The Beauty and Serenity are still there

I read a lot of news each week. A lot. And a huge chunk of the news I consume is — as you might imagine — about Nature, outdoor fun and our environment.

One story about our National Parks broke this week and I have to say it was nothing like most of the ones I routinely read. It was shocking. It was sad. And it took place here in South Florida, in the State where I live, work and play.

A couple visiting Everglades National Park were in the middle of an explosive domestic fight that resulted in a call being made to Park Rangers. When Rangers responded, the husband jumped into his car and sped away.

The Rangers and elements of the Miami-Dade PD who had also been called soon realized that the agitated park-goer, Drew Sikes, was armed with an AK-47 and did not want to end up in the back of a patrol car.

Mr. Sikes ditched his vehicle and ran into the woods. He did surrender about an hour and a half after fleeing into the bowels of the Park but not before firing multiple rounds in the direction of the Rangers and Officers who were working on getting him out of the woods and into custody.

In the end, no one was seriously harmed. Not physically. My heart goes out to the spouse who had to endure the abuse, embarrassment and humiliation that inevitably come in the wake of domestic violence.

The feelings and reactions of those who were present in the Park that day — or those of us who merely read or heard the story later — are of no great importance compared to her’s, the object of the offender’s unchecked rage.

But as far as recounting my own personal reaction to this sad story, I will say that it came as a bit of a shock. In the hundreds of times I’ve gone to a park or other green, natural space to enjoy the wonders of Nature, I would never have imagined that such a scene could erupt.

When I reflect on that, my reaction seems more than a little naive. Domestic violence — like any of life’s thousands of tragedies — can and will erupt at any time and in any setting.

Yes, even in a place where I — and many millions of us — go regularly to escape the drudgery, mundanity or tragedy we experience all too often in our day-to-day lives.

Even so, we can be sure that there is much beauty, serenity and healing to be found in the Natural World when we open ourselves to it, when we seek it out.

May you seek it out. And may you find it.

Your Nature loving fellow-seeker, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile 

Edgar McGregor is the Real Deal

If you’ve spent any amount of time checking out this blog, you know what a hard-core tree hugger I am. Among family and friends, I’m notorious for diverting from a trail or a walkway in a park to pick up litter and debris. 

I’ve always known I’m not the only overly-responsible Nature Lover who does such things. And I just read an article about one such person who’s gone way above and beyond the call of duty.

That young man is Edgar McGregor and his commitment to coming to the Planet’s aid when thoughtless or malevolent humans sully and pollute her is truly inspiring.

For 589 days, Edgar ranged all over the Eaton Canyon Trail, one of the most popular hiking spots near Los Angeles, picking up litter, trash and debris of all kinds in order to atone for the sins of his fellow humans and get the canyon as clean as is humanly possible. 

And finally, the day came when he walked the park and couldn’t find anything to bag up and carry away.

Reading of Edgar’s untiring effort has inspired me. I can hardly tell you how much. Suffice to say, he and I are cut from the same cloth, but his efforts have, of course, easily out-stripped mine. I commend him for his nearly-superhuman work and devotion to Mother Earth.

If you’d like to read more about the Eaton Canyon Trail or what this indefatigable eco warrior did on its behalf, I’m happy to help!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile 

Photo credit Sarah Naccarato

Happy St Patty’s day to ya!

Yes, today’s the day! I do have more than a wee bit o’ Irish in me. From Mom’s side. And I’ve always loved St Patrick’s Day when it comes around each year.

I’m not too inclined to hang out in pubs these days. For a couple of reasons, as you might imagine.

So I think we’re going to skip the whole green beer thing.

Now the Corned Beef & Cabbage part of the celebration! Yeah, we’re all over that!

I hope it’s an awesome day for you, whether you’re Irish or not! Irish-ish?

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit

Black Cat Boss

I don’t know this ebony cat’s name but I do know he’s the Top Cat at Gemini Springs Park.

This not-so-well-known park is beautiful. You can find it in Volusia County, just inside the town limits of Debary. That’s about 20 minutes or so north of the Orlando metro area.

There’s a lot more I’d like to tell you about this fine park. We camped there for two nights back in November. It was a delightful stay; we bathed in exquisite moonlight, slept outside and loved every moment of it.

But I’m not going to tell you any more about the park right now except to say that that handsome, magnificent feline — whose name shall never be spoken aloud in this space — is the mysterious entity in complete control at Gemini Springs Park.

And if he deign to permit us a follow-up frolic in his gorgeous domain this spring, we’ll be heading up I-4 again, packed with tents, stoves, firewood and cat treats.

A confirmed lover of camping & cats, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

It’s National Napping Day

It certainly is National Napping Day and this is the perfect time for me to remind you of the benefits of napping. And to promote it as enthusiastically as I can.

It’s something I engage in. Quite a bit. And I recommend this salutary and beneficial practice to one and all.

So what are you waiting for? Power down that infernal, serenity-stealing device right now, throw yourself prostrate on the nearest couch and celebrate today’s auspicious day the way you were meant to!

You’re welcome!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit The Indian Express

A Visit to Bok Tower Gardens

Joan and I had the pleasure of visiting Bok Tower Gardens a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. And I did get a slew of photos. I’ll be able to get a handful of them into this posting.

The gardens at Bok Tower Gardens are truly extraordinary. I won’t be featuring any photos of the actual tower at Bok Tower Gardens here; that will have to wait for me to break some time free for another photo editing session. But the gardens — taken just by themselves — are quite extensive and stunningly beautiful. This path leads to… well, it leads to more of the gardens, of course.

Near the foot of the tower is a reflecting pool that is a fine focal point for folks like me carrying a camera around. I took many here from different vantage points and will, no doubt, be featuring more of those in the near future. The one below is my favorite from among the 20 or so pictures that I took of the pool and the beautiful scenes all around it.

There are spots within the gardens where your eyes just might play tricks on you. In the photo below, it can seem as though the area around this modestly-sized pool is a part of a much larger tableau. And though it’s not a puny scene by any means, it seems as I look at it now to be only a small part of a scene along a free-flowing river that meanders through the beautiful, bucolic countryside for many miles.

The founder of Bok Tower Gardens is Edward W. Bok, an author and editor who became wealthy in the early 20th Century in the publishing business. He wrote a couple of books of note and was well-known in his time as an intellectual and a lover of the outdoors and of the beauties of Nature. He had a saying and visitors at the famed gardens that bear his name can read it in several places within the bounds of those lovely spaces which have served well as the theme for today’s post.

We enjoyed our visit to Bok Tower Gardens earlier this month. Enjoyed it immensely. And we most certainly will be going back in the near future. Just as soon as we’re anywhere near Lake Wales. If you’re interested in making a visit of your own, you can find the appropriate info right here. If you’d like to learn a bit about the history of the gardens in particular, this page would be a good place to start.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

Not Littering but Environmental Crime

I came across a story on Wednesday about a Florida man who had just been arrested for the crime of littering. Felony littering, that is. Our Department of Environmental Protection was on the case.

As with any crime, any bad act, sometimes the offender is merely dipping his toe in the water, so to speak. But sometimes they’re way out in that beautiful, deep, blue sea, swimming with the sharks.

That’s a better metaphor to use in trying to describe the seriousness of this miscreant’s very, very serious act of littering. All he did was dump ten 250 gal drums of liquid polymers and paint onto someone else’s private land.

So no, it’s not quite like the low-life who pitches his full, greasy Wendy’s bag out of the driver’s side window while cruising down the freeway. No, this unnamed environmental disaster on two legs needed a rental truck and a forklift — and multiple trips — to carry off this Lollapalooza of Litter!

Hearing about crimes like this can leave me so angry and frustrated that I hardly know what to do. In this case, it’s a powerful consolation that Florida’s DEP has the necessary tools to hold accountable the criminals who commit such outrages.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Yes, anyone arrested and/or charged with crimes is innocent until proven guilty.

The banner photo is from another incident and is — I’m pretty sure — covered by Fair Use.

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Oh, no! It finally happened!

I can’t believe it! I’ve been dreading this for years and now, and here we are…

I could barely make myself get out of bed this morning. Because I knew.

National Pizza Day and Taco Tuesday have finally fallen on the same day! I have no idea what we’re gonna do when dinnertime comes around tonight.

Please, for God’s sake, someone get into the comments and tell me what to do…

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

The Environmental File: another troubling sign

Climate scientists are doing great work, trying to get ahead of some of the many problems we’re facing as the damage we’ve done to the Earth becomes more and more apparent.

The way rainfall is distributed around our planet is changing. And, as you might imagine, those changes will become more pronounced going forward.

It’s a bleak situation and the effects are being felt over large portions of the Earth.

The good news — if there is any — is that we have climate scientists who have their eyes on this, and so many other urgent issues arising out of our collective failure to care for our Planet. 

The bad news is that there are still many citizens — and governments, sad to say — who don’t believe any of this is real. Or that it is caused by from human activity.

To have a look at a CBS News article from last week that shines a light on this bleak situation, just follow this link.

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Ben is not the owner of the banner photo and believes it to be covered by Fair Use.

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Today is National Bird Day

It surely is and so I’m offering my favorite bird photo of the last ten years. I took the banner photo back in 2016 at Trimble Park in Orange County, Florida. It was a keeper and I’ve featured it before. A long time ago, I hasten to add.

And in 2012 my camera caught Peter Pelican at an opportune moment. I don’t think he was too eager to have his picture taken; he was flying away at warp speed, in fact.

But I got him! This was at Cocoa Beach on a cloudy October afternoon just eight years ago. My, the time passes so quickly…

Enjoy the beauty and majesty of nature. If a part of the beauty you take in today includes some choice winged and feathered specimens, it would be so appropriate.

Not that you can’t the other 364 days of the year!

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

© 2021 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile