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…)

 

 

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 Innkeeper

Mary Bowers

Jacob put down the pen, pushed back the stool, and stretched out his long, lean arms. His stiff back resisted painfully as he struggled to his feet. His feet – how they throbbed in their sandals!

It had been a busy day, reflected Jacob, stroking his long, graying beard. The profits were worth it, though. His sharp black eyes again scanned the figures of the inn’s assets. Yes, he had finally made it. He and Sarah could retire to that little farm in the country, and his son Ben could take over the inn.

Twenty years ago, when he had first bought this run-down inn, he had dreamed of this day. He had worked hard to enlarge the inn and the stables and to keep them in good condition. In a town like this, where the census was taken every ten years, a good innkeeper needed only two good chances to make his fortune. True, the years in between (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…)

 

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…)

 

Our Start In America

 

Fred Barthmus

My family arrived from Austria in New York’s Idlewild Airport (now Kennedy) on a very cold January 17th, 1957. The family included my parents (Johann and Herta Barthmus), aged 46 and 48, sisters Brigitte, and Sieglinde (aged 14 and 16 years respectively), and my 12 year old brother Hans-Jürgen. I was just over 20 years old. We landed after a harrowing 28-hour flight in a Flying Tiger Airlines prop plane.  Because of two major storms over the North Atlantic we had to land on the Azores, and at Gander Airport (Newfoundland, Canada). As we were landing in New York we saw the impressive skyscrapers of Manhattan in the distance. After going through customs (each with one suitcase) we were welcomed by a representative of the Lutheran World Federation, and taken by bus to the Pennsylvania Station. It had snowed that day in New York City, but the snow had started to melt, and was mostly gray and dirty. A shocking first impression was   (more…)

Beautiful Sunrise or a Threat Lurking?

Mystica Green

When you first look at this photo, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “What a beautiful sunrise.” But if you look closely, you will see a threat lurking on the sand. The remains of a sandcastle built the day before and half washed down by the ocean is more than troublesome to sea turtles.

From the time hatchlings emerge from their nest buried in the sand, they’ve already had the odds stacked against them. A very daunting fact is that only one in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings born will ever make it to adulthood. Humans have sadly contributed to this fact. With six out of the seven species of sea turtles on the endangered species list, it is (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…)

The Family Cottage: A Love Letter

Diane Russell

“The afternoon is serene, simple, and pure at the cottage. Beneath the shadows of the trees, I lie in the hammock. The breeze that calms me and the whispering leaves create within me a tranquil lull… I hear the ducklings quacking; they, too, enjoy resting in the comfortable grass. The fragrant odors of the flowers sweeten my contemplative thoughts. It is time for sunset. I walk to the bank of the river. Now the motor boats don’t disturb the water. The waves sprinkle my face with tasty kisses. In the sparkling water, I see the reflection of an iridescent sky, and I reflect on this ethereal sight.”

In 1973, I recorded these impressions of our family cottage in a college literature class essay. This treasured property in Johnsburg, a northeastern Illinois village along the Fox River near Wisconsin, was (More…)

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Lucinda Knox

What is the appeal of horror?  I remember reading the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe with a friend from junior high years ago. We would sit with a flashlight in the back of a dark closet in my home in Illinois, taking turns reading and scaring ourselves half to death. At night, still terrified, I would bolt under my covers, hiding my head under the blankets while still imagining the horrors from “The Fall of the House of Usher.” You would think that experiences like that would have turned me away from that genre forever. But not so. As others have discovered, it is cathartic to read these books. After all, they deal with the many unanswered questions that humans have grappled with through the ages.

From Greek and Roman myths and the writings of the Bible, to the medieval stories of werewolves and vampires and the Gothic novels of Hugh Walpole (The Castle of Ostranto that Jane Austen skewers in Northanger Abbey), to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, and to all the books that follow, storytellers have pondered such questions as, (More…)