Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

River Rise, River Fall

A horse trail at River Rise.

Two curious deer.
I took a solo trip to River Rise State Park which is where the Santa Fe finally emerges from its underground lair.  It's a pretty strange thing to see.  One moment you have a forest of hardwood and saw palmetto and the next moment you have a big dark slow-moving river.
I found this fire-hollowed stump as I blazed my way to the Santa Fe.

A large group of cup or ear mushrooms, but I can't figure out the species.
I started my journey with a bit of confusion.  When I arrived, the park gate was locked.  I figured, "Oh, the hell with it, I'm jumping the fence," and jump the fence I did.  Then I approached an encampment...and yes, I saw movement.  Humans with horses somehow had infiltrated the park and set up a primitive camp with a large stable.  They were living in trailers.

A sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) seed pod.

Where the Santa Fe emerges from the ground.
Soon I realized that I was the only non-equestrian at the park, the only biped sans odd-toed ungulate, and I began to feel self-conscious.  I felt even more self-conscious when I watched some horse people let themselves into the locked gate with a special secret key.  Instead of walking the horse trails I decided to blaze my own trail along the shore of the Santa Fe where the indiginous people wouldn't judge me.

The Santa Fe River, post rise.
I was unable to clearly photographically capture the strange hydrologic events that occur at this park.  As I walked along the shore I heard rough water, and lest we forget, rapids are a rarity in Florida.  The only rapids that I know of in Florida are about 100 yards worth at Big Shoals on the Suwannee River.  What could it be?  As mysteriously as the Santa Fe emerges parts of it just disappear.  I stood before a branch of the river that abruptly flowed underground and disappeared below a slowly churning whirlpool of duckweed.

The rodent-chewed pelvis of some small woodland creature. 

River Rise...River Fall.
The equestrian types that I met were quite pleasant and treated me as an equal (I was just missing a vital part).  I'm still not clear if bipeds are really welcome or how you gain access without jumping the damn fence.  Maybe after I'm accepted by the people of River Rise I too will be provided a key to the park...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Florida Freeze

Air from the Arctic has reached Florida and has settled directly over our well pump and pressure tank.  Initially, I ignored the temperatures outside, expecting things to warm up, but instead everything started to freeze.  To remedy the situation we placed some heat lamps over the pipes.  This has been an effective technique and aesthetically interesting. 

We picked our cabbage and they were enjoyable.  They are small cabbage, Farao, specifically.

Charles and I returned to O'leno Park after my recent trip with Gio.  Those are cypress knees on the shore of a sink.  Cypress knees, contrary to popular belief, do not aid in gas exchange, nor do they provide shelter for swamp imps or produce St.Elmo's Fire. They are more numerous in areas of loose, muddy soil that floods which suggests that they function as stabilizers which is no surprise...they are roots.

Eveyone likes lichen, especially when it's pink or green and hairy.

 The road to O'Leno.

This is the old Florida seal which is full of inaccuracies that were slowly corrected over the years.  First, notice the young Indian maiden beckoning the steamship. It turns out that she is wearing traditional Apache clothing and doesn't represent Seminole culture.  I did notice that in this unique rendering the maiden is not dropping flowers or wearing a headdress and instead her hand is just pointing...or waving...'come ashore, take our land, do what you will with it, build strip malls as far as the heron flies.'   In the distance you might notice the Great Florida Mountains which have since eroded into the sea.  The palm is the non-native Coconut Palm, which was replaced by the native Sabal Palm.  I guess the steamboat is correct.  In summary, The Official Seal of Florida-In God We Trust can be translated as: Come all steamboaters to Florida where the friendly Apaches will wecome you to explore the mountains and feed you coconuts from the trees they imported from the South Pacific.  Sounds like an interesting vacation.

There was an abundance of birds to watch.  We saw black and white warblers, blue-grey gnatcatchers, bluebirds, wood ducks and palm warblers.  They were quite vocal even with the cool temperatures.  I was able to attract some black and whites using my Audubon Iphone App.  The blue-grey didn't need any coaxing and practically landed on my shoulder.

The duck weed is beginning to die off from the cold weather and mixed flocks were busy collecting insects from surface of the sinks.

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010, Happy New Year.

Phlox bloom in the field, Spring.  
Ten years ago Cymande and I celebrated the New Year in Paris and slept on the floor of a train station finally arriving back at our hotel at 8am.  Ten years later we were in bed at 8pm.  The decade had us in grad school in Boston; living in the semi-idyllic Beverly, Rockport and Gloucester; serving 3 years in the National Health Service Corps in Lake City, FL; and finally deciding to stay on as Pediatric NP's in Lake City.  It wasn't and isn't an easy decision.  We miss our friends, we miss the little things (independently owned restaurants, hills, normal humans, the rocky granite coast) and we have to endure the local culture (revisionist history, Tea Party Morons Magical Thinkers, 6 foot Confederate flags mounted in the beds of pickup trucks, "Southern Heritage," scientific illiteracy, poor fashion sense and poor dental hygiene.)  We miss you New England and San Francisco.  We like to think of OWR as an outpost on the frontier.      

Dogwood blossoms, Spring.
The past year has been a stressful, yet mostly positive, thrill ride for Cymande and I.  We dealt with the psychologic madness, the physical pain and the large sum of cash that is infertility.  My thanks to the amazing and highly competent embryologists, reproductive endcrinologists and nurses that guided our way.  To follow our journey from infertility to a twin pregnancy, (if you haven't already been doing so) I welcome you to the second trimester.  Everyone think June 2, 2010.  

Junonia coenia (buckeye) pupa, Autumn in the field.
We were lucky to have so many visitors at OWR to take us out of our daily routines.  There was marathon badminton, kayaking, frozen pipes, swimming, savory food, bad films, good wine, and indescribable music.  Thanks to Ross, Allison, Gio, Soleil, Connie, Lee, Anthony, Faye and any visitors that I've forgotten.   

Elaphe guttata (corn snake) climbing the rose trellis, late Summer night.
There was talk of paving Old Wire Road and surveyors spent months staking out the path of the future road.  The surveying was followed by an army of county mowers that thoroughly destroyed all the survey markers.  OWR might remain a dirt road forever with this type of planning.  Oh, the South...


Ichetucknee River, Fall.
Columbia County, while an insanely and irrationally conservative place, has surprisingly managed to not sell out our springs to water bottling companies or to South Florida.  I continue to be thankful for this policy stance.  However, the county needs strict regulation of fertilizer use, run-off control and real land-use policies that could reverse the damage that is being done to the springs.  Oh, let me guess...they want to do another study to determine what we already know...or maybe have another feel-good meeting of industry and river management people.  Regulation with big nasty teeth is what we need.  This is a county that allowed a concrete plant within a few miles of Ichetucknee Springs and the construction of a large industrial park practically on top of a major sink that feeds the Ichetucknee.  I hope this decade brings powerful permanent protection of our springs.


Our pear trees began producing this year, but we failed to watch them closely enough.  They ended up chicken food.  Summer.
There have been so many predictable complaints about the past year by so many predictable people.  My complaints are more extensive, about the fear-a-go-go decade as a whole.  A humorous profanity-laced complaint summary consistent with my feelings can be found here.

To all the good people: Happy New Year and let's make this decade a better one...
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