Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Turn to Tennessee, A Fiery Gizzard in the Rain

Imagine being the first autumn leaf at the bottom of these falls.

ttttennesssseee parks I visited last weekend, for the second time - Red Clay Council Ground in April was the first, the last gathering place for the Cherokee before the Trail of Tears was begun - and it was raining but that didn't stop me. I was standing in North Chickamauga River in a gorge with fog covering the peaks above and the water was warm.

Faith is a flat-iron in the valley rain. Hope is a blow dryer.
Loneliness is a soggy daisy in Soddy-Daisy. And contentment is this spider on its riverside rock.

After this I was led up Monteagle Mountain, the truckers' favorite hill to hate, and at the top a mountain man suggested this white-dressed witchy woman wander to Grundy Forest and the Fiery Gizzard. One of the South Cumberland Plateau State Parks between Chattanooga and Nashville, on Scenic Hwy 41, it was like a mist tent going down the trail to the creek but I wasn't the only one out here in the rain.

Some waterfalls.....
Dog Hole (or Blue Hole)

School Run

Foster Falls

and thennn....

Georgia SaveMyStateParks Day is Sept 26

This Saturrrday, September 26, all Georgia State Parks are free admission! Visit them and support them amid funding cuts and keep them from having to be closed!
Visit www.savemystateparks.org for more info.

If you live in Atlanta, magnificent Sweetwater Creek park is to the west (assuming it's open considering this creek flooded last weekend). Red Top and Etowah Indian Mounds are to the northwest, by Lake Allatoona and Cartersville. Panola Mountain is to the southeast between Lithonia and Stockbridge.
(see below for photos and more about these)

I plan to be at Cloudland Canyon and its wild waterfall this weekend - it's on Lookout Mtn. near Chattanooga.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Find your home, in the limestone


Beside the swimming area at Wakulla Springs, the limestone floor drops to over one hundred feet below the surface.
, for those divers who have seen these depth and not drowned, there is a cave that connects to the gulf, below the Wakulla River and below the old fort San Marcos de Apalache, below the soft earth along each side that holds WalMart and several country homes, and the river's two spooky bridges.

Some of the fish that have lived here have followed the current from as far as South Florida and the Keys, it's been Sead.

And of course, manatees like the underwater caves too.
"come to the surface, I'm dreaming of you."

About a hundred miles Northwest is Florida's only aboveground cavern open to the public, Florida Caverns State Park along the Chipola River near one of its hiding places, where this river had risen years ago and created bluffs, recalling the days of yore when most of Florida was still underwater and these caverns were along the shore.

MY LUCK the cavern tour was closed when I was there, but I still got to witness this exciting combination, the paradox where palmettos cover walls of rocks...

just beyond here is where the sweet Chipola burrows underground for a few

dream on,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Florida Springs, Part 2: The (sur)Real Florida

There's a voice that says "just let yourself be..."
Is it a lady or is it a manatee?
You'll have to come down to the spring and see.

Mimimolotov the mullet seems to disagree:
"There's people up there and I have to jump up and see,
and never mind the fishermen down at Steinhatchee."
(but it does sound like an exciting industry)

There are places where the humans don't really get to go
and that's ok with us as long as they know
sometimes we do have to remind them, though

(and sometimes they have to build fences to make sure no boats try to slip through)

my country home,
my lovely, never lonely,
Black Lagoon

where algae and branches are walkways
over floors I don't even know how deep

All photos at Wakulla Springs State Park (Wakulla, FL)
except #2 of the mullet at Manatee Springs
and the above photo is at Sally Ward Spring inside Wakulla Park.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Florida Springs, part 1

Florida is a quagmire.

(in more than one sense)

A watery, swampy semitropical land with wild variations of plant and animal life, some undeveloped and seemingly undevelopable, yet somehow overdeveloped in the names of Tourism and the Conquest of Paradise.
Aside from beaches (and family), Florida seemed not so interesting to me when I was young, because what I got to see was mostly theme parks and tourist attractions. Entering adulthood, and leaving a horrible high-school Disney trip, I'd never been to the "Real Florida" - as the Florida State Park system slogan goes - and so in 2006, I decided to move there!
I lived for a spring and summer on the Gulf Coast, along the panhandle by Panama City in a pastoral one-stoplight town. Every day nature passed me an element of inspiration. Oyster shells clanking, cypress reflecting, sitting tranquil over waters unsafe for swimming humans.

In summer 2009, I return again...


e are hundreds of natural springs in Florida, mostly along the Gulf side where groundwater meets limestone and sinkholes and underwater caves form.
I visited, and swam in, several: Fanning, Manatee, Wekiwa, Wakulla.
The smell of living creatures in the clear water, the yellows, blues, and greens - are a sensual Fountain of Youth that can not, and will not, allow itself to be paved over.

Photos 1-3 are from Manatee Springs near Chiefland, FL, and the photo on the right is from Wekiwa, on the edge of Orlando.