Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Conversations" Heard Around Sanibel Island

September and October are generally quiet months on Sanibel, and this season is no different.

At the moment, there is a constant breeze, possibly a souvenir from Hurricane Sandy, but without the ferocity or rain.  It's quite nice and certainly creates a sound spectacular.

But when the breezes calm down, with so few people and so few cars on Island, it is now possible to tune into the many other sounds on the Island. And if you listen intently, you can hear conversations taking place in every nook and cranny throughout Sanibel.

There's the who, who, who of the Great Horned Owl, the ack, ack, ack of the water birds (Egrets, Heron and Anhinga among them), the screech of the Osprey, the growl of the Alligator, the chirp of the frogs.

Just the other night, rental guests who rode their bike at dusk through Ding Darling remarked on a squeaking coming from the brush.  They were certain it was neither bird , amphibian or reptile.  And about the only mammals we could think of that make the noise that our guests described are bobcats, specifically mother cats calling for their young.  And so ruling out other possibilities, we are pretty certain the squeaks were from a momma cat and we envision a conversation of this sort:  " It's getting dark.  Time to stop playing and come eat dinner.  Come on now, I am not going to call you again."  Since the squeaks continued for quite a while, we had to assume she was not getting any response.  So finally the squeaks changed tone, and we are pretty certain this was the last comment before silence fell: "If you make me come looking for you, you are really in for it!"

With Halloween rapidly approaching, we are certain that any one who encounters the sounds of a fox on Island will have a hair raising experience.  Both the red and gray fox can make many vocalizations, and some of them will truly raise the dead.   The one that we know will catch the ear and attention on Halloween and any day is the yip, yip, yip of the red fox, concluding with a loud, one note "woman's scream" which has yet to be explained. So we will explain it as we see the situation.  Although the red fox is increasing in number, your chance of seeing one of these small secretive animals in the wild is extremely rare. It tends to hunt at dawn and dusk, and its keen sense of hearing keeps it at a safe distance from noise-making humans. The fox is a surprisingly fast animal, disappearing into the understory in a heartbeat. So our interpretation of the scream is purely a try to see me if you can taunt to those of us who hear the cry but can not find the source.

Have you heard any unusual conversations on Sanibel?  If so, we hope you will share them with us!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Photographers We Really Like: Sanibel through the Lens

Although Sanibel  is one big "photo opp" ,   there are some out there who have captured the beauty, magic, drama and warmth of the Island in truly remarkable ways.

Yes, having a good camera, a good eye and a good location certainly make a difference in the results.

But stunning photography is much more than that.

To find the right place to grab the image, you may have to move around.

Then, to capture the sun, freeze a bird in motion, still the waving palm; you may have to possess the special patience of a saint.

High on our list of gifted and talented photographers is a Sanibel resident, Laitham Haddad.  His images make amazing use of light, creating an artistic chiaroscuro contrast of brightness and darkness.  Laitham's moody images of clouds, sunsets and ominous storms are definitely his trademark.  His photo images can be seen by the public on the Facebook page, Two Eyes One Image.

Another favorite is Gordon Campbell.  We find ourselves wowed by Gordon's detail, especially of birds, though we have seen one particularly outstanding hungry looking gator among his shots. Gordon not only provides fabulous photography, he offers advice on his website, Southwest Florida Outdoor Photography, covering every nuance....from what camera to buy, to when, where and how to shoot to get your best possible image.

A recent find has been Jim Anderson whose site, Our Islands in the Sun, feature photos of both Sanible and Captiva and range from vibrant flowers to cool greys water scapes.  Our favorite perspective, of course, is the beach.  And Jim has one scene of some rocks, palm trees and the Gulf that looks like something straight out of the South Pacific.  While Sanibel is uniquely Southwest Florida, on any given day and from any given place it can take on the tones of the Caribbean or Fiji and Samoa.

And speaking of Samoa (pun intended), in highlighting those skilled photographers out there, we can not possibly leave out Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez.  A visit to their site, Through the Lens Gallery, delights both the eye and the ear.  Their use of music reminiscent of South American Andean folk tunes----or maybe they are Indian----or possibly just a fusion of world music----- just enhances the visuals.  And the visuals are simply amazing.  Action appears to be the coin of transaction for Dick and Sarah with birds prancing as water flies in every direction and dolphins leap in the air.

And there are photographers who we do not know, but whose visions grace the pages of Audubon Florida, National Geographic and many other large sites that inlcude our beautiful little Island in their dramatic landscapes and nature photography.

Thanks to all!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big Arts On Sanibel Big Draw in Winter

One of the things that differentiates Sanibel from most tropical, vacation resorts in Florida is the incredible number of cultural events a tourist can find on our Island.

And the core of these activities is Big Arts, a cultural series and symposium that covers everything from classical music to health and science lectures.  The events begin at the end of October,  and carry through until the end of March.

Here is just a small sampling:

  • Film: Women on the 6th Floor (France), Monday, October 29, 7 PM
Set in Paris in the early 1960s, this film tells the story of a serious but uptight stockbroker leading a consistently uninteresting life. Matters suddenly change when he is led by Maria, a beautiful new maid in his luxury building, to the servants' quarter, where he learns to open up to an altogether different world. Film critic Roger Ebert describes the movie as a "pleasant, even-tempered romantic fantasy."

  • Theatre:  November 13 - 20, 2012  
Theatre Conspiracy's production of Becky's New Car drives over the Causeway from Fort Myers onto Sanibel for an encore run at BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater. Becky's New Car is the story of a frustrated, middle-aged mother and wife who a wealthy widower mistakenly assumes is a widow herself. When she repeatedly neglects to correct his mistake, Becky finds herself swept up in a double life and charade speeding dangerously off track.Laced with adult humor, playwright Steven Dietz spins a touching tale about the detours we make on the road to happiness. Performances are 8 p.m. November 13 – 20, and a 4 p.m. matinĂ©e November 18. Opening Night Reception, 7 p.m. Thursday, November 13.

  • Classical Music:  December 2, 3:30 PM

Jinjoo Cho is the First Prize and Orchestra Award winner of the 2010 Buenos Aires International Violin Competition and the People's Choice Award winner of the 2006 Montreal International Musical Competition. She has appeared as a soloist with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Seoul Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra and the Aspen Concert Orchestra. A native of Seoul, South Korea, Jinjoo Cho is a graduate of Yewon Art School and the Korean National University of Arts. She moved to the U.S. in 2002 to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music. A Cleveland Plain Dealer review describes Cho as a "young artist of extravagant gifts ... a forceful, expressive musician."
Hyun Soo Kim completed his Master's degree in Collaborative Piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2011, where he received the Rosa Lobe award in Collaborative Piano. He has performed as soloist with the University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra and the Newark Symphony Orchestra.
Their program will include
John Corigliano: Sonata for Violin & Piano
Beethoven: Sonata for Violin & Piano Op.12, No.1 in D Major
Strauss: Violin & Piano in E-flat major, Op. 18
Paganini: "La Campanella"
Franz Waxman: Carmen Fantasy

  • Dance: Gulfshore Ballet's The Nutcracker Suites

4 PM Saturday, December 22, 2012

at BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall

Southwest Florida's classical ballet school, Gulfshore Ballet, presents their performance of selections from The Nutcracker

  •  Lecture: Richard Norton Smith

Topic: America Divided:
The Polarized Presidency

7:30 PM Sunday, January 13, 2013

Richard Norton Smith is a presidential historian and former head of six presidential libraries. He has published numerous books, including, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, a finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. Smith has served as director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum; the Dwight D. Eisenhower Center; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and the Reagan Center for Public Affairs; the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library; and Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. He is a nationally recognized expert on the American presidency and appears regularly on C-SPAN and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" as part of the roundtable of historians. Smith is currently scholar-in-Residence of History and Public Policy at George Mason University.

There is so much going on this winter, we may have to do a second post!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fifteen Kinds of Turtles on Sanibel Add to Natural Diversity

Sanibel Island is a great place to live.

Not just for we two leggers, but for four leggers, winged friends and everything fascinating that swims or crawls.

And there are so many wonderful and varied friends on Island that walk, swim, fly and crawl!

According to the staff herpetologist at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation  there are  15 different varieties of turtles alone found on the island. They include the Florida softshell turtle, loggerhead, green, Kemp's Ridley, leatherback, Florida snapping, Florida chicken, ornate diamondback terrapin, Florida redbelly, peninsula cooter, Florida box, red-eared slider, yellowbelly slider, striped mud and gopher tortoise.

One of the  great presentations featured by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), entitled "The Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins of Sanibel and Captiva," explains the lifecycle of some of the islands most intriguing inhabitants, how they have survived through millions of years and how miraculous some of these shelled creatures really are.

Aside from the visual diversity the turtles provide, their behavior is a very interesting aspect of nature to study.  For example,  the temperature of sea turtle nests will determine what sex the babies will be. And, leatherbacks can dive to 3,300 feet, carry twice as much oxygen in their blood than other sea turtles and have a very high metabolism. Other interesting nuances about turtles include:  Walking helps snapping turtles draw in air to breathe, soaking in the sun assists turtles in synthesizing Vitamin D and helps reduce the growth of algae and parasites, and tortoises can go without water for up to six months, storing moisture in its bladder

The turtle's shell is beneficial in many ways.   It not only provides protection against predators, but it also helps regulate internal temperature, absorbing lactic acid and preventing dehydration.

It's fascinating to study the various body parts of turtles — including the carapace (top) and plastron (bottom) of the reptiles — as well as what methods they incorporate for breathing, digging and flipping over.

While visitors may not come to Sanibel specifically for our 15 varieties of turtles, having them here certainly helps the Island to offer the unique eco-diversity it does!