The Adventures of Beulah

Marilyn Myerson


The butterfly counts not months but moments,
And has time enough.  

Beulah the butterfly contemplated this quote from Rabindranath Tagore as she set about her business. This wisdom filled her with much joy as she soared off on her journey northward.  Not even Botticelli‘s palette could reproduce her lustrous peacock blue as she sparkled iridescently in the sunlit morning.

Flapping her magnificent wings, she felt a slight wafting in the wind, as it passed over her elegant body, creating an infinitesimal change in atmospheric pressure. This slight perturbation was enough to ….But, wait, we will find out soon enough….

Meanwhile, many miles away, Hannah looked for a conference seat. At this summer meeting of the International Chaos Theory in Kansas City, chaos itself often reigned.  The assembled scientists and mathematicians (more…)

A Fish Tale

Robert Strozier

Many years ago I sold a piece about bass fishing to the New York Times Magazine, describing my never-ending quest—along with fishing buddy Geoff Ward—to outwit the wily denizens of the deep.

The Times wanted a photo of me fishing to run with the piece—the expectation clearly being that I would catch a fish—so a photographer named Karen joined us one day on an angling expedition. The pressure was on big time—I now answered to untold millions of readers.   (More…)

Different Angles to Trout Creek Conservation Park

Story by Diane White
Images by Donna McGrew,
Sheryl Long and Diane White

Look up, look down, try viewing nature from a different angle. That was the challenge given to OLLI-USF’s Better Composition for Outdoor Photography class at their field trip to Trout Creek Conservation Park located in Hillsborough County northeast of Tampa.

Using the composition techniques discussed in a prior online seminar, the class spent the morning looking for subjects to improve their photo skills. We started by taking a leisurely stroll along the short boardwalk which leads along the Hillsborough River to the canoe launch. Trout Creek Conservation Park proved to be a gem, offering a variety of ecosystems to explore, including the shorelines along the Hillsborough River, pine flatwoods under tree canopies and the edges of a floodplain forest. The zig-zag boardwalk and early morning dew provided many subjects for creative nature shots. (more…)



T’was the Night Before

Neil Cosentino

It was the night before Christmas Eve in 1970 at Torrejon Air Base near Madrid, Spain. I was a captain in the United States Air Force and the junior aircraft commander of one of the three Strategic Air Command (SAC) KC-135 tankers.  We were from three different air bases. My home base was Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. We were there to provide backup air refueling for the SIOP war plan, emergency air refueling and training sorties. It would be another Christmas on SAC alert duty away from our families.

It was the first day of my two days off from alert duty. I had made plans to go into Madrid and do my favorite thing: enjoying the city as if it were a living museum. I was always surprised during my walks in Madrid, London, Paris, Tokyo, Copenhagen or Rome that when I roamed these cities at random,  (More…)

America’s Fragile Democracy

Don Menzel

America is a 245-year-old experiment in democratic governance that is in grave danger of vanishing from the globe. Oh, you say, why are you so pessimistic? It never, ever occurred to me that I would see in my lifetime so much ill-will and downright ignorance embraced by millions of Americans. And then, as I began to ponder why so many Americans had reached this point, an “aha” moment struck me. Perhaps the stars had aligned to cast such a dark shadow.

Let’s begin with our fading civic culture, the social glue of trust that is essential for living with one another, add (More…)

The Birds of Marco Island

If you’d like to work on your paddleboarding or kayaking, you should consider the tidal lagoon at Tigertail Beach Park on Marco Island.  As you’re probably well aware, Marco Island is a barrier Island in the Gulf, a bit south of Naples, linked to the mainland by bridges. It’s a wonderful place for a vacation.

Marco Island is also an outstanding place for photographing birds.  Birds that are somewhat commonplace for us, but wildly exotic if you’re from, oh, England for example. As our photographer, Paul Sullivan, is.  We’ll tell you what he has to do with OLLI at the end of article, but first, let’s take a look at his photographs.  (More…)


An Unsolicited Testimonial

Lynne Sebastian

Because I drew the short straw, again, I’m sitting in the Wash‘n’Go laundromat in Richfield, Utah, on a hot July afternoon with Calvin as my laundry buddy.  The laundromat is an archetype of its species – sickly green paint on the cinderblock walls, dull brown asphalt tiles spattered with fleck of yellow and orange on the floor. Large windows on either side of the front door are plastered halfway up with fliers advertising trucks and hay and various used appliances for sale, a fundraising dinner and dance benefiting a family whose little girl has cancer, posters for lost dogs, and an offer from someone wanting to trade a lawnmower for a chainsaw.  A double row of washers, back-to-back, runs down the center of the floor; the far wall is lined with industrial-sized drum clothes dryers. Along the wall where I am, there is a row of uncomfortable hard plastic chairs, a vending machine for tiny boxes of detergent and fabric softener, and a change dispenser that turns $1 and $5 bills into quarters.  The year is 1978.  The air is permeated with the smells of overheated fabric and Clorox.

There is no one in the place except for me, the old lady who runs the laundromat, and (more…)

Tranquility greets the OLLI-USF hikers at Lake Dan Nature Preserve

Diane White

We took off in small groups from the parking area of Lake Dan Nature Preserve in northwestern Hillsborough County near Odessa. A short walk later, as the trail takes a turn, we were rewarded with a view of a tranquil lake filled with birds and other wildlife. The boardwalk over the marshy lake with its diverse habitat is exactly what drew us to choose this park for our monthly adventure.

After being cooped up indoors for so long, we especially enjoy the opportunity to safely gather outdoors. Lake Dan Nature Preserve is the perfect spot to safely hold a group hike, or just explore on your own. The trails are well-marked and wide, stretching out over open spaces of pine flatwoods. Originally this property was used for citrus production, cattle grazing and as a wellfield for potable water. Horse farms and agricultural uses still border the property, along with some new residential developments.

On this day in mid-February, we found that the boardwalk provided the perfect (more…)


Mother Earth

At the current 2021 COP26 meeting in Glasgow, member nations are struggling to agree on solutions to the earth’s rapidly warming climate and its effect on all species making their home on this planet. Renewed calls for a 1.5 degree Celsius cap in temperatures will require substantial national commitments to reduce fossil fuel use and emissions, and to preserve forests and restrict global carbon levels.

In the spring of 2020, more than a year ago, lockdowns enacted in response to the original coronavirus threat resulted in astonishing evidence of the earth’s capacity to heal when human activity is reduced. Jan Vaupel shared a series of reports from around the world with links to the source material, and added her own personal reflections in a poem.    (More…)

Growing Up in Small Town America

Don Menzel

I was born in Lincoln, Illinois, in 1939 but grew up in Atlanta, Illinois, a farming community of 1,300 residents ten miles north of Lincoln on Route 66. My mother and father were blue collar workers—she a waitress and he a lineman who worked for the Central Illinois Electric Utility company. So you might ask: was growing up in a farming community with parents that are not farmers fun? Boring? Out of touch with a future that was not to be? Namely, becoming a farmer!

Oh, I thought I was going to be a farmer. I was an active member of (More…)