Eating sea urchins and azalea season

We have been hard at work (and hard at play) this past week.

A few days ago, I was explaining to Elise how I would wade into the tide pools when I was a child in Southern California and poke at anemones and sea urchins. You could stick your finger into the sea anemones and they would suck on it, like a baby sucking its thumb. Urchins, however, you don’t really want to mess with. She has several sea urchin shells in her collection now. These stories made her very happy.

This, of course, prompted Rodney to suggest she try sea urchins at our neighborhood Thai restaurant. We made a trip to the restaurant solely for this purpose. When we arrived, the sushi chef said he had only enough urchin for one serving remaining. (Apparently, urchins are in high demand here…) So Elise ordered it, and very much enjoyed eating it.

Only later did we learn that the only edible part of sea urchins are their gonads. So in the past month, we’ve eaten veal brains and sea urchin gonads. I feel like I need to buy a sack of chicken nuggets for Elise just so she can experience some measure of normalcy.

We have mature hedges of purple azaleas all the way around our house. I look forward to the end of January / beginning of February to see them in bloom. And they really put on a show. I have some salmon-colored azaleas in the front of the house as well, and they have been blooming for over a month now. “Winter” in the Deep South is pretty special.

The bougainvilleas by one of our back doors have also taken off. I planted these when we moved in, and to be honest, I did not think they were ever going to bloom. They need a lot of light, and they are on the edge of an ancient magnolia and an ancient oak that is loaded with Spanish moss. But they finally bloomed, and they are spectacular.

This is a lovely little flower I saw in the dunes playing on the beach this morning. We spent our Sunday morning walking a few miles down the beach at low tide, came home for lunch, then went out for another six-mile walk down the Intracoastal Waterway. It felt like all of Florida was out enjoying a beautiful, clear day. We didn’t see any dolphins today, but we did meet a lot of high-quality dogs taking their humans for walks.

Not a bad view, eh?

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