Skip to main content

Head in the Clouds: Amazing Summers, Things Above & Below Our Feet

Jun 26, 2017 01:43PM, Published by Kevin, Categories: Times of the Islands


Photo by Capt. Brian Holaway.


Gallery: Out & About: Head in the Clouds - July/August 2017 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.



Photo by Capt. Brian Holaway.

Southwest Florida summer weather is here, along with all the beauty that comes with it―rain, clouds, lightning, flowering plants, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, rainbows, spectacular sunsets and warm water.

Afternoon summer clouds are stunning, dangerous, ever-changing and beautiful, a photographer’s dream and a boater’s nightmare, forming as heat rises over the Everglades. Marjory Stoneman Douglas once said that “there are no other Everglades in the world.” Well, take that into consideration when you think of the wild weather patterns we get here in the summer. The heat rises over the vast expanse of the Florida Everglades and the clouds start to build, head a little farther to the north then out towards the barrier islands of Southwest Florida. We can watch these cumulonimbus clouds grow from 2,000 feet at the base to over 10,000 feet, sometimes in minutes. Boating guidance about building and bubbling cumulonimbus clouds is “when in doubt, chicken out,” advice from the late Captiva fishing guide Butch Cottrill.

The cumulonimbus cloud at its apex starts to let out moisture at a rapid rate, sometimes at a sideways angle with a sting. The storms come on fast and leave fast. Then all is still on the water and the smell of the fresh rain fills the air.

Photo by Capt. Brian Holaway.

Plant life immediately starts to utilize the moisture of a huge drink of afternoon rain. The two plants that I find amazing in this process are sea oats and beach morning glory, also known as railroad vine. Both are dune plants, also called pioneer plants because they are so hardy in a salty and high energy area of the beach. The root structure and rhizomes of sea oats (Uniola paniculata) help stabilize beaches by capturing drifting sand. Sea oats is one of the first protected plants because of its ability to help create and keep the natural beach. The railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae) has a beautiful purple flower, is one of the most important dune plants in Southwest Florida, its long vine literally growing overnight after the rain. The stems that grow on the beach can sprawl perpendicular to the dune and help trap sand, helping to create new beach and habitat for other dune plants such as sea oats.

All of this beauty is going on right under your feet and in the sky. I hope you get a chance to enjoy the beauty of summer weather in Southwest Florida. Whether it is the sky painted by the clouds, the sand gathered around an outstretched railroad vine or watching the wispy sea oats swaying back and forth on a secluded beach, whatever you do, just get out there in the wild.

Written by Captain Brian Holaway, a Florida master naturalist and is a Southwest Florida shelling, wildlife and eco-tour guide. His boat charters visit the barrier islands and beaches of Pine Island Sound, including Cayo Costa State Park, Cabbage Key, Pine Island and North Captiva. 

Photo by Capt. Brian Holaway.




nature Outdoors july-august clouds capt. brian holaway out & about


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    09/22/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Mangrove Maze Eco-Tour

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM

    Guided exploration of the mangrove wilderness on part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail....


  • Mirror, Mirror... Exhibition

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Mirror, Mirror… September 1 - 28, 2017 Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 2017, 6pm-8pm C...


  • Sunset Kayak Eco-Tour

    09/22/2017
    03:30PM

    Paddle Matlacha Pass meandering through mangrove shrouded trails. Guides are ACA Certified Kayak ...


  • Step Up to Art

    09/22/2017
    04:00PM — 05:30PM

    Come join fine artist Kathy Dunn in this new and exciting art series for your growing artists! Ch...


  • Sunset Celebration at Times Square

    09/22/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Live Music, Food and Fun at Time Square on Fort Myers Beach


  • Craving Fashion 2017

    09/22/2017
    05:30PM — 08:00PM

    Join us on September 22nd from 5:30pm-8:00pm for our 5th annual Craving Fashion. This food and fa...


  • Ladies' Night at The Paint Escape

    09/22/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    09/22/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • Into the Woods

    09/22/2017
    09:00PM

    James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite storybook characters and bring them to...


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    09/25/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Sanibel Shell Crafters

    09/25/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Visit The Sanibel Shell Crafters every Monday all year long from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. to watch this d...


  • Mangrove Maze Eco-Tour

    09/25/2017
    10:00AM

    Guided exploration of the mangrove wilderness on part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail....


  • Mirror, Mirror... Exhibition

    09/25/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Mirror, Mirror… September 1 - 28, 2017 Opening Reception: Friday, September 1, 2017, 6pm-8pm C...


  • Sunset Kayak Eco-Tour

    09/25/2017
    03:30PM

    Paddle Matlacha Pass meandering through mangrove shrouded trails. Guides are ACA Certified Kayak ...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    09/25/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    09/25/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    09/25/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    10/02/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    10/09/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...