Monday, November 2, 2009

bird of paradise, a rare sighting in punta gorda florida

Punta Gorda, Florida. South Florida, an hour and half south of St Petersburg. Punta Gorda translates roughly to "Fat End". Punta Gorda is mainly a retirement community and with miles of swamp buggy terrain.

Renee and I hid out here in Fat End for two days looking for a friend. We resided in a Motel 6 hosting a swamp buggy convention. Rows and rows of perfectly waxed American made pickup trucks parked in the backed-in position met us at room 136. We ducked into the room under the constant and confused glare of Swamp Buggy Driver hubris. Were we the Lynard Skynard cover band scheduled to perform later that evening across the street in the Pilot Truck Stop parking lot? After a few trips to/from Volvo to 136, with accordion, ukulele and virtually no luggage, hubris gave return to the natural state of dull interest?

Renee and I explored swamps trails and Wal-marts in the area. We observed a bobcat feasting on something one evening on the shoulder of Burnt Store Road. We consistently skipped Indian Springs Cemetery Road opting for Fat End road that led us to an exotic Punta Gorda Wal-Mart... This is where Renee and I began our search for the indigenous and rare bird of paradise known as the Great Long Hair South Florida Mullet.

Aisle after aisle, minute after minute, we observed what we have come to expect: children beaten by red-faced mothers, teenagers with creed t-shirts running unaccompanied through the aisles throwing objects at display stands, old people in daisy duke cut off shorts, and over friendly retirees greeting us repeatedly as we entered and exited.

We had given up our hunt for the Great Long Hair South Florida Mullet, and were sharing a bag of potato wedges. We were chatting, listening to the news on the radio, when a perfectly polished pick-up truck pulled into the space in front of the Volvo... out stepped a brilliant mulleted south florida bird of paradise. With held breath and contagious giggles we crept back into Wal-Mart with renewed vigor for our search.

The bird was finally sited after many hours in the hardware section:

These pictures are grainy, but are clearly evidence that the elusive, rarely sighted and never before photographed Great Long Hair South Florida Mullet does exist.

Renee after the hunt!

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