Tuesday, February 14

Nature Loving while Suburbia Living

'They like each other. #quail
Moving our family of ten 1600 miles to the south included a move out of the sleepy country and into a quiet side of a larger city.  Our country kids were suddenly suburbanites and the adjustment was difficult, still is in many regards.  Our much smaller but no-mortgage home here sits on just 1/3 of an acre, with a large screened in pool area taking up much of the back yard.
Wagons of goodness for our little yard. Lemongrass, kaffir lime, mangos, dragonfruit, cranberryy hibiscus, New Zealand spinach, garlic chives, bananas, avocado, blueberries, loquat and cassava. #tropicalgardening

Don't feel sorry for us just yet though; we love where we live and the smaller green space comes with a much, much longer and more generous growing season.

A few weeks into the move we picked up a van full from Echo Nurseries. We LOVE the mission behind what they do and the nursery sales people are incredibly knowledgeable about the plants that they sell.
A morning of digging and everything is growing so well: bananas, mangoes, avocados, jackfruit, sweet apple, fig, limes, tangelos, lemons, blueberries, cranberry hibiscus, garlic chives, lemongrass and a bunch more I'm forgetting off hand but even after all this planting, our little place still has a LOT more room for potential! I answered a craigslist ad and the woman convinced me of the wonders of owning quail.  Fifteen of them are cooing on our back lanai now under a heat lamp.
We went for a hike today in the state forest that our little neighborhood borders and forests down here sure look different than up north. More jungle-chic.
Another thing we appreciate about this spot in Florida is that our little neighborhood backs up to a huge state forest.  Hiking just means jungle scenery now instead of deciduous forests.  The forest is so incredibly peaceful and we've enjoyed watching gators from a distance, seeing all the new animal tracks and some familiar ones.
One side of our property edges over a deep ditch that is full of water year round, what up north we'd call a creek, and as we were clearing and cutting trees one day, I noticed the triangular formation of a few of them. 

"Tree platform?" I proposed to Sean, who liked the idea and now we're nearly done with a spot in the trees and under the palms for our children.  We're planning on adding to the railings, installing a permanent ladder, rope ladder, pulley system and I'm scouring craigslist for a slide, because how cool would that be?
We knocked out most of our nature highrise this afternoon. A better ladder and some lattice, a rope swing and pulley...and does anyone know where I can get a nine and a half foot slide?
Here too, is the Gulf of Mexico, just ten minutes away.  We usually go once or twice a week, usually early in the day or before sunset, to avoid the seasonal crowds.  There, nature is everywhere and seeing my kids immersed in it, fills my heart.  A manatee swam by our older boys while they were snorkeling, dolphins are frequently spotted and collecting fossilized shark teeth is a favorite pastime of seven year old Chase.
Salty braids.

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing." "The Lord will fight for you; you need only stand and be still." "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

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