Nature In Downtown Sarasota

Natural Wonders in Downtown Sarasota

Environmentalists constantly charge that development has deprived plants and animals of their natural habitat. While I would normally agree, a few thing have happened over the past few weeks that make me wonder whether this is true, or if plants and animals are adapting just fine to cityscapes.

Last week, I was walking along Main Street in downtown Sarasota. It was early evening, perhaps 7 p.m., and still light. As I passed the building housing the offices of First Baptist Church, I glanced down at the sidewalk. Lying on the concrete, at the junction where the church building butted up against the locksmith shop, was a length of rubber tubing. I took a few more steps before it registered. “What on earth was that?” I wondered aloud. I backed up and bent down for a second look. Just a two-foot length of black rubber hose, sticking out of a hole in the mortar between the buildings. Then it moved. Slowly it backed away from me, sliding back into the circular hole a few inches. Thinking I was imagining things, I inched closer, cautiously. Again the snake retreated, this time until only its head was visible at the entrance of the hole. I blinked and it was gone. I have no idea what type of snake it was; I was so astounded to see it in the midst of an urban environment that I never thought to identify it.

night-blooming-cereus

Night Blooming Cereus flowers adorn the scraggly cactus just one night each year. Photo courtesy of http://skiplombardi.org.

Later that same night, I was leaving my favorite coffee shop following a performance by guitarist/vocalist Michael Miller, when his wife, Laura, told me about the Night Blooming Cereus, a cactus flower that only opens after dark, and only blooms for a single night each year. This being the long-awaited night, I drove to the Towles Court neighborhood in search of the elusive flower. As Laura had promised, it was a spectacular display – giant white flowers larger than a person’s hand, draped all over the thin, scraggly cactus.

During my two and a half years of living in downtown Sarasota I have seen a family of raccoons in the Rosemary cemetery, giant blue herons trying to steal fish from the pond in the courtyard of my building, and a red-shouldered hawk perched in the low branches of a palm tree in my parking lot. For the past week I have been gorging on mangoes falling from a heavy-laden tree at my back door, and wild banana trees in a vacant lot next door regularly produce fat bunches of sweet fruit.

It certainly doesn’t seem that development is negatively impacting the flora and fauna in Sarasota; if anything, they seem to be thriving. All of which makes me smile…..except perhaps for the snake.

3 Comments on “Natural Wonders in Downtown Sarasota

  1. Barb, there are certainly more ‘educated’ folks than me that can and will go on-and-on about how development displaces natural habitats of animals and how bad it is. The truth is that we (humans) have to live here to and we have to live in a certain amount of development – even the average tree hugger has no problem owning a nice house, driving a nice car and buying things that come in plastic containers.
    Still from the ‘average man’ point of view – there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of many creatures adapting just fine to our ‘intrusions’. I’ve flow hang gliders in a nearly innumerable mountain ranges in my life, but never actually flew with bald eagles until I came to the highly populated state of Florida. 2 of them live near my house in a very developed part of the Daytona area as well.
    When I return home from the Orlando Airport, I drive under an active Osprey nest that sits happily (and has for the 4 years I’ve been doing it) over the traffic on 417. Yesterday,I saw the heads of 2 youngsters in the nest.
    Obviously, we can go overboard on a lot of things we do in relation to the environment – but I think we’re closer to a happy medium than the far,far left side of the argument would have you believe. It is they however, that have been the catalyst for us getting to this point as well.
    I’m in agreement with your observations. Good post.

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