South Florida’s Urban Wildlife

Manatee visiting the Keys home of good friends Lloyd & Rae.

I love Miami. The diversity here is what makes it such a wonderful place to live, with interesting people from all over the world, an endless array of activities, and of, course, the incredible weather we have. Well, at least the weather from Nov – May!

Miami benefits tremendously from its geography and for that same reason, is a wildlife haven. I can walk out my door in the Coral Gables neighborhood of Miami-Dade and see crocodiles, manatees, and a variety of birds befitting a zoological aviary.

Recently I decided to do a bit of a deeper dive into what was indigenous versus native and wrote about it for Coral Gables Magazine. The article would not have been possible without the incredible photography by my good friend and neighbor Don Elliott and his amazing captures of birds in action. Don also took the closeup of the croc that is my featured photo for this post. Just going through all his photos was a treat.

I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I did writing it: Wildlife in the UrbanTropics.

If you want to be reminded about why this country is so great – scars, foibles, protests, societal inequity, racism, and all – pay a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. New and updated exhibits have done an excellent job of inclusion and haven’t shied away from the darkest segments of our history. Admission is free.

Not to say we are done growing as a nation, we still have much room to improve. But this museum puts our history in context and you can clearly chart positive change. As the Smithsonian PR materials explain this museum, “It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.” It makes me feel proud to be an American.

The new exhibit, “Entertainment Nation” is just what it says – a comprehensive look at how we have entertained ourselves through the decades and how that entertainment shaped our national conversation. I loved seeing Dorothy’s red slippers (a long-popular Smithsonian offering), the famous directional sign pole from the MASH TV series, the incorrigible Star Wars duo C-3PO and R2-D2, as well as the well-worn chairs used by Archie and Edith in All in the Family. Located in the new Culture Wing, the 7,200-square-foot gallery will feature rotating exhibits.

Our Millennium-aged daughter was looking at the science portion of the exhibit with pics and info about Bill Nye The Science Guy when she looked up and did a double-take. Bill Nye told her, “It’s me, I’m not dead yet!” She laughed and exchanged a few words, then he wandered over to his exhibit where he was promptly mobbed.

Anyone who knows my husband knows the trains in the transportation exhibit were a highlight. It was interesting for us the see the significance of the terminal in Salisbury, NC, where the wonderful NC Transportation Museum is based (technically in Spencer, NC); another place definitely worth a visit.

It was so interesting to see the original Star Spangled Banner. Here we are outside the exhibit (no photos allowed inside).

While walking to the museum, we chatted with a security guard, who told us his job was up in the clock tower at the Waldorf (see below), which he explained has wonderful views of the District. It’s a good tip and we will be sure to check it out in the near future.

Merry Xmas from Miami

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Even though we have headed to the frigid north to be with family for the holidays, I’d like to share a look at how we celebrate in our tropical hometown. Miami is beautiful this time of year and there is a lot going on besides Art Basel in early December. Locals make sure to visit the Night Garden at Fairchild Botanical Gardens, hang out in Coconut Grove, grab a meal at a sidewalk cafe, tour historic homes with The Villagers, see Santa at Coral Gables Merrick House, or stop off for some Bayside refreshments. Holiday parties extend to balconies and backyards, and convertibles ferry local dignitaries through festive parades.

And, of course, spreading the joy – taking gifts to kids is an essential part of the holidays.

Miami is getting a bit of a chilly blast this year (the 50s), just in time for Christmas. In the meantime, we’ve had a burst of snow in the DC area and are ready for dropping temps and wind.

Whatever you celebrate – stay healthy, warm, and safe. Happy Holidays!

Adding to our tree ornament collection from around the world, Iceland.

Kicking off the holidays with Thanksgiving here in the US is always a time for reflection. Taking stock of the positive forces in our lives and focusing on the good. I have much to be grateful for, including living in such beautiful and interesting places.

“Miami” is well known and most often used to describe our area, but it really defines a composite of wonderful and culturally diverse neighborhoods. For most of the year, mine is beautiful, historic Coral Gables.

Sometimes we have to just look around our own neighborhoods to find hidden treasures. To me, some of the most fascinating are places we pass every day and just don’t give a second thought. It can be hard to slow down, take a breath, and see your surroundings with fresh eyes. With that thought in mind, I shared a few overlooked “sights” in a recent article published in Coral Gables Magazine. For my local readers who may have missed it, I hope it helps you find History Hidden in Plain “Site.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

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