Surf walking for exercise in the Florida Keys, I missed the opportunity to snap “piggy-backing” crabs as I’d left my camera behind. Mr. Crab, in six inches of water, reared up on his hind legs, claws thrust aggressively at me, while another set of legs clamped Mrs. to his undercarriage. He must have been all of four inches across to my five-and-a-half feet, but he was ready to take me on to defend his wife. While I was deciding whether to laugh or back off, he took the initiative and scuttled away, still in position with Mrs., possibly to get it on with her under cover of the sea grasses.
The camp site at Long Key afforded many of these marine life views as the ocean bottom sloped off so shallowly. Other people waded out several hundred yards to waist depth but I would only go to a depth where I could still see my feet clearly. Stepping on something bitey or squishy or stubbing my toe on a rock or coral is not my idea of fun. And why bother when I could amuse myself for hours in shin deep water?
I would pass the same people each day and smile and wave, or stop to chat. As I passed a mangrove tree I was called back to it with, “Did you see the frog?” A frankly artificial looking frog was sunning himself on a limb. “I’ve seen you with your camera. I thought you might like to take his picture.” Indeed I would. Not until I looked at the picture on the computer screen days later did I notice that the tiny frog, perhaps an inch and a half long, was wearing weeny “black rubber gloves.”
Moments after the rubber-clad frog encounter, I turned to see a snipe in stealthy pursuit of lunch. Wading slowly through the shallow water, he would plunge his head in, come up and Gulp! What was it? Too quick for me. I snap, snap, snapped with little hope of getting a decent shot as I was shooting into the sun but with the potential to take hundreds of photos and the delete function to get rid of my duds I carried on. What I caught was Mr. Snipe dangling a little crab in his long beak, the sunlight shining right through it, twinkling like a tragic Christmas tree ornament.
Squadrons of pelicans flying overhead became “5 3 2 squadron” or “5 4 2 squadron”
to denote their formation and numbers or “Oh, look!” when there are too many to count. A single flying pelican was a “squadron leader.”
“Please tell me you are not going to take another picture of a pelican (or heron, parrot, cormorant, egret or ibis),” himself begged. I couldn’t help myself.
Several hideously large insects and spiders we were unable to identify were captured from a safe distance with a zoom lens.
Alligators were photographed in the same way. You can count their teeth in the photo knowing I haven’t knelt down in front of them as it appears, but was standing on a boardwalk, behind a railing, six feet up and twenty feet away.