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Yesterday we went up with some friends to Treasure Cay and spent some time locating the Blue Hole near there.  At first we couldn’t find it, but after asking some very helpful locals for assistance, we finally figured it out.  As we drove up the road toward it, we could see a forest fire raging in the background in the  general area where the wild horses live.  But since we were on a wide and safe road, we forged ahead.

This Blue Hole we were looking for is 3.6 miles north of the Treasure Cay road and to the left for 2.5 miles. 

The blaze was apparent in some places.  The smell of smoke was everywhere. 

We parked on a two-lane dirt track that we thought was the road to the Blue Hole and the guys walked ahead to see if they could find it.  We followed after they shouted for us to come.  We  walked down the road past the burning grasses along the side. 

An old truck drove up and a woman stepped out. She is Milanne Rehor, a person who has dedicated her life to protecting the wild horses on the island.  She is worried that the horses will be badly affected by all this fire as they are losing their grazing areas.  We chatted with her for awhile, then she got back into her truck and left.

We stood there, listening to the crackling of small fires, amazed with the strangeness and beauty of the setting.

Milanne Rehor

It is fun to read about Blue Holes in the Abacos and there is a lot to learn about them.

They tell us that the top of the water in a blue hole is fresh water and deeper down is oceanic saltwater.  There is a  layer in-between that really doesn’t support much life.  The story of the blue holes is fascinating.

But when you really get to a Blue Hole,  it feels eerie to peer down into one. It is deep and possibly treacherous.  It feels as though if I were to fall in that I might sink and  never be seen again.

There are people who swim at this site and find it a wonderful experience.  Next time I will wear my swim suit and give it a try, but think that I will do it with a life jacket on just to appease my instincts.  If you look closely at this photo you can see the rope tied to the tree where people swing to jump into the water hole.  They tell me that the water is refreshing.

We did not exactly jump in, but one of us did check out the temperature of the water.

 

I took photos of the hole from different angles. It is an amazing site.

See how deep it is?

If you ever have the chance to go find a Blue Hole, please do.  It is well worth the effort.

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Kayaking Tour in the Abacos

Ricky Johnson, of Abaco Nature Tours took us out for a kayak ride just five miles from High Banks.  It was a delightful tour.

He is very knowledgeable about the plants and birds and points them out as he goes along.  We learned a great deal about our local natural habitat from him, as well as stories about how Bahamians use plants for nutritional and medicinal purposes. He also advised us on a great herbal drink to give to kids who say they are too ill to go to Sunday school.  One look at the drink and they are well again.  He is informative and friendly and really kept us interested in where we are and what we are seeing around us.

A half day tour with Ricky gave me a perspective that I did not have before on the plants and birds that comprise the many micro-environments that  surround us.

Ricky picked us up at 8am and drove us just a short distance from where we live.  He headed up the road toward Marsh Harbour, made a hard left into the woods and we bumped along on a two-tracker until we reached the western side of the island, filled with shallow lakes and canals, and marls that lead to the ocean.  The tide was on its way down, so when we touched our kayaks into the water and headed out, we had an extra push from the tide taking us out.  I figured I had better rest up, because coming back was going to take some heavy paddling.

We headed across the lake toward the marls.  Then Ricky signaled for us to go right into the marls with our kayaks, into tunnels of roots that made a really beautiful canal.  We could see small fishes around us everywhere.

The water was rough and pushy on one side of the marls, and beautifully peaceful on the other.

Ricky grabbed a red mangrove root and we all joined him and sat there and chatted about where we were and what we were seeing.  We rested up, knowing that we had to push to get back.

Then we turned around and headed back to the shore to head home, through the tunnels and out into the open, wind-pushed tide-driven lake.  

He held our interest by pointing out the birds and plants of interest on the way back.

In all, we probably traveled ten miles, of which one or two of them were in the ocean water.  Yet in this short half -day trip we discovered a great guide and a very interesting tour of our area, listening and learning, and paddling.  Great fun.  I really recommend it.

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Rainy Day in Paradise

When it rains on this island, it rumbles.  
Last night lightening streaked across the sky, thunder woke us up several times.  Finally, early yesterday morning, it burst into rain.  We got up to watch.  Our electricity was off inside the house, but there was plenty of electricity in the sky.
Front road mud puddles
Afterward, bright grey water settled on the dirt road out front
quite different from the brown mud-puddle 
that we get in New York.  This water reflects softened coral rock.
After awhile, the sky broke open with scattered light.
The ocean was still but the sky was not.

Plants opened up and started uncurling from their parched positions, relaxed with water.

This coconut palm captured the joy of water received.

Our Birdhouse

The backyard looks greener, softer.  The birdhouse sits midst stunning greenery.

Sabal Palm tucked under old almond tree stump.
Native sea grape in rain.
Wet hibiscus overlooks native plants.
Our upper deck, as our neighbor call it, overlooking nature’s theatre.

A perspective on our home from the  point of view of the native sea grape.

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Less apocalyptic than the blank that I first put up.








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I love putting fresh flowers together from the garden.  It dresses up everything, except me.

I used to wear formal suits and heels but now my work dress is “garden casual”.   I  wear a pair of old hiking boots with white sports socks, worn out shirts, baggy pants covered with paint stains.  To top it off, I wear a big hat the covers my face and protects me from the hot mid-day sun.

Here I am on the steps getting ready to head out to the garden.
My office
Project Number 1
Typical work site for Project # 2
Staff meeting – just the way I like it.

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Due to the pleasures of grandchildren, I have not written very much on my Blog this spring.  But after spending almost a month on the west coast, we returned to New York to discover that New York is hot and humid!  And the garden looks great.  The peonies have already come and gone, but the roses and lilies are flourishing.
As for grandchildren, I highly recommend the following incredibly expensive toys:  water, a bucket for pouring, and a water hose.  After cardboard boxes and a rubber ball, water is the best toy ever invented.
Children also revel in playpens, if one needs a way to contain them for a few minutes.  But they have to use it as a group.  Its more fun.

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 When this Azaelea bush is in bloom, I know that for sure, spring is here.  It is such a splash of color, just before everything else comes out in bloom.  Without exception, it is the first bush in our yard to be in full color and always contrasts with the brown bushes and trees that will bloom a few weeks later.

The giant peony is also set to bloom, and looks lovely with the tulips tucked underneath.

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Happy Easter!

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Spring is here, and the outdoors has shifted from frozen and cold, to cool and beautiful. My Australian friend recently reminded me in my “Spring is here” blog, that it is autumn there.  But spring is here, for sure.

I took some shots of the yard and tried to record the sound of a bird that I like.  I wish that I knew the name of the bird, but I don’t .  I have concluded that he is a small guy and not so colorful, because he is hard to locate.  He has a high whistle, like the sound of someone whistling to bring in the cattle or sheep.  I love the sound of it. It is a sort of high “da dee dee, dee, deee.”. Unfortunately, he only sings when the video is not running.    If I ever do catch the fellow singing in one of my videos, I will add him to this site.

For my kids, I captured their father heading out the door with the compost.

Take a look, click here:

 Composting in the spring

Your Dad misses you.  He and I had to pick up the slack on many of your old jobs that you left behind when you headed for college.

I remember one cold wintry day when our daughter walked in the door with the compost bucket in her hand and said “Well, that is that last time that I’m doing that”, with her head all wet, and her feet all muddy.  And it was.  We let her get away with it because he helped out in so many other ways.

As for the boys, I recall them taking the compost out every once in awhile, under duress.  But the end result, thanks to all their dedicated work, is lots of flowers and very rich dirt in the side yard.  Thanks, kids, for all those buckets that you carried.

Joe and I drove past our neighbors and three little kids were having an egg hunt, with their Dad watching them from the front porch.  One of the little boys was so excited that he forgot to run, and stood frozen in place just imagining where an egg might be, with the silliest grin on his face, his shoulders all scrunched together and wringing his hands with delight, that big silly grin on his face.  He was about 6 years old.  We cracked up laughing at him.  It reminded us of the many egg hunts that we had in our side yard.  Joe and I also used to hide the kids annual art supplies along with the colored eggs.  Our kids found hidden in the yard, sidewalk chalk, squirt guns and art materials, like crayons and paint sets.

We used to have a contest to see who would find the last colored egg.  I think one of the eggs actually made it to the 3 or 4 month mark before it was found.  No one ate it.

Here is our back yard during a lovely spring rain.  Click here:  Backyard in spring

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Paradise

Colors Galore
Space to Explore

We arrived on Saturday to be met by perfect weather, peace and quiet, and so much color that it was hard to know where to focus one’s eyes.

Coming from the black,browns and dull greys of winter in New York, then to the pastel colors of the Abacos is really staggering.

Even though there has been limited time to play on the beach, those few moments that we had are so memorable.  The water is crystal clear.  We saw dolphins, Bally hoo, baby baracudas and jacks.  Joe almost bumped into some angel fish with his head when he was snorkeling out front.  They were so close that he couldn’t see them.

Just beautiful.  I will always miss this place.

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The Coconut Palm has Value

  We picked up a coconut that fell from our tree out front of our home in the Abacos.  Matt and Joe busted it open using a variety of means that included using a hammer and a machete and incorporated a lot of cheering and encouragement from our two grandaughters who were watching.
Here is Lila showing how it looks inside.  
We grated up the coconut and it had nice flavor.  But we wondered, how healthy is it to use the oil and meat of the coconut? A family debate ensued over the value of a coconut.
The New York Times just put out an article on the value of coconut oil.  It seems as though the problems with the oil were mainly from the items added during manufacturing.  Just using plain old natural ingredients of coconuts isn’t so bad after all. 
I would recommend opening up a coconut with guests as a high form of entertainment as long as one stands way back when the men take over.

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