My Last Full Day in Venice, Florida

February 2, 2014 21:46 – 21:46

This morning, I decided to go to the 10:30 service at UUCOV. The sermon was called He Said, She Said, and was ably delivered by the Rev. Mike Young, their interim minister. They’re currently undertaking a search, and are down to three candidates. Given the winter weather up north this year, I suspect that their search hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The sanctuary was packed. At first, I wondered if there’d be a place to sit. But, my old standby—the front row—seldom fails. I couldn’t find a hymnal near my seat, but that was okay. The two hymns were Spirit of Life, which the church seems to sing every Sunday, and Gather the Spirit—both of which I know by heart.

For All Ages was kind of fun. It began with an acknowledgement of the beginning of the new Chinese Year. They’d had a bunch of fortune cookies made up especially for UUCOV, and the children passed them out. They were all meant to inspire the congregation to ante up for the annual canvass. While it was an interesting thought, it did leave visitors feeling a bit at odds. But, we rolled with it.

The sermon was about stories—true and otherwise. Rev. Mike told a story he’d been told by a Catholic Priest in Chicago. It was from around 460AD, when the bishop who would become St. Patrick was told to drive the Wiccan priestesses out of Ireland. They had snakes (not real) affixed to their arms. And hence, this was the “driving the snakes out of Ireland” we hear about.

The story goes that the bishop was told to shut down one particular Wiccan temple overseen by a priestess named Brigit. He went to her and offered her a deal. Either she leave and close down the temple, be killed, or, she could convert to Catholicism, in which case he would make her the Abbess of the nunnery which the temple would become. She took door #3. In making her the Abbess, however, he failed to stop in the ritual book, and accidentally went to the next page, and said the words making her a Catholic Priest. She thereby became the first (and one of the few) woman priest in the Catholic church. She later became St. Brigit.

The problem is… Rev. Mike couldn’t find any other validation or confirmation of the story. His conclusion: the story is true, even if it never really happened. His point is that the stories we tell and their meanings are more important than their historical accuracy.

While I can see his point, had it been an interactive service, I might’ve asked if that then validates the apocryphal anecdotes told by the right wing—about welfare queens who drive Cadillacs, etc., drug addicts who use welfare to buy meth, or the nonsense spouted on a regular basis by Fox News, or even perhaps hyperbolic stories invented by The Onion, or debunked by Snopes. But, it wasn’t and I wasn’t eager to cause mischief. So, I let it be.

After church, I came “home” and had a roast beef sandwich for lunch, whilst deciding what to do with my last full day in Venice. En route to home, I drove by the public beach in Venice, and toe-tested the water. It was a bit too cool for swimming. Besides, had I decided to swim, I would’ve faced the dilemma of how to safeguard my car keys whilst swimming. I sometimes miss having a solitary waterproof key for my VW Passat, which uses keyless entry.

So, before eating lunch, I took a half hour swim in the house’s pool. Its water temperature was quite a bit warmer than that of the Gulf. After swimming, I ate lunch, and then struck off for Cedar Point Environmental Park, about 20 minutes south of Venice.

I didn’t see a lot of birds there, but the ones I saw were definitely worth seeing. Stay tuned.

The park is mostly pines, palms, and palmettos.

…with the occasional odd cactus.

I don’t know what kind of bird this was. It had some yellow on its back, towards the tail. Maybe some kind of phoebe?

This other bird picture was kind of blurred, unfortunately, but it had yellow on its shoulder.

I also saw a bunch of these tiny crabs, in and out of the water.

Oh, and did I mention I was on the tortoise trail? So, seeing a gopher tortoise wasn’t unexpected.

The geometric pattern on its back looks almost manufactured.

Oh, and on the eagle trail, I saw this.

One chick is kind of in the way of the other. For the most part, the adult was preening, and it was hard to get a classical profile shot. But, patience eventually did pay off.

This one actually looks a bit disheveled. I guess I caught it in mid-preen. Here he or she is… disheveling itself.

I ultimately did get a picture of the two chick heads.

Here’s a picture of the larger of the two chicks, chowing down on something yummy in the aerie.

You might wonder how I managed to get so close to the eagle nest. The answer is a 50x optical lens. I wasn’t at all close—probably a quarter of a mile away. A 50x optical lens works magic.

As I was heading back to the car, I caught a flicker of something greenish. Again, I’ve no idea what kind of bird it was, only that it was very hard to photograph and to pick out of the tree it was in. Excellent camouflage.

I had set my appetite on Italian food for dinner, but couldn’t find an Italian restaurant that was open and wasn’t a sports bar. So, I settled on Stouffer’s chicken parmesan. It was meh. But, better than nothing.

Later tonight, I’ll begin to consolidate my stuff and pack the car for my journey north. Tomorrow night, I’m reserved in Jacksonville, where I hope to visit the state park where my friends Georgia and Eric Pourchot saw a snowy owl a few weeks ago! They were the first ever to report seeing a snowy owl in Florida!

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