I know you’re not going to feel sorry for me, but please let me try anyway.  One morning a few weeks ago, when we woke up at 6 am, it was really cold here in Palm Beach County, Florida.  It had gone down to 39 degrees!

From the weather forecast the day before, I knew that we were in for a cold spell so I took precautions for my “plant nursery” on the patio behind my house.  I left the outside fan on to circulate the air just in case it went lower than 40 degrees. 

My collection of orchids has survived for many years.  With proper feeding and care not to over-water them, I have had many of them bloom year after year, sometimes even several times a year.   

I am especially fond of orchids.  What begins as a very plain-looking plant, sometimes with just a few dark green leaves, is transformed into a display of multiple identical flowers with the most meticulous details rivaling any painting.

During the shortest, chilly days of December, each plant produces one or two shoots.  It brings me great joy when I see these early buds since I know that at the end of the winter, I will have a patio full of some amazing blooms.  I never remember which plant will produce which color.    It reminds me of when I was a child and I saw the first signs of spring poking through the snow-covered ground.  I was always happy that I had planted these crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips months before during the fall. 

As my orchid stalks slowly grew through the cooler days of January, I was once again reassured that warmer days were coming.  By mid-February, some of the early bloomers opened with amazing examples of nature’s beauty. 

By mid-March, all of my precious orchids will be in full bloom.  The darker shorter days of our Florida winter will just be a memory. Once again I’ll be able to enjoy the warm weather which is the main reason that I moved down here over 40 years ago. 

The gorgeous pink, purple, yellow, orange and white flowers are worth waiting for.  We are grateful for the long slow growth process which ultimately rewards us with some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations. 

Later this month, I will be happy to share with you some photos of my beloved orchids!  

Numbers 2022

When our yoga instructor, Shaina, asked us last week if anyone noticed that the date was 2/2/22, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!  My wife thinks that my fascination with numbers is the ultimate in nerdiness, second only to my obsessive observation of spelling mistakes. 

Although Shaina told us that she thought it was “cool” for the same number to be lined up in a date, the rest of the group was unfazed except for me. I told her later that I’ve been watching another upcoming date with intense interest.  On February 22, 2022, it will be the last time for over eleven years that the dates will consist of the same number.  (That would be 3/3/33.) 

As I told you in a previous post (“Numbers”), these numerical combinations are often what I think about when I am trying to fall asleep.  Last night I decided that I would make sure to capture a photo of my computer clock when it is 2:22:22, as in 2:22 and 22 seconds on February 22, 2022! 



You can see by now that it doesn’t take much to get me excited!


More than 60 years later, I often think about Mrs. Naomi Weller, my eight-grade English teacher.  (That’s when we still called it “English” class.)

Mrs. Weller was a stickler for grammar.  Of the many things that I can remember about her class, she taught us how to diagram sentences, a skill which I use to this day.   When I have to decide whether to use “who” or “whom” or if I have to decide if it’s okay to dangle a participle, I think about those classes.  Those grammar lessons have even helped me teach my wife Spanish or in my own foreign language conversations that I have on a regular basis with friends in Argentina and France. 

Most of my classmates fell asleep during her lessons or were totally bored.  I happen to have had a mother who until the day she died would wink at me when she heard people committing heinous grammar errors such as “between you and I” or “me and my wife.”  So I have always considered myself a “grammar snob.”

This past week I was reminded about Mrs. Weller once again. Early in the last few mornings, our backyard lake was enshrouded in fog. 

Our backyard in Florida

I have always been fascinated by the particular weather conditions which create fog.   According to my internet search, it happens when the “lake water is heated by the sun and stays warmer than the air temperature during the cool night.  When the cold layer of still air settles over the lake, the warm water vapor from the pond evaporates and enters the cool air above it.  The cool air then traps the concentrated water vapor,” thereby forming the fog.

Now you ask, why did this make me think of Mrs. Weller?  In addition to her grammar lessons, she also taught us to appreciate poetry.  She posted a daily poem on the blackboard and we would analyze it for its use of different parts of speech or how new words were strung together in a novel way to convey a special thought. 

Carl Sandburg’s “Fog” was one of those poems.

 For some reason, I remember exactly where her class was on the second floor of the Henry B. Whitehorne Junior High School in Verona, New Jersey.

Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School, Verona, NJ

 I found out recently that Mrs. Weller is no longer alive.   She would probably have been happy to know what an impact she has had on me for over 60 years!

Sounds of a Quiet Morning  


Living on a large lake in Palm Beach County, Florida, we get to experience a variety of natural and man-made sounds every morning. 

Since New Year’s Day fell this year on a Saturday, we had an unusual treat early in the morning.  Depending on the direction of the wind, we normally hear either the hum of the cars and trucks Florida Turnpike from a mile away to the west or the street noise to the east where cars love to drag race or show off their noisy mufflers. 

Weekends are usually quieter because there are no school buses and less traffic in general.  On New Year’s morning, when we went out to have our early breakfast on our second-floor balcony, we were amazed to see how still everything was.  There was not even a slight breeze, so the lake beneath us was like a mirror.  At around 6:30 am, the colors of the sky were just beginning to appear to the east. 

The magnificent colors of the early morning sky

Due to the lack of cars and trucks early that morning on the Turnpike, the sounds of our resident bird population were heard without any competition.  The limpkins were much louder than usual.  Their “crying bird” call coming from across the lake sounded like they were right in our backyard. 

Our noisy friend, the limpkin

Next to appear were the small flocks of Muscovy ducks whose familiar quacking announced their daily morning flight back to our lake. 

Muscovy duck

Once they arrive, they move around the lake by flying very close to the surface, so close in fact that you often hear and see the wings flapping against the water as they take flight.  Since the lake had no movement, this sound was even more distinct than ever.

From a distance, the noisy chatter of the Egyptian geese came next.  They are a relatively new arrival on our lake.  They live in large groups and their early morning honking will wake up even the deepest sleeper. 

The very noisy Egyptian geese

By 7:30 am, the sky was ablaze with orange and pink tones.  At that time, we normally see the egrets,



Heron in the early morning sky

an occasional roseate spoonbill,

Roseate spoonbills

and flocks of skittish ibises. With the exception of a short call by a heron, these lake residents are relatively quiet. 

But, at exactly 8 am, the man-made sounds began to infringe on our tropical splendor.  First, the drone of the leaf blower from the parking lot of the recreation center down the block.  Then, the roar of the lawn mowers from different points on the lake. 

At that point we could see that our sanctuary had disappeared.  We had to escape to our indoor quiet so that we could remember how peaceful the past hour had been.   

Our lake on a quiet cloudy morning

Going to the Beach in the Winter

Last summer, I wrote about one of our favorite activities during our Pandemic “staycation.”  From June to September we went very frequently to our closest public beach, about 20 minutes from our home.  If we arrived early in the morning before 9 am, we were guaranteed a parking space.  At that hour, the air temperature was still in the mid-70s but gradually the ocean temperature rose up to 86 degrees. 

It was sunny and we had the beach almost all to ourselves.  We could do our morning walk along the coast with multi-million-dollar mansions set back in the grassy dunes.

One of many mansions along the ocean

There were some weeks that we went there every day of the week. 

As the seasons changed, we stopped going to the beach because we resumed our normal walking routine with our neighbors within the community.  It also took too long to get to the beach because of the early morning school bus activity. 

When this morning I suggested to my wife that we go to the beach, we decided to make it a late-afternoon excursion.  Today was a sunny day and the temperature rose into the low 80s, but early in the morning it was “only” 65 degrees, a temperature too cold for my sensitive feet.  And the ocean temperature this time of year is only about 75 degrees, way too cold for my now “thin-blooded” body. I wasn’t even thinking about going swimming!

When we arrived at the beach, the parking lot was filled to capacity and we had to wait a few minutes for a space.  A quick survey of the cars revealed many out of state visitors, normal for this time of year and especially during the Christmas break. 

As we reached the ocean, it was so crowded that we had to find a place to put our beach chairs, something we never have to do during the summer.   We could tell that there were many grandparents with their visiting children and grandchildren. 

Our beach” in the morning during the summer: empty!

After 4 pm, we didn’t realize that the sun had already gone behind the trees and the beach was enveloped in an early sunset shade.  We actually felt a little cold even though the temperature was still in the high 70s!  It was fun watching the seasonal visitors playing in the surf.  They were obviously not feeling the chill that we were. As soon as we finished our dinner, we decided to pack up and left the beach.  We both felt comfortable getting into our nice warm car.   

It reminded me of past winters here in Florida.  When the temperatures occasionally go down into the 50s and even sometimes into the 40s, we bring out our winter coats, sweaters, gloves, hats and scarves!   We would see some of our “snowbird” neighbors from Canada walking in their t-shirts and shorts. Just as we wondered about how they were dressed, they were probably looking at us as weirdos.  

It all depends on what you get used to!    

You never know what you’ll see at the beach!

The First Day of Winter – Florida Style

I’ve never been a great fan of winter.

Winter scene

Growing up in New Jersey, I was always uncomfortable in the cold. Growing up in a poorly insulated house, I can remember complaining to my parents that I just couldn’t warm up.  On cold days, I would seek refuge in the cold basement where I would lean against the oil furnace which helped me manage to get through the cold, dreary months. 

At the age of 30, I jumped at the opportunity to relocate in Florida.  I can still remember the day it happened.  With two infants already in their car seats in the middle of a snowstorm, the oldest had a particularly leaky diaper blowout.  After going back inside to change the diaper, we had one of those “What are we doing here?” moments.  The next day, when I found an advertisement for a position in a newly created clinic in West Palm Beach, I knew we had to make the right decision.

The process of getting used to the tropical climate didn’t take me long at all.  The summer we moved down to Florida was an exceptionally rainy one.  That’s where we learned how the torrential downpours can be seen in the distance. 

Rain in the distance

It can be sunny where you are, but down the road as you see the bright headlights coming towards you, you know you are heading into a storm.  Sometimes the rainfall can be so heavy that your windshield wipers can’t even keep up with the volume and many people pull off to the side of the road to wait it out.  It’s the Florida version of blizzard conditions.

As the “winter” approached, we began to experience the cooler mornings when the temperature actually went down into the 50s.  When I realized I was complaining about the cold, I knew I had adjusted to Florida.  My blood was properly “thinned,” as they say here to indicate that you had finally made the transition and you have the right to complain about feeling cold when the high temperature for the day doesn’t even reach 70 degrees. 

Dressed up in winter clothes

Now that I have been living here for more than 40 years, I am considered almost a native. On the days when the morning temperatures are down into the 50s and rarely even into the 40s, we bring out our winter sweaters, coats, gloves and scarves.  We laugh when look at ourselves, dressed in multiple layers of winter warmth and our Canadian neighbors pass us by jogging in their shorts.  We’re freezing and they’re loving the heat wave.

There are some days that my hands and feet just don’t warm up.  I wear foot warmers to sleep comfortably and socks most of the time to deal with the cold tile floors.  Occasionally my hands remain cold, despite washing them repeatedly in warm water. I remember when I was working as a pediatrician, I had to apologize before examining a patient’s warm abdomen or they would jump off the exam table.  I added silly phrases like “cold hands, warm heart” to my apology. 

My outdoor plants at this time of year, however, are loving the cooler weather.  They are going through a big growth spurt during this season, producing new leaves and flowers.

My collection of orchids that I have accumulated over the years, however, look pathetic.  Their last blooms fell off at least four or five months ago, leaving the plants with non-descript nakedness.  With scheduled feedings and a careful avoidance of fatal over-watering, I have managed to keep them alive year after year.

While several of my Christmas cactus plants are in full bloom,

Christmas cactus, in full bloom

the adjacent orchids have been biding their time until the simple looking plants start to produce new shoots.  Almost every day for the past week, I have been watching for new buds on one plant after another.  I get so excited when these new shoots appear.

The early bud of an orchid

 I feel a sense of renewed optimism when I see the first sign of growth.  I know that they will turn into a stalk of 15-20 delicate flowers with such amazing detail and beauty within a few months. 

View of our lake in the morning

We often read that it nourishes your soul to express gratitude early in the morning for the simplest things in life.

View from my patio

When I give thanks daily for the warm December mornings and for the early signs of growth on my beloved orchids, you know that I’m thrilled to be living here in Florida.         

Fotógrafo Invitado: Steve Roth

El segundo de mi serie de “Fotógrafos invitados” es Steve Roth, miembro del Boynton Beach Camera Club. He tenido el privilegio de ser miembro de BBCC desde 2015 cuando me retiré de la práctica de la pediatría. Dado que he aprendido mucho del club sobre cómo mejorar mis habilidades fotográficas, decidí presentar los asombrosos logros de otros miembros.

En su vida profesional anterior, Steve fue arquitecto en el área de Miami. Creció en Nueva York, pero vino a Miami a mediados de la década de 1960. Se mudó al condado de Palm Beach en 2007 y, además de la fotografía, sigue activo jugando al golf.

Cuando Steve me envió 15 de sus imágenes favoritas para elegir mis favoritas, me pareció una tarea difícil. Su estilo muestra una edición de precisión con atención al más mínimo detalle en el uso de la luz natural.

Dahlia Bonita

“Dahlia Bonita” luce los detalles de los pétalos de una flor ligeramente blanquecina. A menudo es difícil mantener un enfoque perfecto en un primer plano de una flor, pero Steve lo logra muy bien.

Madre e Hijo

“Madre e hijo” fue tomada en Bali. Los macacos que deambulan libremente por la isla son excelentes sujetos. Me encanta este retrato de la madre con su bebé aferrado a ella porque ambos miran directamente al fotógrafo.

Mercado Flotante Tailandés

La captura de Steve del proveedor en el “mercado flotante tailandés” muestra su capacidad para posicionarse físicamente para lograr el máximo impacto fotográfico.

Niña de las Flores Vietnamita

Su imagen de la “Niña de las Flores Vietnamita” capta la calidez de una típica escena callejera con flores de colores brillantes que contrarrestan la blancura pura de su vestido.

Madre y Recién Llegado

En “Madre y Recién Llegado”, Steve ha atrapado al polluelo de garza recién nacido bajo la atenta mirada de su madre.

Estudiante Camboyana

Mi foto favorita del portafolio de Steve es su retrato de una niña camboyana en su salón de clases. Esta imagen, tomada con la luz disponible a través de una ventana abierta, cuenta una hermosa historia de la atención de un estudiante a su maestra.

Steve gana muchas de las competencias mensuales en nuestro club de cámaras. Constantemente se merece las puntuaciones más altas y nos muestra constantemente su gama completa de temas fotográficos.

Quiero agradecer a Steve Roth por permitirme entrevistarlo para mi blog. Mi próximo fotógrafo invitado será Herb Zaifert.

Guest Photographer: Steve Roth

The second in my series of “Guest Photographers” is Steve Roth, a fellow member of the Boynton Beach Camera Club.  I have had the privilege of being a member in BBCC since 2015 when I retired from practicing pediatrics.  Since I have learned so much from the club about improving my photographic skills, I decided to feature the amazing accomplishments of other members.

In his previous professional life, Steve was an architect in the Miami area.   He grew up in New York but came down to Miami in the mid-1960s.  He moved to Palm Beach County in 2007 and in addition to photography, remains active playing golf. 

When Steve sent me 15 of his favorite images to choose my favorites, I found it to be a difficult task.   His style displays precision editing with attention to the finest detail in his use of natural light. 

Beautiful Dahlia

“Beautiful Dahlia” shows off the details of the petals of a slightly off-white flower.   It is often difficult to maintain perfect focus in a close-up of a flower, but Steve pulls it off very well.

Mother and Child

“Mother and Child” was taken in Bali.  The macaques freely roaming throughout the island are excellent subjects.  I love this portrait of the mother with her baby clinging to her because both are staring straight at the photographer. 

Thai Floating Market

Steve’s capture of the vendor in the “Thai Floating Market” shows his ability to physically position himself to achieve the utmost photographic impact. 

Vietnamese Flower Girl

His image of the “Vietnamese Flower Girl” catches the warmth of a typical street scene with the brightly colored flowers offsetting the pure whiteness of her dress.

Mother and New Arrival

In “Mother and New Arrival,” Steve has caught the newly hatched heron chick under the careful eye of his mother. 

Cambodian Student

My favorite picture from Steve’s portfolio is his portrait of a Cambodian girl in her schoolroom.  This image, taken with available light through an open window, tells a beautiful story of a student’s attention to her teacher.

Steve wins many of the monthly competitions in our camera club.  He consistently deserves the highest scores and is constantly showing us his full range of photographic subjects. 

I want to thank Steve Roth for allowing me to interview him for my blog.  My next guest photographer will be Herb Zaifert. 

¡He vuelto!

Después de un descanso muy necesario de escribir dos y, a veces, tres publicaciones cada semana durante un año, ¡he vuelto!

Este jueves, presentaré el talento fotográfico de Steve Roth en mi serie continua de “Fotógrafos Invitados”.

Durante los próximos meses, también escribiré sobre mi reciente viaje a Panamá, el primer viaje al extranjero en casi dos años.

Espero poder compartir con ustedes algunas de mis experiencias mientras disfruto de la vida en el sur de Florida. También disfrutaré dándoles un vistazo a un país que, sorprendentemente, no se encuentra en un lugar destacado en las listas de “visitas obligadas” de muchos viajeros.

¡Manténganse al tanto!

I’m Back!

After a well-needed break from writing two and sometimes three posts every week for a year, I’m back!

This Thursday, I will feature the photographic talent of Steve Roth in my continuing series of “Guest Photographers.”

Over the next few months, I will also be writing about my recent trip to Panama, the first trip abroad in almost two years. 

I’m looking forward to sharing with you some of my experiences while I enjoy life in South Florida. I will also enjoy giving you a glimpse into a country which is surprisingly not high up on many travelers’ “must see” lists. 

Stay tuned!