Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It Takes a Village

They must have been a young couple, in a hurry to find a home.  The spot they selected wasn’t exactly in the best of locations, if you know what I mean.  They put things together rapidly in order to prepare for their little ones, who would obviously be arriving soon.  The old saying “the wolf was at the door” was very close to the truth for this pair.  In spite of the problems that could easily be foreseen by outside bystanders, the couple forged ahead.  They showed teamwork, communicated well (although sometimes I thought she sounded a little chiding), and made a good solid effort to keep their home and their young brood together.  All in all, I completely enjoyed watching their daily activities.

When I heard Ben yelling instructions at the dog and both kids, I knew immediately that something was wrong.  Georgia-Lee quickly moved Max to a secured location; his canine curiosity was definitely piqued.  Benjamin ran to get the tallest ladder we owned.  Before I knew it, he climbed the ladder 15 feet into the maple tree and placed the squawking baby mockingbird back into its nest.  A nearby nest mate didn’t fair as well.  Both Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird seemed none too pleased with the order of the morning.  I breathed a sigh of relief once the baby was back in the nest, sure that the world was now at peace.

Morning excitement as Benjamin places Baby Mockingbird back into its nest.

Within 45 minutes or so, just before we were scheduled to leave home for several hours, we once again spotted the baby bird on the ground under its nest.  When we looked up at the nest in the maple tree, we saw a gaping hole in the bottom side of the nest.  What could we do?  Due to time constraints, we were forced to leave the little bird on the ground.  Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird watched and chirped.

Baby Mockingbird looks a little unhappy about a second fall from the nest.

The nest remained quiet and still when we returned home.  The ground beneath the tree revealed no baby bird.  The attentive young couple was nowhere to be seen.  We released Max from his captivity.  Georgia-Lee and her friend braved the heat of the day, playing on the tire swing and talking beneath the shade of the oaks.  With great excitement, they yelled that they found a baby bird.  Sure enough, more than 100 feet from where it fell from its nest, the baby sat on the ground, beak open and squawking.  Georgia-Lee quickly confirmed that it was our much beloved Baby Mockingbird, especially since both parents were watching (and fussing) nearby. 

Concerned parent

As a little boy, Benjamin always claimed he wanted to be a veterinarian.  When he carefully repaired the nest and gently placed Baby Mockingbird inside of it (for a second time in one day), he certainly was getting on the job training!  Not long after human commotion subsided, Mama Mockingbird and Daddy Mockingbird returned to the scene.  They showed up, showering their little one with attention and with food (much like many of us Southerners do when something is wrong with someone for whom we care!).  

One of the parents rests on a branch of the maple before moving into the nest, hidden in the branches and leaves.

I have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child.  I also know that natural selection removes the weakest from nature.  I hope that in this case, we are the village.    

Monday, June 27, 2011

Love You, Daddy!

Last week, June 20, was Father's Day.  I feel so blessed to have grown up in a family with both my Daddy and my Mama.  And for the past 11 years, I sure have missed my daddy!          

I have always loved this picture.  Both Daddy and I look so happy!  It was taken in the late afternoon, spring or summer, maybe 1989 or 1990.  Daddy was probably just getting home from work, as he was standing beside his Chevy truck.  He always liked Chevrolets; therefore, so did I.  I had been cleaning my car, a 1969 Camaro, which I really liked.  In the background, you can see his big ol' John Deere tractor.  Mama really captured it all in this photo!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Season Opener Snapper

The morning dawned calm and beautiful.  Within no time, the condo at Navy Cove was bustling with activity.  We donned swimwear, savved up with sunscreen, gathered snacks, filled water bottles, and grabbed the camera.  Getting ready for Alabama's opening day of red snapper fishing with the family definitely requires proper planning!

Looking at the Navy Cove Lagoon, it is a beautiful morning for a fishing trip!

For two long years, Ben has had plenty of time to plan this fishing trip.  He has been tying rigs, reading fishing forums, confirming coordinates, and checking the weather for the past few weeks.  Snapper fishing season in Alabama opened June 1, 2011, and Ben was determined to be ready.  Last year, he was equally prepared for opening day.  There was nothing he could do though about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the fact that federal waters were closed to fishing the eve of red snapper season in 2010.  Anyway, waters were open and we had a beautiful forecast this year - calm seas and an eager group of fishermen!

Not long after we anchored the boat and floated just off the rig, Ben got our lines into the 65' foot waters.  If Ben was a deckhand on a charter boat, he would have really earned his tip on this trip!  During the next 80-90 minutes at the rig, we caught our limit of snapper.  He was constantly taking big snapper off the line, cutting fish for chum, tying leaders, fixing weights, and hooking pogies.  Looking around occasionally at the five or six other boats fishing the rig, it seemed we were the only ones catching!  Georgia-Lee reeled in her two, I reeled in mine, and Benjamin handled his and probably Ben's too.  I really hope Ben enjoyed the fishing trip as much as the rest of us did!

Benjamin and Ben smile for a quick photo before getting the snapper in the cooler.  Notice how much Georgia-Lee is enjoying the fishing trip snacks!

Check out the big one that Georgia-Lee reeled in!

On the way back to Navy Cove, we stopped by the Dock Store at the Gulf Shores Marina for ice cream and Coke.  I am pretty sure that the promise of the treat afterwards might have been what lured Georgia-Lee to go on the fishing trip!  :) 

What a sweet reward!  American Girl Lanie enjoyed the fishing trip too!

Later in the evening, we ate fresh snapper for dinner.  Dinner was delicious, definitely worth repeating.

Season Opener Snapper

4-6 Gulf Coast red snapper fillets
1/2 stick butter
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1/3 cup crushed Saltine crackers
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon Zatarain’s Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt

·        Melt butter, add Creole seasoning, salt, and Vidalia onions.  Allow seasons to blend and onions to become tender. 
·        Combine crushed saltines and grated parmesan cheese.
·        Spray glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Place snapper fillets in dish; brush with buttery sauce.  Cover fillets with saltine/cheese mixture.  Spoon the remaining butter sauce and onions over the covered fillets. 
·        Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until fillets flake. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Salt Life

A full week of beaching, fishing, and staying on the lovely Gulf Coast is a great sandy privilege.  For our family vacation this year, we returned to Navy Cove in Fort Morgan, Alabama.  We discovered Navy Cove back in 2006, the first summer Ben owned the Champion and the first summer since Hurricane Ivan ravaged the Alabama coastline.  We found Navy Cove to be the perfect vacation spot for our family and my sportsman husband.  Sure, the dedicated boat slip, bay access, proximity to the pass, fishcleaning stations, opportunities to catch shrimp, mullet, and more from the dock are all great things.  In addition to all of that, the condos are nice, the pools refreshing, the beach close, and the sunsets AMAZING!

Beautiful sunsets and smiles on these Smith kids!

Our fourth family vacation at Navy Cove didn't disappoint.  The weather all week was perfect - upper 80s, lower 90s, with a slight breeze most days on the beach.  Beachbumming was fun and plenty relaxing.  Fishing proved successful (check back for a future post on snapper fishing) and delicious - we ate fresh mullet, snapper, redfish, and/or trout every day!  We enjoyed our time together as a family - we enjoyed the Alabama salt life!    

Georgia-Lee works on the beach bum she and Ben created seaside.

Mobile Bay offers a bounty of activities; one of Benjamin's favorites is casting his net at dusk.  He caught shrimp, mullet, pogies, and more this trip.

Working on clean plates, the crew enjoy Ben's fried mullet, sweet potato fries, and Vidalia onion rings on the balcony.