Photo essay: Thoughts for Earth Day 2021

Nature needs plenty of miracles to survive human ‘progress’

A little green heron pauses in its search for dinner. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Last evening, on my way home from Jessica’s Farmstand, a little green heron appeared on the side of the road. Intent on foraging for dinner, he was unconscious of oblivion just inches away as drivers raced home to their own meal. There was no chance of stopping to shepherd him to safety. When I looked back, he was gone.

Suddenly, all the losses I have experienced exploring natural Florida over the years seemed summed up in this one small bird. It was like a knife to the heart.

Sandhill cranes still hang out on Honore Road, their home. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

I turned up the music. To ease my way through traffic, I listen to the Brandenburg Concertos, near losses themselves. In 1721, Johann Sebastian Bach sent them to Christian Ludwig with hopes of securing himself a job. He never heard back. The concertos surfaced in 1734 after Ludwig’s death and were lost again until being finally being re-discovered and published in 1850, the centennial of Bach’s death. Since then they have enchanted generations of music lovers; they even were sent into outer space on the Voyager Golden Record as an example of the epitome of human endeavor.

A miraculous appearance: Ixia, lost for 165 years, reappears in Starke. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

A bird on the side of a road could never experience such a miracle.

On my way home, I pass piles of pines along Honore Road, felled to build more houses. Once trees were revered in the Florida landscape — longleaf and slash pines, oaks, cypress and dozens of other species. Native peoples sought refuge in the mangroves during hurricanes. Early settlers would make a pilgrimage to “grand” trees like the Sherman oak, following in the footsteps of indigenous peoples for whom that tree was sacred.

Another miracle of survival: An endangered giant air plant thrives on a scrub oak on a forgotten parcel on Route 41 in Naples. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Now “my” trees along Honore Road — cooling in summer, always beautiful — will live on only in my memory.

Bald cypress is part of Florida’s history. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Just when I am thinking that we are hanging onto this planet by a thread, a swallow-tailed kite wheels through the evening sky, assuring me that the beauty of natural Florida lives on.

Slash pine is seen through a veil of Spanish moss. Pines are part of the matrix of Florida. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
A limpkin poses in the oak canopy at Myakka River State Park. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Another miracle: Longleaf pine is preserved in Chinsegut in Central Florida. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Preserve by planting. These are Sabal palms, another part of Florida’s rich history. Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri
Let us strive to preserve pines and all of Nature’s treasures! Photo contributed by Fran Palmeri

Fran Palmeri is the author of Florida Lost and Found: Nature in the Changing Landscape, available on Amazon.

2 thoughts on “Photo essay: Thoughts for Earth Day 2021”

  1. What a magnificent article! These pictures are outstanding. What a coincidence that these Florida treasures have a human treasure like Ms. Palmeri to photograph them so beautifully!

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