Stinson Park: A Public Gathering

I couldn’t imagine the bravery of the Ancient Greeks that took public baths together, fortunately for Geese, it’s like sitting down to a Sunday dinner.

Stinson Park, a tiny park located in Jacksonville, Florida, provides many uses to its visitors. The park may appear to be only a regular backyard in width, there is much to do. Benches are scattered along the winding loop trail for readers and lovers to spend time alone. A couple of picnic tables there have been used for parties, a group of painters painting the river landscape, and teenager,s sitting together enjoying each other’s company. A short dock stretches out over the water used for boat launching and fishing. A large playground located at the heart of the park for children to run and play. Every day this park is used to its fullest extent.

On this particular day, though, the park belonged to a flock of geese who wanted nothing more than to bathe, eat, and relax together.

IMG_3223

IMG_3227

The high tide was in which accounts for one of Stinson Park’s downfalls. Stinson Park lacks a seawall to keep the water from overflowing, so when the tide comes in, or during Hurricane Season, the grassy area becomes a mud bath. The geese love it.

I wasn’t expecting the geese when I visited the park so early in the day. I just wanted to beat the crowds of parents and children, so I went while everyone was at work and in school. The greyish sky and the misty rain helped keep visitors away. I was about the only car in the fifteen-car parking lot. I whipped out my headphones to listen to some ambient instrumental songs to help me brainstorm for more writing. When I spotted the large family of geese, my phone became my Nikon.

IMG_3228IMG_3240IMG_3250

I crept along the winding sidewalk to get closer. Of course, the geese saw me coming a mile away. I’m guessing the largest one of the flock, the leader, made sure he kept his eye on me. He’d take a step and then halt. I made sure to keep my distance. Geese can be unpredictable, and they aren’t afraid to fight. There were no chicks among the flock, so at least I didn’t have to worry about their paranoid high security. The flock continued on splashing, flapping their wings and diving their heads beneath the water to nip at grass. I burned my battery up, trying to get the perfect photo whenever one flapped their wings. Just to be there, period was enough excitement for me.

IMG_3245IMG_3252

After a few more splashes, half the group waddled out of the water and onto the grass. Feeding time. Together they each vacuumed up grass blades. Their long necks jiggled and arched as they fed on the grass seeds. They even stopped watching me watch them, though I know at least one of them kept an eye out just in case I did anything stupid. More importantly, they were at peace. No one was at the park, the temperature was perfect, and the water was high enough for them to stand on the edge and enjoy a bath, together. It was a public gathering of peace and serenity. I’d say there’s a lesson we probably should take back to our own families.

Flying Solo and Happy

A lot of animals in nature hunt, travel and live in packs, flocks, herds, or schools. Usually, this a wonder that is meant for your DSLR camera, but I think to see an independent animal is fantastic. It’s almost symbolic of true independence. You leave the nest, and the rest of your life is dependant on you and your choices. Freedom.

I didn’t realize this until I visited Mandarin Park (for the umpteenth time) and I sat on a bench and watched a large white bird (still unsure of the name) take his precious time strolling along the bank of the pond. Naturally, I couldn’t tell his emotions as he may not have any, but he appeared so content with life. Not a worry in the world. He gazed at the semi-clear water and moved on. How nice it must be? His only concern in his world is predators and hunters. Besides that, he had all the time in the world to be… just him.

DSCN0354

I followed him as he continued to go around the pond. He was very cautious of my presence, but he kept on. His twig-like legs tiptoed through the grass. Every now and then he bent his body over and shoved his long beak into the soil to peck at whatever he caught sight of to nibble on. I admired his grace, his lightness.

He was the wonder to me. I thought of him long after I had gotten home. He never meant to set that example or become the symbol of absolute freedom and independence. He simply lived and became everything I wanted. On the ride home, I couldn’t help but wonder how could I distance myself from the things that feel like shackles. I want less worry, fewer clusters, less confinement. I want freedom. His freedom.

Watch Them Fly

It has felt like forever since I’ve had a chance to just get in my car and drive far away from home and involve myself into something else. I figured since the high of today was going to be sixty-three degrees, many people weren’t going to be out much doing anything (Floridians, right?). I decided to take my fave scenic road, Heckschere Drive all the way up to Fernandina Beach.

Once I got to Fernandina, I figured I’d go ahead and go to the beach. I know I was going to freeze to death because I had on the wrong jacket. It was more of a sweater with a hoodie. Air could pass straight through it. Fernandina was fifty-four minutes North of Jacksonville and that made a hell of a difference in temperature. It was 63 in Jacksonville, 55 in Fernandina. I stood on the empty beach to get some shots of Sea Gulls taking advantage of the low tide.

DSCN2111

DSCN2113

DSCN2116

DSCN2117

DSCN2118

DSCN2119

DSCN2122

DSCN2123

DSCN2124

DSCN2125

DSCN2126

DSCN2129

DSCN2130

DSCN2131

DSCN2132

DSCN2134

DSCN2135

DSCN2136

DSCN2137

DSCN2138

DSCN2139

DSCN2142

DSCN2143

DSCN2148

DSCN2150

DSCN2151

DSCN2154

DSCN2156

DSCN2159

DSCN2160

DSCN2163

DSCN2164