Learning to Love Vultures

Dear Friend in Peace,

Some days are so rich and full they can only be described as blissful. This was one. Ernie and I were checking on wildlife cameras and Tillandsia at Carlton and encountered joy at every turn. The photos below and their descriptions tell much of the story as does the poem, but not all.

When I first came to Florida, I was repulsed by and a bit scared of vultures. Our relationship has changed. Two friends helped me grow from disdain of vultures into profound admiration, and finally to love for them. First was my dear childhood chum Linnea. On one of her visits to Florida, we were at Myakka wandering, looking, when she stopped, pointed upward, and said, “Look, it’s a kettle of vultures!” With those few words, she began my transformation. Watching their ascent and intrigued by the word kettle to describe their process of "hitching a ride" by circling within an updraft of warm air to be lifted higher and higher, I felt my heart soften toward these clever beings.

Observing their behavior with one another helped me warm up even more towards them as did learning of their vital service to our environment by eating dead animals. The finishing touches of healing my prejudice against them came from my dear friend Karen who adores vultures. She took Ernie and me to see baby vultures in the wild. Her tenderness and passion for these precious little beings pushed me over the top into being a vulture aficionada too.

At a time when invitations to be repulsed by others are rampant, it is heartening and important to remember that it need not be. The more we learn about and get to know others, the more there is for us to respect and admire in them. Brotherhood comes through familiarity, through getting to know one another as unique beings.

May we choose to get to know the “vultures” in our lives and discover their challenges, strengths, and humanity. In doing so, we bless ourselves with new friends and fortify our inner peace.

Pine Tree: I love Pine trees and this one is so precious I had to share it because of its self-assurance, dignity, and jaunty attitude.
Giant Airplant: This majestic beauty is a Tillandsia utriculata in spike. These plants are an endangered species because of a weevil which came in on exotic Bromeliads. Ernie and I have been involved in the effort to keep them alive since 2014. We get very excited when we see a healthy giant airplant.
Colorful Scene: This scene softens my heart. Its combination of intense colors proffers peace