Beautiful Photos of the Florida Scrub

As I kept seeing beautiful photos of the Florida Scrub, I knew I wanted to return to the Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park. Luckily the skies were overcast as I turned into the parking lot at 8:45 am. A white pickup truck turned in after me. Both of us expressed surprise at five vehicles in the parking lot of this rarely used park. We started on the trail at the same time, soon headed in different directions. He ran up the sandy hill as I trudged along my flat, deep sand trail.

Inspiration for my Walk

Where did I see the beautiful photos of the Florida Scrub? They are on Instagram, posted by my writer friend, Dorothy L. Harris, known affectionately as the #FlaNatureNerd. She is a talented writer and photographer.

What’s a Florida Scrub? It’s the oldest plant community in Florida and consists of mostly shrubs along with stunted oak trees growing in white sand. Both Dorothy and I live along the Lake Wales Ridge, remnants of ancient sand dunes when the seas were 100 feet higher than today. The long isolation of this area led to the evolution of many plants found no where else in the world.

Atlantic St. John’s wort

These plants evolved to survive the harsh environment of the Florida Scrub with adaptations to avoid being eaten like the thorns on the sensitive briar in the image above. Also many plants have waxy, curved or stout leaves, which reduce dehydration.

People are Not Adapted to Florida Scrub

As I started my early morning walk, I had on long pants and a long-sleeved white shirt over a tank top. The sky was overcast, so I wasn’t worried about protecting my head. I did carry a full water bottle. Twenty-four ounces of water is heavy, but I was glad I had it when my 30-minute walk turned into nearly an hour.

My head was turned downward, looking for animal tracks on the road and I missed the signpost, “Restricted Area”. When I noticed a large maintenance shed, I realized I made a wrong turn. Darn it! Now I have to backtrack and will be late for my weight-lifting workout with my trainer.

Zebra swallowtail “puddling”

No one in sight as I slinked back out the restricted road. In contrast, a zebra swallowtail butterfly with white stripes played with me, tempting me to try and get a photograph of his erratic flight. Suddenly, he rested on the damp sand to absorb minerals from the earth, known as “puddling”. I had my photo opportunity.

Soon I was back on the trail, where I went to the left instead of the right. Less than ten minutes later I arrived at the parking lot.

An Unexpected Turn of Events

As I entered the parking lot, I saw the young man in the white pickup, Brandon, finishing a phone call. He seemed agitated. He had found three teenagers who also made wrong turns and spent the night in the scrub without sufficient water. One was so dehydrated, he didn’t have the strength to sit up. Luckily, Brandon, a paramedic, coordinated a rescue plan as I returned to my car.

Closing Thoughts

Although I was enjoying taking beautiful photos of the Florida Scrub, unknown to me, there were others fearful for their lives, lost in the wilderness.

Thank you, Brandon!

Brandon and I each listened to our intuition on the directions we took that morning. His intuition sent him on the difficult route, running straight up a deep sand hill, bringing him to the aid of those who desperately needed him.


My lack of attention brought me to a sought after butterfly and delayed my return to witness the heroism and caring we all desperately want to see.

Stay safe,

Self-Care is Crucial for Caregivers

I momentarily forgot that self-care is crucial for caregivers. I’m a caregiver to both my husband and my mother. Certainly, it is easy to get caught up in the needs of others, forgoing your own.

A Definition of Self-Care

One definition is any activity that nurtures and refuels you at a deep level. There are many areas of our lives where we can practice self-care. Often we think first of our physical body. Similarly you can practice self-care in other areas; your emotional and mental state, your relationship with yourself, relationships with others, spiritual beliefs and even work.

Some Examples of Self-Care

  • Getting enough quality sleep
  • Daily time outdoors
  • Massage
  • Crying
  • Laughter
  • Free Writing
  • Forgiveness
  • Nature Walks
  • Meditation and Prayer
  • Engaging the senses
  • Doing something important to you
  • Cooking
  • Goal Setting
  • Boundary Setting
  • Learning New Skills
  • Time with friends
  • Conversations
  • Time with children

Signs That I Needed More Self-Care

I wear a Fitbit, which tracks my sleep patterns and my resting heart rate. Most noteworthy was the dramatic increase in my resting heart rate from 67 to 74 in just eight days. While the resting heart rate was soaring, my quality of sleep rating plummeted to the 60’s.

My Method of Self-Care

It had been months since I had walked the paths of my favorite public garden Bok Tower Gardens . On the morning of that eight day of increased resting heart rate, I told my husband I was going to spend time walking before I performed errands for him and my mom.

I was benefiting multiple areas of my life in this one act of self-care. My physical body was experiencing time outdoors. Nature walks are a form of meditation for me, boosting my spiritual care. By engaging my senses during the walk, I lifted my relationship with myself. Finally, I had a chance encounter with a friend along the path and enjoyed a lovely conversation, adding the self-care of relationships with others.

Measurable Positive Results

In the five days since I went for my self-care walk, my resting heart rate dropped each day and is now at 68. My sleep score for the same five days now has an average of 80. I feel rested, calm, and was able to meet a writing deadline in addition to this blog.

A Challenge for You

Whether you take care of your family, your pets, or just yourself,  self-care is crucial. I challenge you to find at least one way you can do something just for you, something that makes you smile, that makes your heart sing. Life is short. Take care of yourself. Love yourself.


Perspective Changes Everything

As I noticed the swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley over three days, it reminded me how perspective changes everything. In my early gardening days, I always picked off caterpillars. After all, they were another pest in my garden. The connection between a caterpillar and the beautiful butterfly wasn’t solid in my mind until I studied biology in junior high school.

Who Doesn’t Love Butterflies

My first reaction at seeing the yellow and green striped caterpillars was, “Yes, finally!!” I was overjoyed to have caterpillars on my parsley. Although I planted it for my consumption, I also expected the eastern black swallowtail butterflies visiting nearby Pentas, to lay a few eggs on one of their favorite larval plants, parsley. I consciously invited these little caterpillars to my herb table.

Nature works in concert to keep the natural order in check. Birds eat insects when they are plentiful, lady beetles eat aphids when they explode and I pick off caterpillars when there are more than my parsley can survive.

I call this being a steward of my garden. With the help of my dog, Sugar, we removed most of the caterpillars from my parsley, leaving seven of the largest ones to mature into adults.

From One Animal to the Next

When I visited the parsley this morning in hopes of finding a pupae, I was horrified to find a multitude of snails instead. Snails and slugs can decimate a garden of tender plants like parsley. I set about picking them off the bare stems and breaking their shells against the terra cotta pot. Yes, I can be brutal in my garden.

Soon I realized there were too many of them to exterminate by hand. Quickly I headed to the storage building where I have a corner for all my friendlier pest deterrents. I rummaged around until I found the well hidden Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait. After reading the instructions, I decided to apply right then.


My interest in my garden is diverse.
I love the plants.

  • seeing the shapes, contrast, or colors
  • inhaling the aroma of my white flowers
  • eating their fruit
  • feeling the softness or hardness of their leaves
  • admiring individual plants and carefully arranged groups

I love the birds and butterflies.

  • hawks announcing their territory at the top of a tree
  • red cardinals chirping and hummingbirds finding nectar
  • sandhill cranes flying over with their clear rattle calls
  • Gulf fritillary butterflies emerging on the maypop
  • the first zebra longwing attracted to the native firebush

I admire the circle of life in nature.

  • swallowtail caterpillars devouring my parsley
  • Vermin eating fallen fruit, corn snakes eating the vermin
  • bald eagles diving for fish in the lake
  • alligators capturing fish or turtles in its jaws
  • man hunting the alligator, eating the tail meat, tanning the hide

All my life, judgement is with me, keeping me safe by warning me the stove was hot, sometimes reducing my happiness when I judged or felt the sting of judgement from others. My pain from judgement brings tears as I write this, tears for me and for all those I judged. What is left after letting go is forgiveness, love, and caring.

My hope for you is appreciation, understanding how perspective changes everything, letting go, and love for all, especially yourself.