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THE SEASONAL ART OF A MYAKKA LANDSCAPE

The Seasonal Art of a Myakka Landscape

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

It's never predictable what you might see at MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK.  The fields might be in flowers.

Or they might be flooded.

Or they could be in transition as they are now.

The fields and trails could be One with the Myakka River, or they too could be readying themselves for a rebirth.

Along the road you may be greeted with a wet grassland or a dry one.

But whatever time of the year you may go to the park, you're bound to notice its abundance of wildlife and its engaging conversationalists.

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Why not check it out?  But do remember...whatever you expect to see, you might not see but whatever you DO see can still be worthy of a picture or two.

Life is Good At Myakka

Life is Good At Myakka

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Because the Myakka River has gone down significantly, I was wondering how MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK looked and whether the alligators were out and about.  I first checked out my favorite trail since that's where I see the biggest alligators.  The woods were relatively dry and the trail was pretty clear in the beginning.

Up ahead I could see a huge flock of roseate spoonbills hanging out on the other side of the river.  Because I wanted to get some closer shots of them, I continued down the path trying to avoid all the debris that seemed to have found its way into the woods.  Eventually the trail was blocked by some tree limbs that had cracked off a nearby tree.

Because I wanted a better shot of the birds, off the trail I went and into the poison ivy I stepped.  "I better get a really nice shot," I thought as I gingerly stepped over one plant to find myself next to another.  As I made my way back to the trail, up ahead I could hear a bird screeching out my arrival to his buddies.  Fortunately the spoonbills stayed and I was able to get off a few shots.

I still wasn't close enough to get the shot I wanted.  On I continued as my noisy buddy continued to herald my arrival by his incessant screeching.  "If I could only get a little closer..." I thought.  "If that bird would only shut up...."  Just then I noticed why he had been screeching.  He wasn't warning the spoonbills.  He was warning the two alligators who were hanging out on MY side of the river.

Because they were too near the shoreline, I ceded the territory to them and headed back.  I figured I would find something else to photograph.  It wasn't too long before I noticed that some alligators had surfaced and a few had made their way to the opposite side of the river.  There they were enjoying the sun and the gentle breezes.  One was particularly photogenic so I snapped away....

I next decided to drive down the main road of the park to check out how the fields were looking.  It was amazing to see the change.  The water had receded and mud or dirt lay in its stead.

Because the park was going through its metamorphoses from wet to dry, the deer were there to nibble on the emerging young grasses.

Since they looked as though they needed to graze in peace, I left them and drove a little bit further along the road.  To my amazement, I encountered an alligator slumbering right beside the road.  He seemed to be at peace with the world as he hugged the bank and exhibited his dreamy "life is good" look that I sometimes see on Myakka's alligators.

Life MUST be pretty good for these alligators because this alligator had nothing on his plate except sleep and an occasional happy smile.

Is It So Heavy That It Can't Be Carried Home?

guest post by Nancy Dobias

Sometimes I wonder what others see when they go to Myakka River State Park.  So often for me, I see a landscape of gorgeous scenery, of wondrous colors and textures, a picture that an artist could have painted.  I may see that pretty picture along the river....

I may see it in the wetlands....

Nothing ever stays the same.  The landscape is ever changing.  The beauty of golden fields might be replaced by the wonder of delicate pink flowers reaching up out of the marshes....and no matter what it is, it is still a thing of beauty.

Even one of Myakka's huge trees, fallen victim to the raw power of Mother Nature, could still grace the canvas of a artist and perhaps still be chosen to hang on a wall in someone's home....

So, what is it that other people see when they decide to spend a day in the GREAT OUTDOORS?  Why is it that some visitors to the park see it as their own personal trash dump?  For those who want to cast a net to catch bait fish or whatever they do with this net, why can't they take it home with them? 

For those who feel compelled to drink along the trails or river, why is it so difficult to haul out the EMPTY cans or bottles?  Weren't they heavier when they were brought into the park?

What is it that they see that others don't see when they make that decision to leave their garbage in the woods?

I bet the fawns and all the wildlife of Myakka would like the answer to that one.   I know I would!

CREATE A LANDSCAPE FROM MYAKKA'S BEAUTY

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CREATE A LANDSCAPE FROM MYAKKA'S BEAUTY

guest post by Nancy Dobias

Golden meadows kissed by the sun are still yours for the viewing if you happen by Myakka River State Park.  The magnetic draw of the fields must be overpowering as nervous parents throw open their car doors and kids of all ages throw caution to the wind as they race to the fields in delight.  These fields not only have the pull on the human children, but they also beckon fun-loving fawn as well.  Of course, second-nature does govern their behavior.  Curiosity controls the fun-loving abandon as the fawn first peeks through the flowers to determine if we might be a threat.

Since Mom was nearby, she also was consulted.  Mom had years of experience in the park and figured all would be well but she did, however, monitor the area before she was satisfied that her youngster would be safe.

It must not have been the response the youngster expected because he still wasn't quite sure it was safe to leave Mom's side and romp among the wildflowers.  Mom checked once again.

It was then that we decided to let them enjoy their lunch in peace and go elsewhere in the park to check out what was happening.  Since we hadn't been to the weir for awhile, we next drove there to see if it was open.  Although it hasn't been repaired, the path to the weir is open and visitors could walk out to the weir.  At the weir are two pathways through the tall grasses that allow you to view the passageway of water over the weir.  Fish must be abundant because generally birds and alligators can be found congregating near the weir.  You must be careful when you walk through the grasses because you never know what also might be sunning on the banks of the lake.

Although he didn't mind our taking a few pictures of him, after a few minutes of taking pictures enough was enough! Since he wasn't being cooperative, we checked out the other path beside the weir.  The birds were more plentiful here.

The alligators were still around but they weren't as evident.  In fact we never even noticed the one beside the bird.  Birds and alligators live in such close proximity that they seem to tolerate one another quite well.  If you haven't been to the weir in awhile, springtime is a nice time to check out the wildflowers in the vicinity.  It sure makes for a pretty landscape.

Our last stop was to check out the BIRD WALK.  A storm was moving in and we weren't sure how long we had before it hit.  The Bird Walk looks like a fantastic place to view a sunset or sunrise but I don't know if it has the right alignment for that to happen.  It's also a great place to view a storm a'brewing....  Florida storm clouds amaze me.  It's impressive to see how low those clouds can be.

Since the storm was ready to hit, we got off the Bird Walk and as we retraced our way back through the park, we took one last lingering look at that "river of gold" and wondered if the fawn ever did get to take his fun-loving romp through those fields of gold.  It was raining up ahead.  Maybe the fawn might enjoy running through the "sprinkler" too. It sure was an interesting day at the Magical Kingdom of Myakka...a baby alligator who only wanted to cross the road, a fawn who wanted to leap among the wildflowers, alligators who wanted to doze in the grasses and visitors of all ages who couldn't get enough of the park's beauty and appeal.  It's all there.  All you have to do is decide to go.