats!

St. Isabel Catholic Church has had a long history marked by growth since Bishop Hurley bought a tract of land on Sanibel Island. The twenty acres was to become the center of St. Isabel parish. Shortly after the property was purchased Father Miguel Goni, administrator of Ascension Parish on Ft. Myers Beach, began using the property by having picnics and social gatherings. Just about this time, Father Goni would come to Sanibel by boat every Sunday and say mass in private homes. The normal means of transportation to Sanibel was a ferryboat until the bridge and causeway were built in 1963.

St. Isabel's is a community united by their faith. Conscious of their beautiful surroundings, and grateful for God’s many gifts, the congregation shares their time, talent, and treasure. St. Isabel welcomes all, parishioner and visitor, to be nourished and encouraged sacramentally.

The Reform synagogue, Bat Yam, Temple of the Islands, also offers sacred solace to its members at the Sanibel Congregational Church of Christ on Sanibel. During the first year, 61 families joined and decided to affiliate with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the organization linking 85o Reform Jewish congregations in the USA and Canada. Services were held twice monthly and a first Community Seder was held on Passover that year in 1991.

During the summer months, services were at member's homes.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I think You're Going to like this Picture (of Sanibel and SW Florida)

We often "borrow" photos from Flickr.com, a website that lets users post their photos and share them (or not) with others. And we have found some great pix to use through this means.

But we wanted to tease our readers just a bit as well as promote some of the exceptionally good photographers who live on or visit Sanibel Island and environs and who have captured the beauty of the South West Florida so poignantly. Because their work spans the whole of SW Florida and beyond, we find the Island photos to be only one reason of many to recommend them.

One of our favorite websites for great nature photography is that of Richard Fortune and Sara Lopez: http://www.throughthelensgallery.com/-/throughthelensgallery/default.asp
They capture the environment in a way that will amaze, entertain and even frighten with the close up look at our most benign and most fearful of creatures.On this site you will see dolphins leaping, birds feeding their young, and alligators showing off their large mouths and even bigger teeth. Dick and Sara take you right into the Sanibel environment. What we particularly like and enjoy with this site is the large image that you can click through, giving you, the viewer, a close up and personal view.

Another highly valued photographer is Gordon Campbell. Like Dick and Sara, Gordon' work reflects the beauty of the state and even other areas, but we think his pictures on and of Sanibel are among his best shots. Of course, we might be somewhat prejudiced, but take a look and let us know what you think: http://www.swfloutdoorphotography.com/ One of the things we like about Gordon's site is the photographer's ability and willingness to share his skills. Gordon gives tips on how and where to get the best photography and even offers tours and classes in photography. And, as with Dick and Sara, Gordon also donates his time and photography to worthy organizations in SW Florida.

One photographer whose work we admire uses a special method to enhance his photos. Ray Bilcliff, whose work covers many aspects of photography in many, many locales, has employed "paintography" to make his pictures literally jump off the page. According to Ray "The world is full of natures true natural beauty. The true beauty of nature has been enhanced in my photos by the use of paintography a sort of mixture between oil painting and photography. Curling and twisting the pixels to create works of natural art." Ray's work and his use of "paintography" can best be viewed here: http://www.behance.net/trueportraits

And, of course, last but certainly not least, is the work of David Meardon. http://www.sanibelphoto.com/store/fine-art-note-cards-matted-canvas-prints/

Dave's work can be found all over the Island and his photos are often used on the prints sold as well as greeting cards sold in the shops Island wide. These are special views of Sanibel as seen through the eyes of a Sanibel "insider". David Meardon is a Sanibel Island professional photographer living and working on the island since 1981. Using his camera and creative eye, David documents events and captures the beauty of the area. A graduate of Oberlin College, he began his career as a photojournalist, initially with the Providence Journal and then with the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.

David's photos have appeared in National Geographic Video, Oprah Magazine, and numerous newspapers, books, magazines, and calendars both locally and nationally. He has won photographic awards in editorial,advertising and wildlife categories. David is the recipient of the 2005 Island of the Arts Award presented by the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce and is the winner of the 2007 The Best of the Islands Gold Award for Best Photographer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where or where is that little Black Bear (on Sanibel)

Inclined to be some what of a worrywart, especially about animals, I can't help but wonder where the bear spotted in late June is making his home.

Sanibel Island, which is two-thirds a nature preserve, is not the native home to bear, but one young male did find his way to the Island a little over a month ago.

Whether he was attracted by the lure of some place new, was aware that no harm would come to him from humans on the extreme-pet friendly barrier island, or somehow intuited that there were sweets aplenty on Sanibel, the "little" guy made his way over and caused quite a stir among residents and visitors alike.

Based on a photo taken, the baby black bear is believed to be about a year and a half old and weighing between 40 and 60 pound. But how does a creature that makes it's home inland and usually in northern Florida, get to an island? He might have been island hopping from the mainland. He could have easily swam part of the way, walked part of the way during the low tide it has been suggested.

Because Islanders are so animal crazy, the bear might have had a happy home for life here, but doing what bears do naturally, he sought out a special treat and now has become bear-non grata.

Wildlife officials decided to capture and relocate the male bear because he raided a beekeeper’s beehives a couple of weeks ago, creating $20,000 worth of damage, most of it in the consumption of honey. It was a joint decision for the safety of the bear, it would be better off relocated somewhere else.

Up to this point, I have not been concerned, hoping that the bear would go on his own.

But according to the reports I have been reading, the bear has not been spotted in a while.

And that has me thinking.

It's a jungle out there for the bear. The humans will capture him safely and humanely if he is still on island. But there's no telling what a hungry alligator or two will do. While our two legged visitors know better than to go near the lagoons and ponds where the gators hang out, this immature bear has no inkling of the dangers that exist.

At this point, I will only rest easy when the bear has been found and relocated.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Never too Early to Plan: Shellabration 2012 Good Reason to Think Ahead

Sanibel sells seashells by the seashore. Yes, there are stores, plenty of them, where you can buy shells or art objects made of shells. And there are shells aplenty to gather at the beach. But now there is an extra flair for shells with the annual Shellabration held on Island.

Aside from the Island spirit to be found during Shellabration, there are bargains to be had and discoveries to be made.

Shellabration 2012! is an island wide, week long celebration of the Sanibel Shell Fair and Show, designed as a tribute to the island's shell bounty. The celebration will run from February 26 through March 4, with the shell fair and show running March 1 to 3 at The Community House.

Shellabrators from around the island are joining in on the excitement with events and promotions. Everybody is invited to participate. A calendar of events will be prepared and promoted in local and national publications. Below is current list of Shellabrators:

• Amy's Something Special, 630 Tarpon Bay Road, is going to offer a 15 percent discount on locally made shell pendants wrapped in sterling silver.

• BIG ARTS will be participating with a shell-theme art exhibit in the Theater Lobby Gallery February 26 through March 4.

• Billy's Bike And Rentals, will be giving all customers (on-line and in-store) a raffle ticket for a chance to own a signed Shellabration poster designed by artist Pam Brodersen.

• Sanibel Historical Museum will have several shell collections on display throughout Shellabration week inside the Rutland Home, Burnap Cottage, Morning Glories and the schoolhouse. In addition, there will also be a shell collection from Thomas Edison with a letter to authenticate it from Mina Edison.

• Great White Grill has created its own microbrew, Shellabraton Beer, to be available during Shellabration week.

• She Sells Sea Shells will be running two promotions during Shellabration week: 25 percent off craft supplies including wood and paper mache boxes and frames, many other paper and wood items, glue, glaze, glitter, glass jars and mirror backs; Sailor's Valentines priced at $275 will be reduced to $75.

• The Sanibel Public Library will have a shell book reading and fossil shell displays featuring 120 different species as old as 5 million years. Some of the shells are extinct and some are found at the beach today. The fossils are from the Burnt Store area is in North Fort Myers. For 10,000 years the area has been dry land. Before that, during the Pliocene and Pleistocene eras it was at times a shallow bay of what is now the Gulf of Mexico. When stockpiling this fill on the Library building site in the early 1990s, the material was observed to be full of marine fossils, evidence of the abundant life of the ancient sea.

• A Shellabration necklace will be offered for sale at various venues around the island. It will allow for creative additions to make each one as unique as its owner.

• Children's art, The children of the island will be invited to get involved by creating a special Shellabration! work of art.

• An attempt to break a Guiness Book of Worlds Records with the Sanibel Stoop will take place Friday, February 17.

• Opening Gala at Traditions, Sunday February 26.

• Fashion show luncheon at Sweet Melissa's featuring one of a kind shell adorned garments.

• 75th Shell Fair and Show, Thursday March 1 to Saturday March 3.

• Rusty Brown presents In Celebration of Ann Morrow Lindbergh, followed by a traditional ice cream social.

So if shells are your thing, and Sanibel is your place, you do want to start a conversation about visiting the Island during Shellabration 2012!