Things To Do

Sailing School: Captiva Island Yacht Club

My sons, 15 and 13 are spending two weeks in sailing school at Captiva Island Yacht Club. I cannot say enough good things about this program. It is open to the public and there are several sessions throughout the summer. Our boys are in the beginner session. The kids are there from 8:30-4:00 for ten days. The program has small class sizes, is very well organized, and Lauren, the director of the program stays in close touch- sending photos and emails to let us know how the boys are doing. When the wind dies, they kayak. When it rains, there are classroom activities and instruction. I believe there are even some scholarships available for kids! The photos here were sent to me by Lauren- thank you for helping our boys develop skills they will carry with them for a lifetime!

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Connect With Natural and Wild Florida

If you love natural and wild Florida make that connection, no matter where you are in the world, through the photography and thoughts of Mark Renz

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Forget career, riches and fame
Give me a lowly position
as a single soft strand of broom sedge
growing next to an island of palms
where I can spend a lifetime
experiencing the sun
as it rises
in the wilderness
again
and again
and again
If not a sedge
then the next best thing
a lowly human
with the desire to live simply
and witness the wild
with all my human senses
to hear the silence
taste the dew
and feel that vast yellow ball
as it begins to bathe me
and welcome me to the morning
This is the gift of life 
that I will embrace
until my final sunset
And if it’s not an imposition
to the living
Do you think you could scatter
my ashes 
in the broom sedge grasses
facing an island of cabbage palms
where I can continue
to know what it’s like
to really live?

   -Mark Renz

   fossilx@earthlink.net
   fossilexpeditions.com
(239)368-3252
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Foraging with Green Deane

Took a stroll with “Green Deane” in Port Charlotte a few weekends ago. Spent a few hours walking through Bayshore Live Oak Park and the surrounding neighborhood, checking out what Florida natives and non-natives were growing- identifying edibles and non edibles. For anyone interested in gardening with edibles and/or foraging, I highly recommend Deane’s classes, blog “Eat The Weeds” and videos.

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Green Deane discussing attributes of Epazote, Chenopodium ambrosioides. Available year round in Florida. Leaves, flowers and unripe fruits are edible and used in soups and salads. The most common usage is, however, in bean dishes, for it’s strong anti-flatulent powers. To me this plant smells like bug spray.

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Hydrocotyle bonariensis, better known as Pennywort, or dollar weed. Can eat raw or cooked. Has medicinal value.

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Cladium jamaicense, Sawgrass Edible Inner bottom white core of stalk, raw or cooked. WARNING- cuts flesh easily. Use to find fishing worms and fresh spring water.

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Green Dean talking about Sea Purslane, Sesuvium portulacastrum, edible raw, cooked or pickled. Available year round.

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Abrus precatorius, Rosary pea- TOXIC reported to be the most toxic seed in the world. Avoid, as contact with an open seed can cause death.

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Bidens Alba, Spanish needles or beggar tick. Edible raw or cooked. Parts used to make tea, fermented for wine.

I usually approach life from a positive perspective, but because I have chewed on my fair share of ‘unknown’ plants, main thing I learned from my first foraging class with Green Deane is- DON’T field test plants-EVER! Verify, verify, verify what you are sticking in your mouth. There are a multitude of plants out there with edible and/or medicinal properties. There are others that can kill you or make you very, very sick. Some plants make you sick right away, others take days or weeks to make you ill. Others have a cumulative effect. There are plants that are perfectly edible when cooked, but make you sick if eaten raw; and others that have both poisonous and edible parts. Some fruits are edible when ripe, but make you sick when eaten before they are ripe. Not all plants in the same genus or family are edible- There are some edible Jasmines, but make sure you know which ones! All of this aside- I am astonished at how many ‘weeds’ growing in my backyard are edible or usable in some fashion. I recommend Green Deane’s  Eat The Weeds as one reliable resource for learning about the many native and non-native edibles growing in your area. Had a great time participating in this class, and I see myself signing up for more classes in the future!

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Sunset Walk and Family Photos

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Thanks Milissa for letting me grab one of your beautiful family photographs! Just so you know, if you come to Sanibel and want a great family or wedding photograph, Milissa Spreacher Photography is based on Sanibel/Captiva and she is so creative- great with kids and groups! I will be making an appointment with her in the near future for my own silly family!

Jacob (my 15yr old) grabbed my phone and did take a couple of very nice photos-

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Taste of Lee Fruit Festival

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Taste of Lee Links

Taste of Lee

IFAS Extension Office Calendar

 

 

 

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Kayaking Commodore Creek in Tarpon Bay

              

Had fun out on Tarpon Bay today. Put in at Tarpon Bay Explorers and paddled Commodore Creek. It’s an easy trail for the kids; with loads to see and learn.

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Fossil Hunting on the Peace River with Mark Renz

I first heard of Mark Renz through a fellow rock hound, who invited me to hear him speak at a Rotary Club meeting in Ft. Myers. Having recently moved to the area, my sons were enjoying their holiday break from school, and were not enthusiastic about spending their time at a lecture. Mark’s passion and enthusiasm for paleontology, nature and life, shined through his every word. The boys wanted to learn more about fossils in the area, so we decided to take a guided trip with Mark on the Peace River, in search of fossils.

I cannot say enough how much we enjoyed our time with Mark. His conversational approach to teaching allowed the boys to have fun while learning, and wow, we learned a lot! Not only did we learn how to search for fossils and identify our finds, but Mark painted a picture for us about what the area might have looked like over the past few million years, and how the animals whose bones we held, might have ended up where we found them. Our day was also filled with laughter- Mark is a funny guy! Darwin, one of his cattle dogs also came along for the ride. He was calmly reserved, well-trained and mannered fellow.

                                                                                                                                                           

Spending several hours on a dig was great for the grown-ups, but when the boy’s attentions waned, Mark gently guided them to explore the area in ways that kept them safe and engaged. He is one of those gifted and rare people who truly seems to enjoy sharing his considerable knowledge and ideas. I asked the boys to help me think of words to describe Mark- here is some of what we came up with- Smart, funny, tall, inspired, adventurous, kind.

Mark and Darwin

Unfortunately, my little camera took a dip in the Peace River on this trip, so not too much to share in the way of photos, the few here are from our iphones..

Thank you Mark for sharing with us your passion and knowledge and for inspiring us to see and do and learn! You can reach Mark and Marisa Renz through their web site Fossil Expeditions

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Here are some of our finds-

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Dugong rib fragment, Juvenile megalodon fragment, barnacle

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Puffer fish mouth fragment, Whale inner ear bone, Turtle shell fragment, sting ray grinding plate fragment

fossil shark teeth

Possible fossil alligator tooth

worm tube, coral and turtle carapace fragments

Possible shoulder bone

Deer antler fragment

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