Once upon a time, Fred Rogers took off his jacket and put on a sweater his mother made for him, a cardigan with a zipper. Then he took off his shoes and put on a pair of navy-blue canvas boating sneakers. 


He taught us everything we needed to know about friendship and showed us what neighborly looks like ~ every day for thirty-one years.

I have lots of new neighbors. All interesting, all friendly, some aquatic. Carl Sandburg says that poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. These spinning sharks are poetry in motion. They mesmerize me as they migrate just yards offshore.

In the lagoon, there’s a happy-go-larky dolphin pod~ feeding, socializing, having kids.  The wildlife monitors who spend lots of time on the water tell me that each dolphin’s dorsal fin has a unique shape and, as the dolphin gets older, the fin gathers more and more nicks, cuts, and scratches. This dolphin “fingerprint” helps them identify each one in the waterway. By name. I’m slowly making headway in recognizing shore birds but telling one dolphin from one another, well that’s a whole ‘nother thang.

Nan-dolphinsDSC04587-1_001There’s a series of interconnected ponds on the golf course.  It isn’t unusual to see otters body-surf and splash around, fishing and playing in the sun.  Webbed toes, tapered tails, whiskered muzzles, they’re just over-the-top cute.  And they’re a daily reminder to lighten up and be more like them.


All year round down by the bridge, sirens of the sea hang out.  They nuzzle my heart.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, recorded in his journal that he saw three “mermaids” (manatees) and described them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”

These gentle sea cows, with their human-like eyes, mostly just sleep and eat where the water is 68-72 degrees.  Manatees are a Florida treasure, a rare site outside of the state. (Their Best Friend in the Neighborhood? The Sunshine Lady, Captain Nancy ~ Coastal Master Naturalist, certified marine mammal observer and wildlife monitor.  Read about her here in this earlier post.)

I love all my new neighbors, the WaterTribe-critters and the Landlubbers alike. And getting to know them is a hoot.

Almost everyone around here is from somewhere else. I find that the geography of where a person comes from tells a lot about who they are. Deborah Fallows researched some conversation starters for strangers seeking friends. 

Fallows has a favorite one. She says, “This opening line is versatile, effective, probing enough to educe an interesting response, but not so specific as to seem overly invasive, allowing the respondent to adjust a reply to their level of comfort, project an answer of really any form they want, describe any aspect of themselves with a higher degree of truth that they feel is essential to their… well, story.”

I bet it would be Mr. Roger’s favorite, too.




Are you a transplant?

have new neighbors?

How do you turn strangers into friends?

What’s your story?

 Toni 5/2/14






  1. Friendship, in every form is one of life’s essential elements, whether it is shared with humans or nature. This is a beautiful post that links all aspects of its joys. I miss Fred Rogers and pull him up on my computer when I am with the Adorables (ages 5 and 6 now). It saddens me how generations of children will grow up without his gentle guidance. (Are you in FL permanently now?)


    1. I spent my first winter here, put down a few taproots. Still a CT gal for all other seasons. Love to meet up sometime, here in the land of scrub jays and spinning sharks. I’ve learned that Florida is so much more than having breakfast with Goofy. 🙂
      Since I gave my SIL the Bridge Club book, she’s become a fan, now off to Provence!
      Cheers, Toni


      1. Yes, let’s make that happen next winter. I go to FP at least once or twice … “Cass” from The Bridge Club lives there. 🙂 What fun that your SIL is going to Provence!


  2. Mr. Rogers has popped up a few times this week. It is amazing the legacy he left behind on how to be a decent human being. The world was a better place for him being here.
    I wish I could have seen your shark spinning but the video won’t play in Canada. The rest of your new neighbours are wonderful! Enjoy.


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