This past week, my folks drove all the way from the icy reaches of Pennsylvania to our humble abode in sunny South Florida. I took a day off work to spend a little time with them and we found some fun things to do.
First of all, we took them to Grassy Waters Preserve. It’s a wetland preserve that both Mr. R. and I pass twice every day as we go to and from work. We probably take the folks there every time they visit because you’re always guaranteed to see a gator or three.
This time, however, we were going to see an art exhibit by The Highwaymen, an event that has been advertised out by the entrance all month. Here’s a link to a promotional video for the exhibit.
The Highwaymen is the collective name for a group of African-American artists who painted Florida landscapes starting in the 50s. According to a sign at the exhibit, during that time an African-American farm day-laborer could expect to earn between $5 and $10 per day. These artists could sell a painting for $25 to $35 each. Which became a huge economic incentive for these guys to paint as many pictures as they could, often selling them while they were still wet.
However, don’t assume that because they were hastily done they were inferior in quality. As I looked over the paintings on display, I was struck by the beauty, by the contrasting light and shadow, by the amazing colors. We ended up buying a signed copy of the official poster of this year’s event, a painting done of Grassy Waters.
After we left there, we toodled around for a while before we ended up at the brand new, just opened Manatee Lagoon Discovery Center at the FP&L plant in Riviera Beach. Manatees are drawn to warm water, especially on cold days, and the power plant puts warm water into the Intracoastal Waterway. People have shown up for years to glimpse these gentle creatures. FP&L finally realized that rather than fighting it, they should accommodate the curious animal lovers and so they built this terrific discovery center with a two-level observation deck. Oh, and there’s a gift shop.
It was a cool day so it was a good bet that we’d see manatees. And we weren’t disappointed. I kept snapping pictures, unable to see my screen because the sun was so bright.
There are times when the lagoon is packed with the critters literally body to body, but the folks were thrilled by their first glimpse of manatees in the wild.
We ended our outing with dinner at Duffy’s on Clematis. It was a great day to skip work and hang out with loved ones.