Vulcan’s Peak

Butterflies, Bones, and Bluegrass. Also, Unitarians.

July 13, 2006 4:26 pm

The title line refers to last Saturday.

Pug and I spent the afternoon at the Florida Museum of Natural History, which turned out to be considerably bigger and cooler
than I expected. One of their big attractions is a large butterfly
enclosure, very nice, and we managed to be there during their butterfly release at 2pm. Since there are so many species, they just don’t have all the right plants that the various butterflies want to lay their eggs on, so nearly all of them are bought from “butterfly farms” and shipped to the museum as chrysalises, and a cageful of new butterflies are released into the main enclosure every few days.

Even without the new batch of flutterbyes, there were just butterflies everywhere, of all sorts of colors. One landed on my shoulder and hung out there for a while (several minutes) while we were watching the new butterflies get coaxed out of their cage. He finally flew off, but shortly after that, a gorgeous blue morpho started flying around us, and after landing briefly on Pug’s collar, finally landed on my cheek! After a while, I coaxed him onto my finger and he stayed there for a while before finally taking off. Definately up-close and personal.

Of course, “natural history museum” is always synonymous with
“fossils!!!” in my head. There were no dinosaurs here, but there were skeletons of a mammoth and a mastodon near the entrance, and there was a big room of early mammals – giant sloths and even giant-er sloths, saber toothed cats, little horses, armored armadillo-like creatures, and one huge bird that was the size of an ostrich with the head of an eagle. The biggest sloth had a hammock-sized ribcage, but this bird was the thing you didn’t want to meet in a dark jungle. Very happy with my fossil-fix.

There was also a really neat exhibit about the Calusa Indians from south Florida, and (as you’ll see on the front page if you go to the museum’s web site) a temporary exhibit of quilts depicting or inspired by “Natural Florida.” We had gotten about half-way through when we ran off to see the butterfly release, but there were some really pretty quilts – neat stuff done on machine, it looked like.

A friend Pug works with had told him about a music event that happens once a month on Saturday evenings, so the two of us and E. packed a picnic dinner and went to see what was what. They call it something like “Farm to Family” – basically, a bunch of people get together at some guy’s farm to play bluegrass music, and lots of people like us come to listen. We stayed for maybe three hours. The first act was okay because we were eating – they were good, but too much blues is really too much. We suffered through the second act. The singer/songwriter got up and admitted that he had failed at writing science fiction novels AND science fiction poetry, to the extent of having been booed off a coffee house stage…so now he was writing science fiction songs. It was bad. Best line: “I’m so out of tune…with you.” We all cracked up the first time we heard it. But the third and fourth groups were full bluegrass bands and lots of fun. Good toe-tapping music.

Sunday morning I went off to go do my liberal religion thing; E. was curious, so she tagged along, even though the sermon topic I saw online looked like it might be…not one I would choose for one to introduce someone to Unitarianism. Something like “The Sacred Act of Eating.” It turned out pretty well, though – it was a topic of interest to her.

Apparently this fellowship is just getting a new minister – or
rather, two ministers, a husband and wife pair. They’re starting in
August; all the July services are lay-led.

The service itself wasn’t so different from the UU church at home. Instead of reading off a list of visitors as part of the welcome and announcements like we do, though, they have a few minutes of stand-up-and-greet-the-people- around-you (which the Greenville fellowship does sometimes – Stacey and I hated that), only then if any members meet a visitor, they can stand up and introduce them to the rest of the congregation. There was a friendly old man sitting behind us who offered to introduce us, after which he offered the microphone to me and I said something very brief about having grown up as a UU in FWB, was new to the area, and here I was dragging a friend along to see this weird way of being religious. This is worth mentioning because a woman came up to me after the service and said that she had first gone to a UU church in Ft. Walton! I think she said it was in the 60’s and the way she described the group sounded like what I’ve heard about the beginnings of our fellowship. Remembered one couple who were particularly devoted to it and largely responsible for getting it going – I suspect she means the couple who have their photos in the back room (whose names I can’t remember…bad me), and when I described them that way, she laughed and said she was sure that was the case. And of course, she was very impressed to hear how much the fellowship has grown.

I wonder if there’s an influx of student-types during the school year? That seems to be true of anywhere else in Gainesville…

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