John and I couldn’t wait, as usual, so we celebrated Earth Day yesterday. We went for a lovely five mile hike on a recently renovated portion of Red Trail. This section is called the Berm Trail because it is built on a levee, or berm. We were pleasantly surprised by how lovely this Berm Trail is. Shade was plentiful, and the terrain was varied. We didn’t expect that. It was also fun to look across the ditch and catch glimpses of the road we usually walk to get to the canal we cross when we want to hike in the more jungle-like portion of Grant Flatwoods Preserve. The Berm Trail has it’s own jungle sections.
“To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles.” -Mary Davis
It was a surprisingly cool and windy day for our area of Central Florida in late April. The sunny and dry morning allowed us to cover the planned distance without stopping for a snack break, or to cool off with water.
Once we crossed the canal on the new foot bridge (the former bridge sagged in the middle and was sometimes under water, in the rainy season… ) we set up our new tripod and experimented with some still shots and video.
We had originally toyed with the idea of staying on the White Trail, which goes on to a housing development in Grant-Valkaria. It is mostly exposed and very sunny, however… and we knew the day would soon heat up, so we changed our minds and went down into the “Old Florida Jungle” part of Red Trail instead. That seemingly prehistoric setting never fails to thrill us. It is an isolated world full of wild orchids, mosses, lichens, tall palm trees, short palmetto bushes, ancient oak trees, and small spring fed ponds, stained by leaves rich in tannic acid. Wild hogs root through the sand under the oak trees, hoping for acorns and grub worms… and huge herons, hawks and owls fly low through the trees when startled. The heron’s wild cry makes us imagine the pterodactyls of the Jurassic Period.
Today will feel very anticlimactic by comparison. We will probably stay home. I might go outside and weed a garden bed. Our seasonal neighbors have been preparing to leave for the long hot summer months, and I am mildly inspired by their industry.
All this week they have been weeding flower beds, trimming trees and shrubs, pressure washing their houses, and dragging lawn ornaments and furniture indoors for storage. Anything that can become air borne in a wind storm is best moved indoors. Their metal storm shutters will soon be closed and bolted. Canvas covers will be draped snuggly over golf carts and fun cars… mostly P.T. Cruisers and BMW convertibles, depending on income levels and the need to impress. People owning Bentleys will have them loaded onto flatbed trucks and shipped north.
In years past a blessed silence would descend on the development, once four-fifths of our population of humans departed. This year new subdivisions are going in all around our borders. Thousands of acres of wild habitat has been “cleared” for housing tracts that will be known by the names of what was destroyed… names like Clear Springs, Blue Lakes, Sighing Pines, Palmetto Palms… Coyote Run, Deer Landing, Heron Bay. The sound of power tools, earth moving equipment, and hammering will keep the armadillos and coyotes away. The birds have already flown.
This year, we too will flee the steamy, bug infested, hurricane prone summer. It won’t be bearable for us to stay anymore. We would too sorely miss the peace and quiet… bereft of the sudden daytime visits from wild things with paws, claws, pads, and wings. The noise and dust and death bringing destruction/construction going on over our back fence right now is really why we finally bought Eppy, the Escape Pod. More on that later.