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First Monday

For years and years, once I learned about the free policy, I went to Leu Gardens to practice taking photographs. Summer and winter, spring and fall, if it was the first Monday, you would find me there carrying around either my "baby camera" at first, then later, my Nikon. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, Leu Gardens is where I got my first real camera lesson from Matthew. He told me about stuff like white balance, how to use the menus, and a few other tricks. That was probably in the winter of 2008 and I've been practicing ever since. Now, have I ever sold anything I've taken at Leu Gardens? I can think of one that Bev bought, but that's about it.

Oftentimes, while visiting my tent, people ask me if this is all I do. My response is pretty much this is it. What they can't know if they don't read this blog, or know me personally, is that very few photographs are interesting enough for a person to want to hang on their wall. Then too, many of mine are pretty much once in a lifetime opportunities. Although I've taken a gazillion sunset photos on Lake Jennie Jewel, I've yet to ever get another one quite like "Solid Gold." Same with "Beach Daisies"; I've visited quite a few beaches here in Florida and not once has a scene like that appeared. A lot of it is pure luck--being in the right place at the right time. That, my friends, is good enough for me!

Onward to my first visit this year to Leu. Last Monday it was that I figured, why not head over for an hour or two?
That sign sort of fits what I clumsily tried to explain above! Some of it is magic, with most of it practice. :)

There are flowers, however this visit I took a bunch of foliage shots, some close up and some far away. Just as there are a gazillion types of birds, so too there are a gazillion types of palm trees. Because they grow so well here, there is a large section of the gardens devoted to palms. In the foreground is one called a "petticoat palm." Don't you just love that name?
One thing I've noticed in the last few years, the grounds are not kept as well as they once were. Blame it on the recession's forced budget cuts. There is no Disney perfection, that's for sure!

I remember being so thrilled the first time I got a shot of one of these little bugs because they are so colorful:
While on the subject of flying things, I heard from Jane, Tom's Mum, a few weeks ago. Bemoaning the lack of bees in her garden in England, that has not been my experience. I've read about the same thing happening here, but you wouldn't know it from seeing them swarm this cactus flower.
Daily I'm dodging them, buzzing by the dozens on the jatropha tree adjacent to the patio table. Highly allergic to bees, I appreciate their role in nature, but just don't like them around me.

Imagine my excitement when I saw this:      
Is this a worm? My entire cardinal viewing experience up until now has never included them eating anything other than bird seed.  Woo-hoo!

The flowering plants in the butterfly garden were huge this time of year, what with all the rain we've been having, however, the butterflies mostly refused to stay put long enough for a photograph. Luckily,  I saw this one over by the cactus garden.
Despite earlier writing that no more squirrels would grace the entries on Camera Crazy, I couldn't resist posting this one:
After hanging upside down to harvest the seeds, he would flip back upright to eat.
Wiley creatures those squirrels.

Who amongst you can say that they've ever seen a color as gorgeous?
Seriously, perhaps that was a bit of an overstatement, but for my money, this color is hard to beat!

Who amongst you has seen a hibiscus bloom the size of a lunch plate?
I included the bird house for comparison purposes. Perhaps it is not so unusual if you think about how huge sunflowers can be, but to me, their size is really something.

About those foliage pictures I claimed focusing's one:
Layers, stripes, green edging, what's not to like?

While typing this I remembered that it wasn't always just the first Monday of the month, but every Monday was free, and maybe that's why my visits have been so infrequent of late. Better yet, I should just poney up for a Garden membership allowing me to go anytime. Duh!

Before I go I want to share one last photo I took on one of my rides last week. Coming around a corner, I was pretty sure I saw a hawk atop a giant tree stump, and indeed I did.
Stump is not that great of a word choice, however, I didn't know what else to call this 40 foot tree with no leaves. Any ideas?
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