Christmas / New Years ’13 / ’14
Wow, a banner year for visits. My son, bk, and his family were here for Christmas.
Then Sunday, 2014 January 19, my nephew, Paul Baker, visited with a quorum of his family. Paul wanted to share Highlands Hammock State Park with his wife and kids, hoped I’d accompany them: me, the old tour giver.
Paul Baker’s wife, Kay, took the pic: son Andrew, daughter Lydia, Papa Paul, Uncle pk. Paul Baker’s son Arthur and wife were not alas present.
Let me say something about this “Memorial Oak” of HHSP: left of Andrew’s leg, hip you see the grounded remains of one of the oak’s reinforced-concrete-loaded secondary boles. That branching trunk crashed to earth, oh, a dozen, fifteen years ago. When I first met this tree a great branch arched north-westward over the CCC-installed road. Those mortal remains were cleared away by 1990, but when much of the rest of the tree collapsed some of the debris was allowed to remain: showing the CCC’s work with the tree surgeons Margaret Shippen Roebling hired to scrape disease from the innards. (Oaks decay from the inside out, so the CCC-aided surgeons were like dentists filling a scraped cavity.) Lydia sits in front of the concrete-filled incision cut to enter the tree. On one CCC Day for which I gave free trams all day long, from 1990 to 2000, I was driving full up, that’s forty-five passengers as my voluntary captive audience, and I parked by the great tree and blabbed a version of the above. “I worked inside that tree,” one of my CCC alumni announced. “Wow, take a bow”. And the rest of us gave him an ovation.
I was all prepared to be devastated seeing the millennial dishevelment of my old friend, but bless us one and all, the oak, shed of all that past-prime weight, is recovering! New growth is springing skyward!
I hope the Memorial Oak logs another thousand years.
The park boasts two other thousand year oaks, non anywhere near the shape in which I first met them, but offering new amazements. Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp has a couple of thousand year old bald cypress trees. HHSP has plenty of cypress tree several hundred years old. Which individuals are the oldest I can’t say.
Hammock, by the way, develops where the land isn’t too high (like pine flat woods) or too low (like swamp, like bog, like bay head). Pines protect the hammock from fire by being fire tolerant: fires burn out (in nature) before much damage is done. Swamps and bay heads are simply too wet as well as too low. HHSP’s cypress swamp trail with its ancient catwalk (older than the park) is the most popular attraction.
Again delightful Kay manned the e-camera.
Minutes later we visited another section of Little Charlie Bowlegs Creek where three alligators joined our day’s seen list. We’d already been seeing the usual flora, and plenty of wading birds (ibis in abundance, maybe beginning a reverse migration north). The sun wasn’t quite right to notice many golden orb-weaver spiders … but we came upon a really big, very black snake. Utterly immobile this critter was all coiled up, but I bet that once again about its business it would prove really long: ten, twelve feet wouldn’t surprise me.
bk, Nathalie, and Benjamin loved the Memorial Oak too: as bk long has. Their visit to the further reaches of Little Charlie Bowlegs Creek also viewed some good alligators. Not only did the Marcus see plentry of wading birds in the same environs as did the Bakers, but an anhinga was on display at the creek drying its wings. Now that is some bird.
What we didn’t see either family, either day, was a water turtle: like this nice cooter the anhinga stands upon.
Here I transfer an entry of 2013 12 24 temporarily posted it my Fishing Scrapbook:
Hooray, my son, bk, his wife, Nathalie, and my grandson, their son, Benjamin Tucker, visited for a few days. I hadn’t fished with bk since I can’t remember. It was my first occasion to fish with Benjamin.
I explained that pan fish are sometimes easy to catch; bass are generally hard to catch; but that we were fishing for bass: I wanted to show Ben how his granddad fishes, not how others may fish. So: we paddled to the lake’s largest dock, where bass may hide in ambush, ready to assault smaller fish. When I got a strike, I hooked the fish: and handed the rod to Ben. When he’d brought it canoe-side, I took the rod back, showed how I unhook a fish in hope of not hurting it too much, showed Ben how to take if from me, still not hurting or injuring the already-stressed fish … and that bass escaped overboard. Fine: his gill was bloody.
The next strike I hooked and offered the rod to bk. Boy, did theMarcus love Jan’s lake.
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