Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


Off the Beaten Path painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Off the Beaten Path, Jo-Ann Sanborn, 2011
acrylic on canvas, 16"x20"

It's always delightful to see our landscape anew through the eyes of our visitors.  Most are enchanted by our sunny skies and closeness to nature.  A group of bottle nose Dolphins with perfect timing visited our canal and put on a terrific feeding show just as my sister stepped out to the dock.  One with a large fish in it's mouth surfaced only feet away.  Time was short, but we visited Otter Mound and saw the gopher tortoises  and those cute little peanut shaped burrowing owls, two rare species that populate our sandy soil.  

We spent an afternoon walking (can't really call it a hike) in the Everglades, this time the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.  Very close to Marco, the new Marsh Trail which I've written about before, makes a wonderful short trip.  A woodpecker greeted us from a tree along the trail.  A great blue heron flew right above our heads with a whoosh of wings, and we saw a great white heron with a nest nearly hidden among the verdant grasses.  

Installed binoculars on the viewing platform allowed us to watch the many and varied wading birds catching fish as if we were right there with them. 
Because we've had recent rains, the water level is still pretty high.  A small alligator basked on the edge of a fish-filled pool, and another rose and fell almost effortlessly in a deeper pool.  Small colorful butterflies accompanied us in the warm sunshine.  An osprey flew above a small pond rich with fish and swooped down to carry one off to the nest. 

The woodpecker cause great discussion later in the evening as some of our party insisted it was a Hairy Woodpecker and some the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.  The birds are quite similar in size and coloration, and since both could be in South Florida at this time, and no one had a decent photo of the bird, no amount of research proved definative and the issue remain unsolved. 

Taking a break from painting for a couple of days now and then is restorative.  Deep breaths and delight in our natural environment are good for the soul.  I recommend getting out there soon. I'll have some new brochures in the studio if you need a map! 

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