From vacation to South Florida and the Keys.
This cluster of vents is located at the back of Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Always best to visit when the park opens. The morning silence gives way to Cardinals, turtles and hikers.
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How do you remember a walk in the woods? With months past now, I had reflected on this winter outing because of the sunlight illuminating the golden, brown and red hues of dry brush and weeds. On this morning, it hadn’t mattered how near or far this location. More important was the immersion into adult introspection contrasting with childish titillation.
Traveling the first mile of the artery feeding the majority of park trails, a wooden marker had signaled a break in the path. Turning left and moving across a paved road, my friend and I had encountered a campground. At the edge of this encampment of vehicles was a small row of wooden benches converging into a theater like area. Much to our amusement, we had found a lady’s discarded top nearby on the ground. Wasting no time for a photo-op, I had stretched the garment across my chest for minutes of grins.
During the second portion of the hike, we had walked through crisp foliage underneath a green canopy of pine needles. The gray dry sandy trail had eventually transformed into a dark brown. With each advancing step, our feet had slipped further into the watery mud. Despite the diminishing quality of the surroundings, our spirits had coasted along on the power of puns and innuendo. This had continued until encountering a small black constrictor. Collecting snapshots of the peaceful reptile, we had completed two-thirds of the white trail loop.
The final leg of our morning journey was characterized by curiosity regarding walking sticks and bees. The walking sticks insects had seemed eerily out of place. They were easy bait for any predator hungry for a meal; however, pairings of these insects had slowly crawled unabated from any lizard or bird. Next, just past a worn wooden hold for horses, a hoard of bees had hovered in the air. Almost out of sight, the droning sound of the bees had recalled a recent news story. A story in which a father and son were stung by a hoard ending up in the local hospital. With this thought echoing a similar childhood experience for my friend, we had expeditiously cleared the last portion of the hike.
That small adventure navigating through nature had epitomized a moment of personal freedom and liberty. An adventure that had deferred adult responsibility. With fall coming around again, I had looked forward to not only cooling weather but, the smile of an earnest friend.
Wekiva Springs State Park
Today had marked my second visit to Gemini Springs in the past few years. The last time out, I was visiting some friends playing flag football in the open green spaces of this park. On this October afternoon, I had searched for solitary moments for recording video and stills; however, human activity had reached a fever pitch filling the air with sounds of conversation and horse play.
Making my way to the lake and spring boil, I had run into stray squirrels going up and down the various bridges. Despite all the surrounding water and soft mud on the water’s edge, noticeably absent were mosquitoes from my previous week’s journey to Green Springs, just a few miles away.
Circling the lake, I had looked about for a slithering reptile or two. No such activity had existed to satisfy my curiosity. The only water borne creatures that had swam about, mullet and a turtle. With soft yet firm cool breezes pushing through trees and across the water’s surface, I had focused on some red and purple flowers. These blooms I had concluded wouldn’t be around much longer.
Last time leaving this park, a thunderstorm was rolling in a with palpable change of weather. With an overcast morning giving way to sunshine and blue skies, a transformation had begun.This tangible sense of nature had resurfaced with a prelude to the fall.
Gemini Springs Park is located at: 37 Dirksen Drive, DeBary
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Gemini Springs Park (volusia.org)
“viridescent adjective \ˌvir-ə-ˈde-sənt\ meaning: greenish or becoming green. Origin: Latin viridis green” –merriam-webster.com
A friend had suggested visiting Green Springs Park in Volusia County at the beginning of September. He had mentioned an affinity for walking the premises with his wife at dusk. Now, for some reason, perhaps this aforementioned quaint notion had reduced my mental image of the park into just a pond, an oak tree and a park bench for a loving couple. The reality though, this park was more lush with plant life and extensive with acreage than this assumption.
Heading to the beaches of Titusville this past weekend, I had detoured off course into Deltona, Florida. Coming off the I4 exit, after a quick left on Debary, a right on Providence, then another quick left on Lake Shore Drive, my vehicle had pulled parallel to the St. John’s River. Across the road from the St. John’s was Green Springs Park’s entrance.
On this mid-morning, the gravel parking lot was fairly empty in difference to perhaps Wekiva Springs State Park. Approaching the main paved trail, a slow trickle of bikers had flowed in and out of the picnic tables and restroom area. Walking left down the main paved trail, Green Springs was immediately available on your right. This body of water had certain mysterious quality on viewing. The differing shades of greens emanating on, around, and below the surface had further underscored the forthcoming fall season. A friend of mine, had described the elongated branches of a tree stretching over the spring as finger-like and evil. Maybe, it was just symbolic of the history of the area being part of an old winery?
Aside from the multitude of overhanging tree limbs, a number of white square signs had lined the spring perimeter noting “No Swimming.” If entering the water, the signs had spoke of being trespassed from the property by a park ranger. This was only the second park with fresh water springs in my travels prohibiting swimming by the generic public. The other was Silver Springs in Ocala; however, another passerby had mentioned the “locals” wait until after dark for venturing into the spring head.
Moving to the opposite end of the spring overlook, I had climbed down to the water’s edge. In my movements to get a better picture, small fish had splashed beneath the surface trying to escape perhaps some other natural predator. After collecting few more images and video, my friend and I had moved back onto one of the side trails. We had come across several small rusty colored streams. While charming in sound, the abundant thunderstorm season had provided ample breeding grounds for mosquitoes. With the swarming insects, we had quickly opted to head out of the side trails. On the way out, we had seen a pair of red cardinals. Before we could grab a few stills, they had flown away. Following that lead, we had left the park pondering the dynamic fall temperatures might bring to the miles of trails in this park.
Green Springs State Park is located at:
994 Enterprise Osteen Rd, Deltona, FL 32725
Open daily: Sunrise to sunset
Two weeks after surgery, I had discovered an ever increasing desire to wonder around Central Florida. With a little help from my friends, I had tempered this flame with standard fare from walking at Lake Lily Park to Lake Eola; however, that was just the start. Hitting the road yesterday to Canaveral National Seashore, I had wrapped up the weekend back in the heart of Central Florida with swimming at Wekiva Springs State Park.
The latter two outings were less than ideal with chilling coastal winds to cloudy waters of an over populated springhead. The importance of the walking and swimming this weekend was an affirmation of a healthy recovery. In some sense, I was grateful in earning back more mobility. Though, in the back of my psyche, I had recalled dialing down my fervor a few notches. It wasn’t like I was playing with snakes seeking atonement, rather simple solace. This notion sometimes had seemed easier stated than done with an elderly lady power walking right by you as an adult male.
Recovery from surgery for anyone, was a measure of equal parts physical healing and mental attitude. With possibility of pain and discomfort acquiescing to a “pity party” was the lost opportunity in focusing a return to some sense of normalcy. Before surgery, I had blogged for folks to make the most of their day. Today, for those with a recent procedure(s), I had thought the same rule applies. I hadn’t needed to beat grandma, just redirect that intensity elsewhere. I had dared you to do the same no matter your circumstance, just live it up!
Wekiva Springs State Park (Florida State Park)
“There is nothing more beautiful than a tree.” – Joyce Kilmer
Moving onto the paved trail known as the West Orange Trail from the Apopka-Vineland Outpost, I had pondered the similarities between people and trees. Each respective organism had embodied the potential to bloom into a beautiful dynamic sight. With both organisms, each had matured under the seasons and the sun. Each were also equally vulnerable to any neglect or harsh environmental conditions.
With my second trip out to the West Orlando Trail at the Apopka-Vineland Outpost in as many years, I had picked up a friend for an afternoon walk. Approaching the parking for the trail, I had taken a wrong turn going up a gravel side road. For a few moments, I had thought a perched O.P.D. vehicle would peel me off for a moving violation. Luckily, just a quick U-turn had redirected my vehicle into the proper parking area without earning a ticket.
With a few years passing by since our last conversation, my friend was ecstatic about voyaging out into the green overhang up this 22 mile trail. Walking through the cool breeze of Monday afternoon, he had talked with jubilation about getting a fresh start after losing his job and a long term relationship. By his own admission, some of his recent “bad luck” were just bad choices.
Making our way up the paved walkway, we had seen open fields of golden bushes and palmettos. Behind those fields had laid the pale blue sky with the fading sun and a scattering of cirrus clouds. This backdrop was a calming contrast to my friend’s recent troubles. Continuing our conversation, we had whimsically shifted to nature of personal etiquette, growing older, and relationships. With all those subjects, we had both evolved from personal experience.
In our different journeys, we had struggled to find the answer to the question, “Do you know who you are?” To that question, I had responded recently to a friend “Yes!” In my mind, I had thought, “What’s inside me? A part of the American mythology, freewill.” For each person, we had the opportunity to manifest our own destiny and leave the world in our wake. For each of us, we had roots, limbs and leaves for baring our soul.
West Orange Trail (Trailink)