Riderwood inspires resident poet

By Almeda Girod

Resident Writer

In 2015, when Peter and Dorothea Bennett moved from Florida to Riderwood, Peter was “captivated by the seasonal changes.” They had chosen a balcony apartment overlooking the forested courtyard of Village Square to experience “birds, squirrels, woods, rain, wind, smells, sounds, and colors of nature.” These became the muses for Peter’s recent poetry collection, Encore Seasons.

The book begins:

After fifty years of blissful upsizing

A decade of equalizing, and minor trimming—

Now, agonizing, wrenching, downsizing,

Saying goodbye to piano, books, paintings

For our encore retirement move.

The poems, through the lens of a biologist, reflect Peter’s belief that “both the arts and sciences inform our experiences and our appreciation of the unending exploration of nature.”

Peter is now “on perpetual sabbatical, writing as an independent scholar and poet. He is the author of many scientific articles and ten books, as well as poems and poetry books.”

Growing up in Florida, Peter enjoyed snakes, insects, birds, fossils, and plants when he hiked and camped; the public library was his sanctuary. His parents and teachers were his supporters and mentors in his ventures.

A chemistry graduate of Florida State University, Peter received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Rockefeller University — where he met fellow student Dorothea — and served as an assistant professor at Harvard, before returning to Florida State University in Tallahassee as Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences. Later, he served as Acting Executive Vice President.

Peter segued into the museum world as President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. After a decade, returning to Florida, he joined the University of Florida in Gainesville as Professor, Dean, and Director of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Ten years later, Peter became President of Science Service and the publisher of Science News. He commuted to Washington, DC, before joining the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, eventually retiring as Emeritus Director.

His recent writings include The Legacy: South Florida Museum (2006), Hike On (2008), and Florida Explored: The Philadelphia Connection in Bartram’s Tracks (in press).

Peter expresses “a feeling of continued opportunity to have a vibrant existence” as he and Dorothea enjoy their encore retirement years at Riderwood.

Encore Seasons is available from Goose River Press, bookstores, online retailers, and in the Village Square Library.

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