Hello Friends and Family,

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The Jones Neighborhood: Part 2

Continuing my walkabout in Florida, I encounter the pyramid house. One might suggest that we're not in Florida anymore but have been transported to Egypt. They even have hieroglyphics to the side of the front entrance. I can't read hieroglyphics but I expect it says something like "solicitors will be fed to the alligators". My sister wondered if their razor blades last longer and if their fruit doesn't spoil.

As I continue my walk, I wonder if there might be something in the water that causes locals to build weird houses in this neighborhood. Here we see the Flying Saucer House. I have never seen it take off but I have seen the alien inhabitants wandering around in the yard. They are so clever — disguised as humans — so well done — they look so natural — it's hard to tell that they're aliens.

Eventually I recalled the TV series V about an alien race of reptiles who came to Earth supposedly as friends but who were actually planning to export humans to their home planet for food. Fans of the show will remember that they had to remove their human shaped outer cover, so they could swallow rats whole as a snack.

I used to think that show was science fiction — now I know it was a documentary — they only pretended it was science fiction to try and catch us off guard. Naturally, I quickly moved on past this house before they could capture me.

Eventually I came to this plantation-style home. I guess it is appropriate since it is located in the city of Plantation and on a street named Tara — as in Gone With the Wind's Tara. However, I didn't see Scarlett — do you supposed she was eaten by the aliens?

South Florida is a web of canals. In some cases they were planned to control the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee — the second largest freshwater lake in the United States — and the source of water for the Everglades. Of course, humans think they are better at controlling water flow than Mother Nature — thus the need for the canals.

The canals also provide the fill for land upon which to build houses. And if you're really smart, you can sell "water-front" property along the canals to suckers who have more money than brains. Developers have made mega-millions with such property in the Las Olas area of Fort Lauderdale.

Naturally, the canals are home to fish and snakes and alligators. More recently, the canals and, particularly the banks, have become home to iguanas. These lizards were released into the wild intentionally by pet owners who did not want them any more or unintentionally by hurricanes. They are now considered a nuisance invasive species.

I have a different theory — they are the offspring of those reptilian aliens mentioned above — the "kids" simply playing in the canals. It also provides them experience in avoiding the alligators.

Iguanas are not the only invasive species. During the time of my visit, there have been numerous newspaper articles and TV news stories about the pythons that have also established themselves in the Everglades. Some of them have become huge. My sister tells a story about a python taking on an alligator. The python "won" by squeezing the alligator until it could no longer breath. But then tried to swallow the alligator whole and promptly "lost" by fatally splitting open its body due to the size of the gator.

Hey! A pandamus plant! These are common in Hawai`i — and found in most of Polynesia — where the leaves were used for shelter, mats and clothing while the fruit was eaten. On some islands, the pandamus fruit was as important as coconuts for the residents.

Then I spotted a vine covering a chain link fence with what looks like a passion flower. Some varieties produce a wonderful fruit, appropriately called passion fruit. Hmmm, think POG — Passion fruit, Orange, Guava. A tropical delight that always takes me back to the islands.

And a lovely stand of ironwood. This are also common in Hawai`i and produce a small seed pod that resembles the bottom of a pineapple. I believe I am repeating myself from earlier LAHP articles when I was in Hawai`i — so no more need be said.

More Cook Pines as I shared last week. But this stand was too good to pass up — so I hope you'll forgive me for showing two instances of the same type of tree.

Of course, Florida would not be Florida without lots of varieties of palms. Because of the numerous species available, they provide wonderful mixtures of textures, shapes and shades in the local landscape. Below are four fine examples.

Last but not least is the mystery fruit. We call it that because no one in my family knows the real name. I think it is a alien species because I saw it growing in the yard of the Flying Saucer House.
To be continued next week...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com