Sunday, July 19, 2009

Free-For-All

July is National Parks and Recreation Month! In celebration, park entrance fees were waived at all of Florida's State Parks today. It was also a beautiful, sunny day with no clouds in sight. It was a BUSY day at the park! It actually felt like a summer weekend. It was really nice. The photo of the parking lot was taken around 9:00am. It was nearly full! It filled up the rest of the way by 11:00. We had a couple of dive classes today with medium sized groups, as well as a few other small diver groups. We also had a small group of fishermen and LOTS of swimmers. The larger dive groups were led by instructors that come to Troy regularly, so they didn't need much attention. I also did not have to worry about checking to make sure that people paid. I spent the whole day just talking to people. I also found some small projects to get into during down time.
Its funny being at a park with so many visitors who come back regularly. I kind of get to know some people and they in turn get to know me. I have always thought that it was a good thing. Today it was a little weird. Last summer, my hair was long, past my shoulders. This summer it is short, off my neck and wonderfully cool! I didn't think much of it when a dive instructor last weekend told me that he liked my new haircut. Today however, a visitor told me "that haircut may feel cooler, but it doesn't help your looks." I couldn't believe it! All I could do was smile and laugh. When I told him that someone else told me they liked it he said "well he isn't a redneck like me, I like long hair." I welcome comments and suggestions about the park, but my hair!?!?! That is just silly. I ended that conversation when I saw a beautiful butterfly that I have never been able to photograph before. It is one of two very similar butterflies called Anglewings. One anglewing is a Comma, another is a Question Mark. I am guessing that this butterfly is a Question Mark based on the range shown in my field guide, Commas are usually found further North. To be sure, I would have to be able to see the underside of the wing where a small but distinct white comma or question mark would be found. I have always admired these butterflies but they always fly away before I get a good shot. I finally caught it! I guess it was a good thing that I had to stand there and endure the ridiculous conversation about my hair, I was still long enough for a butterfly to settle down.
One little project that I took care of while I wanted to be available to visitors, but not be overbearing was to trim back vines that were growing over the railing on the walkway to the spring. It was kind of funny how many people said 'good job with that' or 'hey, that looks nice.' Its great working around people who are in a good mood. It was a small, quick project, but I think I must have walked away from it four times before I was done to answer questions or show visitors something. I also found a few critters while I was trimming. One was a Two-striped Walking Stick, also called a Muskmare. They are more commonly found attached to a mate, but this one was single. It was well burried in the leafy plants above the railing. The other critter was also well hidden in the leaves. A little moth was roosting under a leaf. I guess he didn't hear that the rain stopped and he could come out. I also found a beautiful little purple flower on a vine. It is called a Leather Flower. It was being devoured by ants and things, but it was still so pretty.
When my relief got to the park around 2:00pm, I headed over to Adams Tract to help out the volunteer that lives and works there. He was having some trouble with his RV and needed an extra set of eyes. I helped him and talked about the park for a while. I also took a minute to enjoy the view of the river and get a photo of a big spider! This is a Banana Spider, also called a Golden Orb Weaver. Its web is actually a gold color, its really beautiful. This spider is a female and the little fella behind her is male. The female gets much bigger than the male and she is the one that builds the web. These spiders will keep the same web for a long time (until some poor park visitor or employee gets a web in their face) and just patch it when needed. The tiny little male is a freeloader. He lives on her web and eats the food that she catches. They are even sometimes sneaky about mating and will wait until the female is busy eating. This must have been a very attractive spider (I thought so) because she had 7 or 8 males on her web. Poor thing.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Excellent way to end that conversation, "Oooo look, butterfly!"