Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Poisonous Bean Creates Quite a Stir

Saturday February 13-Monday February 15, 2016                               Most Recent Posts:
Highlands Hammock State Park                                                     Our Interesting Neighbors and the Young Hammock
Sebring, Florida                                                                                Scamp Camp’s Open House – Looking Inside


 Looks like lots of folks missed the Hawk romance shots and thus won’t be able to pass the quiz.  It’s not too late.  Just use the first link above to the Young Hammock post.  It’s blue.

For those who were there, here’s the quiz.  Without looking back at the last post, what is your favorite way to tell a Sable Palm from a Saw Palmetto?

Back to the bean excitement and important information……….




As with most week-ends, we lay low during this one.  I spend the day working out the ideal plan for this summer with all the stops and campgrounds so that IF we can figure out how to get David’s treatments, we MIGHT be able to head up to Niagara Falls and spend the summer in the Finger Lakes and Vermont. 

Having a serious illness as a full timer is a major challenge unless you just want to pick a place and stay put but, at least for me, that isn’t what fulltiming is about.  It’s about traveling and visiting the beautiful Natural Areas of our country while we still have them.

In the evening, we attend a very interesting talk on the insects here in Highlands Hammock.  Because this area has been preserved for such a long time, those species who need old growth forests make their homes here including lots of insects.

It is a beautiful night for sitting around the campfire listening to stories of ants and butterflies, roaches (well maybe not roaches), bees and wasps among others.  We are lucky and get a spot up near the front so we can see and enjoy the campfire.

Most National Parks have ranger talks on week-ends during their season but few state parks do.  It’s just another thing we like about Highlands Hammock.





Image result for rosary bean

Today is laundry day and there is quite a stir.  When I come over there is one other woman there and she is very riled up about finding what she calls a Rosary Bean in the laundry tub. 

She thought it was lint and picked it up but she knew when she looked at it that it was this very poisonous bean and she threw it into the grass outside the laundry.   She’s washed and dried her hands twice and has a complete fit when I start to use the laundry tub and put my hand inside to soak up some water in the top.  She’s convinced we are both going to be poisoned through our skin.  She’s read that people have died from wearing the jewelry made from these pretty beans. She insists that I have to wash and dry my hands twice.  I do and then I slip away, go get my laptop, look up the bean and bring the information on my laptop back over to her. 

I find the bean has a very hard seed so unless it is cracked you don’t have to worry.  You can even swallow it should you be so stupid and as long as you don’t bite it and crack it, it will pass right through.  She’s spread the alarm all over to everyone who has come up to the bathroom and soon one of the volunteers shows up and then the ranger who finds the bean and reassures her it is not broken.  He’s running it through his fingers and she chastizes him.   The whole thing is hilarious although, it is true that these beans are very poisonous and the park is trying to irradicate them.  The bean pictures are courtesy of Wikipedia.


Image result for rosary bean

My point in relating this exciting laundry episode is to show you the seed and warn you not to pick it despite how attractive it is and if you have children or grandchildren educate them about the ‘abrus precatorius’ also known as jequirity, Crab's eye,  rosary bean, rosary pea, precatory pea or bean, John Crow Bead, and Indian licorice.

It’s slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. The plant is best known for its seeds which are used as beads in jewelry and in percussion instruments.  They are toxic due to the presence of Abrin. The plant is native to India and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world where it has been introduced. Here in Florida it is quite invasive. 

The end of the story is that the ranger tells her heat will kill the toxins so she put her two loads of laundry in each of the two dryers and runs them both twice at the hottest temperature.  That’s a total of an hour and a half in the dryer.  Meanwhile, my clothes are sitting in the washer waiting and others are backing up behind me.  It made for a very long laundry morning for me.  I did not dry mine twice and I have not died from the poison.   Even though I’m still alive, there will be no quiz.

The afternoon is spent enjoying the lovely temperatures in the 70’s and organizing where might be the closest city with a cancer clinic to the places we hope to go and what doctor can David contact to see if he will be willing to administer this chemotherapy.  All this before we can even make reservations and time is passing.  Hope we don’t get closed out.




Every Monday morning a volunteer naturalist leads a hike on one of the park’s trails.  This week it’s on the Swamp Walk with which we are very familiar.  We meet up with about 30 people who are split into two groups for the hike.  Most folks drive over.  This hike has the most parking spots.  David and I bike over so we arrive right on time and are in the second group




Right away Brian points out a jack in the pulpit that neither David nor I noticed when we were here previously.  The real benefit to doing guided hikes is being with someone knowledgable who shares my love of the natural world and has great scanning skills for finding things I might otherwise miss.



Not sure how they will ever replace this board now that the cypress has claimed it.



We are almost to the single boardwalk when a flock of Ibis flies in overhead.  I’m too slow to get them in the air but it is a wonderful experience watching them swoop in as a group and land to begin walking along feeding in the swamp.





Opposite the Ibis on the opposite side of the boardwalk and the little lake is a single Great White Egret.




We walk around the lake.






Our coming toward the the egret causes him to fly.  He joins the ibis who have migrated around behind us.  It reminds me of the different types of people I know.  Some are most comfortable in a group, the bigger the better.  Others tend to be more solitary and join groups once in a while.  The egret doesn’t stay long.  Rather like me at a cocktail party.



As we head on around the boardwalk, someone with a great eye and good binoculars spots this alligator out of the water but way back in the swamp.  This is the best picture I can get of him but unlike most years, he is the first gator we’ve seen here and we are now in our second week at Highlands.






On our bike back to the rig, David has to stop at the access to his favorite orange and grapefruit trees.  I find the oranges more bitter than the grapefruit so I don’t accept his offer to share the only orange he finds.




The Scampers have left over the week-end and we have some new neighbors.  This one just makes me laugh.  We call him Bill Junior as he seems to be always tidying up and cleaning the windows, the rims, and even his tow dolly.  But he loses that name and becomes Mr. Loud Machine when he repeatedly gets out his blower to blow debris that we can’t even see off of his site.  Today we come back and he is blowing off the water from last night’s gentle rain.  There are no puddles, it’s just that his paved pad is wet and he wants it dry, even under his mat.






Our best new neighbor is Judith who pulls into the site in front of us today.  She was not at the Scamp Camp.  I’m not sure if she knew about it but she tells me she comes to Highlands often when she isn’t traveling to see her children in New Jersey and Mississippi.  She has a home in Stuart Florida on the East coast but really loves her little Casita.  Judith is an inspiration.  She’s 87 years old and continues enjoying the road. 



I sure hope I grow up to be like Judith.


  1. We live in Niagara Falls and the best cancer clinic anywhere is Roswell Cancer Clinic in Buffalo....a few miles from NF. We have heard nothing but great things about this clinic since we moved here eight years ago. Hope you find the perfect place for your needs, so you can be free to go where you want to go this summer.

    1. Thank you very much Joyce - I will be sure to contact them for a visit while we are in the area.

  2. I want to be Judith too when I grow up!

  3. Alarmists crack me up! Especially when I am not being inconvenienced by them...I'd probably have been fuming by the antics of the laundry lady.

    What is up with folks who carry a blower in their RV????

  4. Boy, so much excitement! I guess some people are overly cautious. George is very particular about our site, but thank goodness I talked him out of the leaf blower!

  5. Too funny about the bean episode. And nobody was going to convince her otherwise.
    I love meeting people like Judith. It gives me hope for the future!

  6. Judith is an inspiration, thanks for the info on the Bean!

  7. That beautiful flock of ibis in the cypress completely took my mind off the crazy lady and her bean phobia. Still, nice that you put the information out there for folks, in a reasonable way.

  8. Guess this bean isn't such a magical fruit. ;)

  9. One of the palms has sharp leaves and the other has flat - I think the sharp one is the Sable? Hope I can remember that should I have the opportunity to compare them in the future!! The bean lady sounds exhausting. Maybe she and blower man will hook up and they can spend their time worrying about bugs and dirt together :) I do hope you can find an accommodating clinic up north for the summer, it really sucks that you have to plan around them, and yet such a blessing that the treatments are available. Thank you for sharing your time in the swamp, I can't wait to visit these amazing places!!

  10. Saw palmetto has orange berries?

    Interesting info about the bean. I could see where they might be a problem around kids.

    I hope I'm like Judith too. Good for her.

  11. Thanks for the information on the beans. Well, at least laundry day turned out to be memorable:) People can be so over the top! What a pain!

    I like how the cypress grew over the railing. It will be interesting to return in a few years to see how it is going.

    Blowers should not be allowed in the park for anyone, even those working there. With our modern technology you would think someone could come up with a quiet blower.

  12. A whole ibis party! Cool! You should've put the bean in your mouth (once you knew it wasn't harmful unless cracked) and really freaked that lady out! She must've shrunk all of her clothing drying it on high twice! Don't worry, you'll be like Judith- xxxooo

  13. Your bean story is so funny, and kudos to you for bringing up the correct information. I'm too laid-back, I guess, as I usually just leave the crazy people to themselves :-).

  14. That's the first time I've heard of that kind of bean. All those ibises are quite a sight!

  15. I'll be keeping a close eye on the bean pot for these devils to be sure none make their way in there like they did into the washing machine.

  16. I've seen that bean! It's striking when you see it. Great story about it. Also loved hearing about Judith.

  17. I haven't figured out why anyone would want to bring poisonous beans into the laundry room to begin with.

    I love upstate NY and hope you have a delightful summer.

  18. I admire you for wanting to grow up to be just like Judith....Is it to late for me to REFUSE to grow up? I certainly got a chuckle out of the bean incident. :)

  19. I love meeting people like Judith. And I agree with Razzle -- no worries that you'll grow up to be just like her. :-)

  20. Wow, that bean freak-out story is amazing. Thanks for the reasonable perspective on the beans, though -- I've never heard of them and will be sure not to bring some home for a centerpiece, haha! And a guy with a blower?? Seriously?? Other than that, it looks like you enjoyed more wonderful hikes on the beautiful trails. I want to grow up to be like Judith, too. I think you will. :-)

  21. Saw blade edges and V shape at the base. Did I pass? The bean story is hilarious, and that's how rumors get spread. I haven't seen a Jack-in-the-Pulpit in decades. Guided walks are so informative. Am I a little biased? ;) I too want to be like Judith when I grow up. Good luck with the summer plans.

  22. Good grief lady...talk about a freak out. Wow. Well lucky the bean did not split in the washer. I definitely learned something from that story, but my, oh, my did she get in a tizzy! And, the leaf blower perfectionist...? Goodness, humans surely are something to marvel at sometimes. Beautiful birds on your walk and nice fire at the bug talk. I also think you'll be like Judith :)

  23. Love the ibis tribe, and the wonderful cypress patiently/tenaciously growing around the railing, but yes, that bean lady takes the cake! I wonder if she's like that about everything, or if this bean is the one thing that sends her over the edge. What a character!

  24. That poor woman in the laundry, having a family full of individuals who suffer from anxiety I've got to say she is incredibly anxious. What a burden, look at how it disrupted her life and even the lives of strangers.


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