Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Talks, Thanks, Tributes and Tears

Photo by Bob McConville, Master Naturalist:Clouds gather over the mangrove trees in Big Cypress Preserve. Will it rain? Come find outon November 16th!

Photo by Bob McConville, Master Naturalist:Clouds gather over the mangrove trees in Big Cypress Preserve. Will it rain? Come find outon November 16th!

Stepping Stones

Bob McConville

Master Naturalist      

What makes it rain on Marco Island? Does the Everglades ecosystem play a part in this? Which clouds are rain makers and which are not? These questions will be answered by my guest speaker on November 16th at Rose History Auditorium. A National Park Service Ranger, Luke Gommerman has traveled to various countries to study this phenomenon and is a great storyteller. Be there at
7 PM to hear his presentation.

This is the last publication of the Coastal Breeze News prior to Thanksgiving Day, so I’d like to take this opportunity to be grateful for people around me.

First of all, thank you to Val Simon of the Coastal Breeze for allowing me to contribute an article for public viewing. When I completed the Florida Naturalist program a few years ago I asked for, and was granted, the chance to share my experience in writing. Val requested that I submit some information about area wildlife and habitats and I have been more than happy to continue a regular column with this great staff.

I also want to thank my workmates on the Dolphin Explorer. As a naturalist for this dolphin survey team I am privileged to be on the water three or four days a week with the likes of Captain Michael, Captain Bob, Captain Chris and naturalist Kent. In addition to tracking and monitoring the behavior of these mammals (not the crew…the dolphins) we combine our work with an ecotour to educate the public about our area and the wildlife that calls it home.

I’ve had the good fortune to create my own business, Stepping Stone Ecotours, and to share with people from all over the world how the Everglades was formed and the importance of this very sensitive ecosysytem. As a bonus it’s always fun to see the gators, eagles, herons, hawks and other critters that pop up along the way. (We saw our first baby gators of the season just a few weeks ago). I’m thankful to have Florida Naturalist Stephanie Lyons on my team this year as well. Her passion and enthusiasm are second to none, and she truly enjoys sharing her training with the public.

In a very special tribute, let me tell you about my wife Cathy. She has been a nurse for her entire career dating back to…well let’s just say it’s been a long time. Many nurses coming into the job force today are very book savvy. Cathy not only has the professional knowledge, but she still shows that special compassion for her patients that is a rare commodity nowadays. She is very unique in that respect.

Not only is she my wife, but my best friend as well. Together we’ve hiked and rafted, hand in hand, from the East Coast to the West. I always enjoy those special moments when she becomes so spiritual, sitting on a ledge at Cathedral Rock staring at forever, or stopping in a forest when no one else is around and appreciating the sounds of silence. She seems to be lost in her emotions, yet found at the same time. Of the roads and rivers we’ve travelled together, the path of life has been the most special journey. I love you, Cathy.

Talks and thanks and tributes and, yes, the occasional tear, but they are joyful tears. I am ever thankful for the opportunities that have come my way and I embrace the next adventures along the way. These will not be obstacles, but stepping stones that lead to the “next big thing.”

I always appreciate the feedback from those who read my column (it’s nice to know someone other than my wife reads this column) and I wish all of you the same happiness that I have enjoyed. Many thanks to you, and may you all have special reasons to be grateful!

Bob is the owner of Stepping Stone Ecotours and a naturalist on board the Dolphin Explorer. Please visit for more information. Bob loves his wife very much! 

Exploring Our Clouds

Join Bob at 7 PM on November 16th at the Rose History Auditorium for a talk about the “Mountains of Big Cypress.” We all know there are no mountains, but the clouds that form there do create that appearance. Special guest speaker Luke Gommerman will talk about these formations, what makes it rain here and the importance of the grass prairies. Pictures and paintings from several local artists will be on display that evening as well.


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