Okay, I’ll admit it. I guess I do have a mental “bucket list”. I have always been put off by catch phrases and running with popular trends. But, well, some things are so universal that they just pull you in. So, even though I don’t have a list written out, when the moment arrives and opportunity knocks I recognize those things which are among my deepest desires. Many of these things have to do with places to see and wonders to behold. Occasionally it is an event. I recently saw my very first live performance of Phantom of the Opera. Wow. It was all I hoped it would be. That was the real moment I realized I had my own “bucket list”. I suppose it has to do with hope and disappointment. Perhaps if I didn’t acknowledge these desires then I would not be let down when they didn’t manifest for me. But it was an incredible feeling to realize one of my deepest wishes; and this past weekend I found myself realizing another bucket list dream come true. Anyone who knows me and anyone who has followed my blog knows how much I love nature. And animals. And photography. Most of all, I love photographing nature.
Did I mention I am a mermaid? Well….my fins are missing…and there isn’t any tail. And I can hardly hold my breath for more than a minute under water. But the rest is ALL me. Seriously, I connect with all things in and around the ocean. I go there whenever I can; and I have a husband who indulges me as often as I want since we live close. Standing in the surf and gazing at the waves is the closest thing to Godliness I have ever been able to imagine. So, you could say that much of my “list” is full of animal encounters, many of them creatures that live beneath the ocean depths. Whales, dolphins, starfish, seahorses, and my best friend, the turtle-all miracles in my mind. It has always felt to me that my true home lies beneath the waves, in that magical kingdom where the mermaids live. But there are creatures that are as close to being mermaids as I can imagine. Once I read about them, they took hold of my heart and there sparked a hope to one day see the beautiful, gentle Manatee.
We visited a state park where these creatures come for refuge from the cold waters of Winter. There they glide, play, rest and love one another. When I looked at them through my lens, watching them beneath the clear, aqua waters of the Spring; it was as though life slipped into slow motion. My own heartbeat slowed down, my mind found solace in not thinking, and my soul felt connected as to no other animal I have ever seen. I hope you enjoy the photos I got while we were there. I didn’t have my polarized filter but I do plan to return and visit them again before the chill leaves the waves and they drift back out to sea. To wave goodbye and say thanks for being so beautiful.
Did I mention the manatee are very affectionate? I watched them cuddle, stroke and kiss each other for several hours.
The Florida manatee is an aquatic relative of the elephant. Their front flippers help them to steer and sometimes crawl across the sandy bottom in shallow water. Their powerful, flat tails help to propel them through the water. They are thought to see and hear quite well in spite of their small eyes and lack of visible ears. The manatee play an important role in plant growth in the shallow rivers, bays, estuaries, canals and coastal waters where they live. They are herbivores, feeding mostly on sea grasses and freshwater vegetation. Today’s population is estimated at approximately 5,000. They are found in warm waters, rarely venturing into water lower than 68 degrees. Manatees communicate by squealing underwater to show express fear, stress, or excitement. Gestation lasts about 1 year and each birth produces 1 calf, weighing between 60 and 70 pounds and are about 3-4 feet long. Calves nurse underwater.
Manatees are affectionate, playful and gentle.
I hope you enjoy the photos I have put together. And please enjoy my favorite song as well. If John can imagine it, so can we……