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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Starr

Old Man Winter, not a welcome tourist

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

Michelle Starr Florida Master Naturalist Boca Grande Mermaid

Old man Winter has been vacationing here in Southwest Florida, he is not one of my favorite tourists. This guy brings high winds, cold temps, crazy storms and this time a full moon joined him turning the Gasparilla sound into a freezing soupy treadmill of whitecaps and rip currents, so this mermaid was landlocked. While awaiting old man winters departure I played in the dirt with some plant friends, my second love next to the sea. Soil and flora have everything to do with the health of the ocean, so to me it’s important to respect that law of nature. Because of that I try to adhere to Florida friendly landscaping, which basically means using environmentally sustainable practices with plants that are low maintenance. A few of my favorites are hibiscus, lemongrass, aloe, pineapple, and purslane, which are all edible and have been said to have medicinal purposes.

After a few days of dirt digging and squeezing in a little skating and feeling mildly too domesticated old man winter finally is wandering away and it’s time to head back down to the island!

Boca Grande Fishing Pier Placida Florida

Thursday, we waited for the chill to subside before heading down to the launch, where people watching can be just as fun as fishing. For example, as we drove down the long dirt drive, we noticed a minivan off the side and in the mangrove swamp. Something we are sure is going to happen at least twice a week, but never does. Today this guy decided that he wanted to try the swamp life or that’s the story Ive got in my head. The van was so stuck in the mangroves that when the tow truck pulled it out it started smoking. So, beware when you come down for an adventure, don’t back into the swamp. We are all about salt life here.

Whiddens Marina Food Truck Boca Grande

After all that excitement and putting out our first round of boats it was time for lunch, and one of our favorites is the No Name food Truck that is parked down at Whiddens Marina, one of my absolute favorite gems on Gasparilla Island!! Their burgers are that true juicy delish food truck burger you crave, and there is so much to explore around the historic marina while you wait. You can’t not check out their plant selection if you are a plant lover like me!! Lots of Florida friendly plants and beautiful orchids in sustainable compostable pots!

This mermaid also loves road trips, and finding new places to explore, from springs, to forest, to old Florida secrets. This weekend we are taking a trip to the Chassahowitza river campground. Don’t ask me to pronounce that because I can’t, but I can tell you that it’s one of the most beautiful springs and campground in Florida, and its where the manatee hangout when old man winter comes to town. The Weather channel says it’s going to be in the 30’s, that translates to 20 below zero to me. To find out if we manage to stay warm, locate sea cows and explore old Florida check out next week’s mermaid tails.

Stay salty,



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