Tag Archives: lessons from nature

The Crashing Ocean, and the Unfazed House Upon the Rock, SLR/IRL

John Whitcar, of the famed local Whiticar Boat Works family,  has been a longtime family friend, and I have featured his incredible photography before. Today’s shared photos were taken on March 5th.

He describes today’s photos below:

House of Refuge Huge Waves
Monday, March 5, 2018 / Stuart Florida, USA
11 ft. waves coming in from North Easter off of New England.
Very little wind / High Tide / ~11:00 am

The story of the House of Refuge is an amazing one, being the last of its kind, Old-Florida pine construction, having endured multiple hurricanes and other forces of time and nature, and still standing since 1876.

“US government houses of refuge were constructed to assist shipwreck survivors and were unique to the east coast of Florida. Ten were constructed between 1876 and 1886, but only but Martin County’s Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge survives.” ~Historian Sandra Thurlow

The moral of the story?

Build your house upon a rock. ~Including the Anastasia Formation, preferably.


Thank you John for sharing your wonderful photos of Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge including its mascots the Blue Angels of Nature, our brown pelicans!

*House of Refuge web site: (http://houseofrefugefl.org/house-of-refuge-museum-at-gilberts-bar/)

Toxic Beauty, SLR/IRL

Growing up in Stuart in the 1970s, my mother and father gave me full reign to explore the undeveloped lands in the area of St Lucie Estates. I remember endless summers, wandering around in “the woods” and of course my eyes were drawn to the vine of the widely dispersed, perfectly shaped, red and black seeds known as rosary peas.

I would collect them tightly in my little, sweaty hands, pushing them far down into my pockets. I recall the first time I brought them home, my mother said, “Yes, they are very pretty, but don’t eat them, they are poisonous.”

“Hmmm,”I thought. “How can something beautiful be poisonous?”

I continued to collect the seeds, and over the years filled up many clear glass bottles that sat in my window sill; the sun never fading their brilliant color.

Later in life, I learned that bright color patterns, especially red, black, and yellow, as with some caterpillars, or the famous, shy, and deadly coral snake, are “warnings” in nature and actually provide the animal with protection from being eaten.

As I walk through Hawk’s Bluff today, I am thankful to my parents who allowed me to explore the natural world and grow confident, unafraid, even with all of its toxic beauty.


Rosary pea, known many other names: https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/abrus-precatorius/

Colors in Nature: http://flnps.org/color-nature

Spiny-backed Orbweaver Spiders, Their Marvelous Webs and Their Lessons, Indian River Lagoon

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
—Chief Seattle, Duwanish Tribe, Washington

spiny orb spider
Spiny-backed orbweaver spider. (Public photo)

As I have mentioned before, living close the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, I look to nature for inspiration and this year inspiration has surrounded my house in the form of tiny spiny-backed orbweaver spiders. My husband and I have seen these very small spiders, half the size of a dime, throw a connecting web to their interior design at least  twenty feet if not more. It is absolutely remarkable, seemingly impossible, that these little creatures can do this.

Although you can't see it, the spiny orb spiker has a across the trees in the front of our house. From one side to another at least 15 feet.
Although you can’t see it, the spiny-backed  orb weaver spider has a web across the trees in the front of our house. From one side to another between the trees is at least 15 feet. (Photo JTL)

Their beautiful webs blow in the wind reflecting sunshine like baskets catching insects. From what I have read, it is the female that makes the web and though I have never seen one, the smaller male is somewhere hanging on a single thread beside her.

Web in our yard...
Web in our yard…(Photo JTL)
Inner web up close… (Public photo)

I learn a lot watching these little spider. First of all, that “you can do something seemly impossible”–it’s in you—. Second, I often see their webs which must have taken hours to weave get destroyed by birds, rain, wind or even me accidentally running into them–they just “quickly crawl back up and start right over again”…This is a good life lesson.

I have also learned that butterflies must be able to see spider webs as I have watched the many in my yard purposefully navigate away from them. Pretty cool.

In fact, I think that after the many months of the spiny-backed orbweaver spiders living in Ed’s and my yard, (much more so since we took out the grass and stopped using fertilizer and sprayed pesticides) they are learning to adapt to where we walk. I swear they now build their webs right in front of our walkways and doors but leave a large open space for us to walk though!

red, black and white
Its colors are red, black and white. (Public photo)

They do not bite and are they not aggressive…..like all of God’s creatures, they are my friends, and I learn from them.

…My mother used to sometimes say: “The webs we weave……”

Seeing the little hard-working spiders each day makes me mindful that, yes, we are all connected, and that I choose where and how to build my web.


US IFAS Spiny-backed Orb Weaver Spider Florida: (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/g_cancriformis.htm