Monday, December 13, 2010

Fort Myers, Florida

Sunday we worshiped at Lamb of God Church (an Episcopal Lutheran Congregation ), part of it is pictured above. The church above is called the Arbor, and another church used by the congregation near it is called the Vineyard.  Two traditional services are held in the Arbor and one contemporary service is held in the Vineyard each Sunday. They have a rather large complex which includes a building for a preschool. The church also has a thrift store in another part of the community, and provides meals for the homeless. It seems to have an active socially caring ministry. Near the church is a produce stand and garden operated by another church in the community. I was surprised to discover that  this stand was selling all the vegetables which we missed this past summer in Alaska!  Strawberries, tomatoes and corn had just been picked that morning. And Saturday we found a Florida citrus produce stand where we were able to purchase oranges and grapefruits.
Sunday afternoon we drove over to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates, which are located next to each other in Fort Myers. Both places are now museums opened to the public. The largest banyan tree in the continental United States is located on the grounds of the Edison home. It was given to him in 1925 by Harvey Firestone. It was then only four feet tall, now it is about a hundred feet tall and an acre in diameter. Edison was concerned about domestic production of rubber and his home in Florida was the location of his research for this product. The banyan tree produces a white milky sap which can be used to create rubber. Below is only a small part of the tree. The banyan drops down roots which then produce another tree. That is how this tree has grown over the past 85 years. John and I first saw this tree when we were in Hawaii.
The Thomas Edison house has been all decorated for Christmas, which you can see in the picture below. The Edison family lived here for several winter months each year from 1886-1947.
Mrs. Edison loved orchids, and had them brought in from all over the world to be planted in the rows of mango trees which are located in front of both the Edison and Ford homes. This became known as "Orchid Lane". Not many of the orchids are blooming at this time of the year, but I did find a few of them.
As perhaps you may notice looking at the pictures, our day started sunny and warm. A cold front came through in the afternoon with a couple of rain showers. Amazingly we were still able to tour the two estates, the grounds as well as the homes. We also saw a building on Edison's estate which once housed his botanic research laboratory that supported the endeavor of producing a  quick growing domestic source of natural rubber. Eventually Edison discovered that the goldenrod plant proved to be the best natural source for producing rubber.

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