A Worthy Coastline Pause

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. ” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Imagine a vast Everglades of primitive swamp wilderness transformed in a little over one hundred years into a dense urban megalopolis called South Florida. Nowadays, close to ten million people reside along this narrow strip of land stretching north to south in Palm Beach , Broward, and Dade County along the southeast coast of Florida. Envision further a heavy infiltration of visitors and part time residents from northeastern U.S. states, French Canadian Quebec and various other Latin American countries each winter-spring times in south Florida during what’s commonly called “The Season.” Thus begins the mad scramble of human competition to enjoy our coastal sun, sea, and air amenities for these four to six months of the year. So for this longtime Fort Lauderdale resident, you might understand why I diligently search during “The Season” to find accessible spots for peace and quiet along this congested beachfront coastline.

Consider as well my reasoning for making a first time visit last week to the “Bonnet House Estate and Museum, a historic landmark of notable interest within the popular Fort Lauderdale beach district of Fort Lauderdale. In one sense, Bonnet House estate’s thirty five acre “protected” expanse of lush tropical vegetation and gently rising sand dune formations functions most prominently as as one of the few remaining coastal “protected” areas in Broward County to buffer urbanized areas westward from feeling the destructive effects of our annual hurricane season. Yet this so named barrier island encounter on my day trip felt so much much more to me than a dividing juncture to block wind or rain disaster inland. For as I casually strolled this unique oasis showcasing so many artistic, architectural, and ecological gems along this self guided trail, I’d realized that I’d also stumbled upon a special place to relax amid nature away from the “maddening crowd.” Some upcoming nature events to be held in 2022 at the Bonnet Complex that “caught my attention” included the Orchid & Garden Festival, a “forest bathing” walk” and various birdwatching classes.

At first entry to the Bonnet Museum Complex, this conspicuous signpost revealed the historical significance of the landmark originally built for the original owners Frederick and Evelyn Bartlett in the 1920s.
At the Welcome Center, I downloaded on my I phone an audio tour to learn more information about the various spots specified on the tour map to visit along my self guided route.
Notice the steady encroachment of “high rise” residential development surrounding the private Bonnet property.
At an area called the Experimental Grove, I relaxed under the pleasing shade of various fruit trees lying atop the protected dunes.
This curious iguana did not seem bothered my human presence at a nearby picnic table.
The freshwater lagoon known as Bonnet Slough provided plenty of binocular action for me to spot birds and various aquatic animals.
The striking blue and white pavilion spot observed today marked a historic place where weddings, movies, and celebrity photo shots have happened over the years.
Notice this massive Banyan Tree better known as the “Tree of Life” still standing prominently as I crossed through the coastal hammock.
This dense “Hardwood” tree hammock forming the easterly boundary of the Bonnet Estate functions as a wall of natural growth separation to buffer the property from the ravages of tidal erosion, and tropical winds and rain.
Bonnet’s famous orchid collection lies in this inviting ” Greenhouse” , opening for private tours only.
A dramatic crossover of the lagoon over a Seminole Indian Chickee Bridge led to the Bonnet Mansion. 
This yellow building originally used as servant worker quarters at the Bonnet Estate now houses the Museum Shop.
The official entrance to the Bonnet House Mansion on my tour took place through a spacious courtyard functioning as a lush tropical garden.
The walls of the mansion courtyard showcased an extensive interest in animal artwork and aesthetic appreciation of nature.
The interior rooms of the mansion revealed a Bartlett family’s taste for music, art, and literary enjoyment

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