WP Blogger extraordinaire Krista asks ~ What is your inspiration? What moves you? What is it that never fails to motivate you, to get you going, or make you happy? See her avant-garde photo here.

My inspiration? Nature. Inspiring. Inspiriting.

Ancient sites. Dizzying heights.

Just plain grand. 

Toni 8/3/15


Beauty is composed of many things and never stands alone. It is so fragile it can be destroyed by a sound or a thought.  It may be infinitesimally small or encompass the universe itself.  It comes in a swift conception wherever nature has not been disturbed.

    -Sigurd Olson

I admire avian architects.

IMG_3243 The fabricator of this nest?  I’m not sure but the nest is blue-chip inside and out, ingeniously built with natural materials. My best guess?  It involves plenty of maternal labor. IMG_3242 It’s perfectly adapted to housing wee eggs and young offspring in safety and comfort. Fixed together with gossamer-like fibers, the young at the bottom of this nest will be enveloped in a mass of feathers. Mouth-gapingly awesome. IMG_3244  

  Toni 5/18/15



I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.

So says the wickedly good writer Anne Tyler.  She’s not gritty, glammy, or trendy, but her voice and view of the world always surprise me. With The Accidental Tourist, Tyler raised the fiction bar.


I’m lucky enough to live in more than one place. And I like to believe that living more than one life is possible. Past lives, simultaneous lives, future lives, it’s all good.

But for now, there are plenty of idyllic easy days in this life. Time to read. Time to wander. Time to be an accidental tourist birder.  Like today.

IMG_3581 IMG_3583


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Surprises in unexpected places, marking another year. (THX, J. ♥)

Well today is your birthday
We’ve traveled so far we two
So let’s blow out the candles on your cake
And we’ll raise a glass or two
And when the sun comes out tomorrow
It’ll be the start of a brand new day
And all that you have wished for I know will come your way

Well surprise, surprise, surprise
Yeah surprise, surprise, surprise
Well surprise, surprise, come on open your eyes




Toni 1/24/15

*This ID-challenged birder has an unreservedly brilliant flock of birding gurus, including blog partner Patty, that comes to my rescue.  THX, Everyone!



The feet of the heron,
under those bamboo stems,
hold the blue body,
the great beak

above the shallows
of the pond.
Who could guess
their patience?

from Many Miles by Mary Oliver


Herons are tear-one’s-heart-out gorgeous.  These two tricoloreds are getting to know each other, hanging out at my pond.

Every day I scan the trees, shrubs, and thickets looking for their nest of sticks.

Tricolored herons are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a state species of special concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule.  But it wasn’t always this way.


Walking the streets of Manhattan in 1886, ornithologist Frank Chapman spotted 40 native species of birds. But the birds weren’t flitting through trees or foraging in the leaf litter.  They had been killed, plucked, disassembled, stuffed, and attached to women’s hats.

3491717849_9b258cd1d0A fashion faux pas today, n’est-ce pas? Please, someone, tell Kate.


During the heyday of the feather trade, the Florida Everglades was a primary US hunting ground. Hunters left behind the skinned carcasses of adults and (gasp) the living young. Those tykes had to fend for themselves and often died of starvation.


Ornithologist T. Gilbert Pearson told tales of the bloody heron and egret slaughter in Florida breeding colonies in an attempt to capture the nation’s attention.

A few miles north of Waldo, our party came upon a little swamp where we had been told Herons bred in numbers. Upon approaching the place the screams of young birds reached our ears. The cause of this soon became apparent by the buzzing of green flies and the heaps of dead Herons festering in the sun, with the back of each bird raw and bleeding… Young Herons had been left by scores in the nests to perish from exposure and starvation.

Reports of these “murderous millinery” atrocities jumpstarted the first Audubon societies.


The first wave of bird hat boycotts was initiated by Audubon Society members, led by Harriet Hemenway, a prominent Boston society woman, and her cousin Minna Hall. (This was one upper-crust boycott. Even Queen Victoria announced she would no longer wear feathers. Hear that, Kate?)


‘Audubonnets’ were born ~ bound-for-the-big-time non-feathered hats and/or ones using only ‘acceptable’ feathers from domestic birds.  My mother had several in her closet that came out on Sunday for church.


Harriet and Minna made huge strides in protecting wild birds. They also had some unexpected help from the fashionistas who latched onto a new hairstyle, the bob. They wore plain slouch hats and cloches, too small to hold extravagant feathery creations.


Displaying feathers was, once again, um, for the birds.

I like birds. So do EELS.

Toni 1/12/15


CIMG4289 A’ Muntagna (“the mountain” in local dialect) dominates the lives of Sicilians who live in Etna’s shadow. CIMG4678 Its lava flows and dust clouds can be disruptive but enrich the soil of the lower slopes and surrounding plains ~ the most fertile regions in Sicily, home to vast expanses of vines, orchards, and olive trees. article-2508808-19766DC200000578-739_964x642 Recent eruptions have been spectacular and safe. Smoking craters and snaking lava flows are visible from the graceful dusky villages built of lava stone. CIMG4293 ‘I judge from my geography’ as the locals and I scramble across rocky lava fields from the 1983 eruption above the town of Randazzo. black-white_photograph_of_emily_dickinson Trekking up Mt. Etna, I imagine a pale and lonely recluse, dressed in white like Dante’s Beatrice, padding about her father’s house in Amherst. Emily Dickinson never traveled to Sicily, yet a volcano rumbles beneath the surface of her poetry.

Volcanoes be in Sicily And South America I judge from my Geography— Volcanos nearer here A Lava step at any time Am I inclined to climb…

Still-volcano-life I picture Emily with her darning-needle in the sunny corner bedroom. She binds her poems into booklets and watches the domestic goings-on of Main Street below.  But in her mind, she travels ~ her “brain is wider than sky”.

I have never seen Volcanoes – But, when Travellers tell How those old – phlegmatic mountains Usually so still – Bear within – appalling Ordnance, Fire, and smoke, and gun, Taking Villages for breakfast….

Still-volcano-life As the poet herself describes it, hers was “A Still— Volcano— life.” She found her Etna, Muncibeddu ~ at home, in Amherst.

A still – Volcano – life That flickered in the night – When it was dark enough to do Without erasing sight – A quiet – Earthquake Style – Too subtle to suspect

Like A’ Muntagna, Emily had a tumultuous inner life. Her manners were staid, her behavior pious. But Etna was inside her, continuously on the boil, a volcano ready to explode with words, some that shocked those around her. article-2508808-1976850D00000578-131_964x606

Though Emily never visited a volcano, she glimpsed the possibilities of a life beyond her curtains.

A bolder life.

A life where lava overflows.

Toni 10/23/14

WWWW loves Emily.  She lurks in our posts and gets plenty of ink. Like in this one, A Readable Feast, poetry with a pinch of Sicily. emilyfoodie