SHOTDance of the albatrossKenneth S. Munson...


July 18, 1999


Dance of the albatross

Kenneth S. Munson, Baltimore

"My wife and I first met the albatross on tiny Sand Island in Midway Atoll, a wildlife refuge in the North Pacific managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The most fascinating display is put on by the adolescents, who don't mate until they are 6 or 7 years old but must learn and perfect the elaborate mating dance in the meantime. They clack their beaks as they approach each other, alternately bobbing up and down. Then they touch beaks on both sides and stand on their tiptoes, stretching their necks high in the air and let out a loud squeal. On into the night, we could hear the sounds of their practicing."


Music of the carillons

Sylvia Rumer


When I was 15, I went to Florida with my best friend and her family. We visited many of the tourist attractions of the day but the one that impressed me most was Bok Tower.

In May of this year, my husband and I visited Florida. I was eager to again see the tower. I couldn't help but wonder if it had changed after so many years -- had it become too commercial? As we drove into the parking area, it was a relief to see that the only change was the addition of a visitors center.

Edward Bok left his native Holland at age 6 to come with his family to America. As he left, his grandmother told him, "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it." He never forgot her words.

Bok became editor of several popular magazines. In 1922 he purchased some land near Lake Wales. At 298 feet, it was the highest in peninsular Florida. He asked renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. to transform the area "into a sanctuary that would touch the soul with its beauty and quiet, an island of tranquillity."

Bok added a carillon tower in 1929. The tower, 205 feet high, was designed by Milton Medary and constructed of pink and gray Georgia marble and Florida coquina stone. Inside are the carillons, weighing from 17 pounds to more than 11 tons. Recitals are given every day at 3 o'clock, and recordings of the bells are played every half hour.

As my husband and I began our walk up the winding path to the tower, we could hear the songs of the birds; the sweet smell of flowers filled the warm May afternoon air.

Bok Tower is in a grove of oak trees with Spanish moss hanging from the branches. The pink and yellowish tinged tower was built near a reflection pool. A small moat surrounds the tower, which is not open to the public. As we sat on a bench to listen to the music of the bells, we gazed upon the beauty of Bok Tower and its exquisite gardens. We felt transported into another world. I reflected that Edward Bok couldn't have given a more serene and lovely gift to the American people. Could he have envisioned that we who live at the end of the 20th century would more than ever need an island of tranquillity? Bok Tower will always remain one of my favorite places, a place I wish to visit again and again.

Sylvia Rumer lives in Baltimore.



Jeffrey Luzwick, Columbia

"My first volksmarch was in East Berlin, Pa. We walked 11 kilometers, nearly 7 miles. We saw historic buildings in the town, a mill and plenty of scenery. Near East Berlin is Abbottstown, which has a great German restaurant."


Susan Hodges, Baltimore

"From my personal experiences, there's no place on earth quite as ruggedly beautiful and breathtaking as the spectacular Highlands of Scotland. Through each season, the enchantment of the misty glens, silver lochs and steep, cragged mountains with their caps of billowing clouds awe-inspires the visitor."


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Pub Date: 07/18/99

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