Here comes the season of nature shows

Easter is over, but there’s still a funny bunny that my wife the Binmeister named Bertram is hopping around in Rooney Bin’s garden.

Pink petunias are in full bloom in the front yard. Roses and azaleas are also included.

Prior to the 14th century, the season was only known as Lent. According to one theory, it was renamed spring because that’s when plants seem to spring from the ground. Indeed, spring has arrived at the Bin, and no one could be happier than Binmeister, who happily hops around spreading mulch and feeding plants, while talking to talkative squirrels and chirping birds looking for nesting places.

The first day of spring has officially arrived on March 20, but April is the month of Easter bunnies and silly celebrations that start with April Fool’s Day and include the month of holy humor. Have you heard of the sacred cow? He was a legendary milkman. National Columnists Day is the 18th (send commendations to [email protected]). April 29 is National Hairball (Cough, Cough) Awareness Day and today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day.

How to speak like Shakespeare? Say “tu” for you and “tien” for yours. Attach an “-eth” or “-est” to the end of verbs, such as “he runs” instead of he ran. And try speaking in rhyming couplets. Let me know how it works. If that’s too much for you, wait until April 25 and call your plumber to celebrate Hug a Plumber Day. I love Bin’s plumber/handyman, aka Binmeister.

autism forum

With Danielle Wright (left to right) and her non-verbal autistic son Brady, author of

April is a month of promise and hope, as attendees learned at a forum on April 6 hosted by the Friends of Ponte Vedra Beach Library. “It’s National Autism Acceptance Month,” said Librarian Amy Ring. She presented a book “Hostage to Silence”, written by Brady Wright and illustrated by Gentry Groshell, both on the non-verbal autism spectrum. “This book opened up a world that I didn’t know existed,” Ring said.

Leslie Weed, founder of HEAL Foundation (help enrich the lives of people with autism) spoke about her journey to help her daughter Lanire communicate. Lanire (now 24) stopped walking and talking when she was 3 years old. Leslie traveled the country in search of a solution and discovered facilitated typing which opened up her daughter’s world. Then Leslie and her husband Bobby formed the HEAL Foundation to fund camps for autistic kids. HEAL has raised about $5 million to give schools iPads and big trikes that make movement easier.

Marcus Sowcik, director of BridgeHaven Academy at Ponte Vedra Beach, explained how middle and high school students in BridgeHaven type to communicate. “We follow their example; we’re listening. It is beyond words that help them communicate,” he said.

“She leads the way; we follow,” agreed Amy Groshell, mother of Gentry, who communicates by typing on the iPad. “The first word she typed with me was ‘hope.’ His first full sentence was, “I love my mother; she is my hope. Amy knew that “if Gentry could communicate, others could. Something in my soul told me that this kid is smart. These people hold the key to unlocking these brilliant minds.

Amy and her husband, Howard, built the Peace of Heart Home on Roscoe Boulevard for young adults with autism. The house has a garden which provides income and vocational training for its residents. It is also open on Saturday mornings to sell fresh produce to the community. To find out more, visit

Danielle Wright chimed in to share how her son Brady came to write ‘Hostage to Silence’, captioned ‘I Know I’m Heard’.

“Brady has an incredible memory. It took 13 years, but we finally found it. He discovers poetry, and wants to tell his story. We had Gentry to illustrate it. This book took five years to make,” Wright said.

Copies are available at the cash desk in the Ponte Vedra Library.

Classic cars and barbecue

Norman Dize (left) and Pastor John Shultz stood next to a pink Cadillac that was in the classic car show to benefit One Church Jacksonville Beach.  Fundraising also included a "car-be-que."

No, it wasn’t Elvis you saw driving a pink Cadillac down Third Street. He was a member of the Cadillac Kings club, heading to One Church Jacksonville Beach at 324 Fifth St. N. for a classic car show and car-be-que. There’s always something going on in Jacksonville Beach, but April 2 was especially fun. About 50 shopping carts and other cars from the past showed up for the attraction which raised money to benefit the Southern Baptist Church children’s camp.

“We go out and meet,” said Nick Dize, son of event coordinator Norman Dize, who was busy directing the classic cars into the parking spaces. The pink Cadillac and a blue “woodie” wagon with surfboards on top were my favorites. People who came to see the cars donated $10 and enjoyed 60s music and a dinner of chicken, pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw. Local stores donated food and about 50 volunteers participated. A painting of Elvis’ shopping cart by a parishioner was up for auction.

“We held this event last year as an outing from COVID,” said Pastor John Shultz. “It’s just a fun time for people to come out and talk and engage our community. This puts us on the map.

Springing the Blooms Festival

Things were also moving a few streets further south, at the Beaches Museum. The museum was “Springing the Blooms”. Master gardeners wearing butterfly wing capes talked about monarch butterflies and “vertical gardening” and helped young people harvest carrots in the museum’s historic Pablo Park garden. Guest speaker Terry DelValle gave a talk on butterfly life cycles and JoAnne Krestul gave a presentation on vertical gardening.

The Sea Turtle Patrol was on hand to answer questions about the turtles that nest on our beaches, while Coastal Quilters from Northeast Florida displayed and demonstrated their craftsmanship and invited guests to design their own quilts. Nassau County beekeepers showed off an active hive and offered honey samples. Youngsters played drums and guitar on the lower porch of the historic foreman’s house, while inside Mayport Station visitors were mesmerized by the working train layout operated by the members of the Beaches Train Club.

Canvases & Cocktails

Bart Woloson displayed a variety of his artworks - ceramics, woodcarvings and paintings - at the Sawgrass Country Club Canvas and Cocktails Art Exhibit and Sale.

The Sawgrass Country Club hosted a Canvas and Cocktails night featuring local Sawgrass artists and serving a welcome cocktail aptly named “Mona Lisa”. Artwork for display and sale by 25 artists ranged from watercolors and oils to ceramics, photography, silk paintings and wood carvings.

According to artist Marge Monteith, who co-chaired the event with artists Sue Foley and Robert Nickerson, the three-day show attracted “a full house, it was packed, Friday night when it opened and attracted lots of traffic the following days.. Everyone loved the first night when we got free food and drink.

Artist Marge Monteith helped organize the Canvas and Cocktails art exhibit at Sawgrass Country Club.  She was also among the 25 artists who took part in the show.

*The last word …

April has its drawbacks. Tornadoes are more common in the spring. Taxes are due mid-April and April 18-22 is cleaning week for a reason. There are many reasons to spring clean, but should we make it official? Well, as Leo Tolstoy said, “Spring is the time of plans and projects. So follow the example of the Binmeister and go for it!

Jackie Rooney is a freelance writer living in Ponte Vedra Beach. Contact her at [email protected]