Thursday, May 10, 2007

Swimming In The Big Creek

So. Linda Conner and I sat on the deck outside the room she's living in at Dogpatch this evening and talked about the heat. It is a matter of fact here in Florida. We are the Northernmost Caribbean Colony, don't you know. Listed temperate wise as Subtropical, having palms, beaches, and many of the denizens of the tropics flying by and nesting, we also have subtropical weather. It's hot in the summer. And sticky like sex.

Linda mentioned that she brought her bathing suit from Maryland and allowed as how she had swam in the Potomac. She said she remembered to pack the suit thinking that she'd go to the YMCA or the beach. "Posh. Tish. There's a 300 foot wide and three to four hundred foot deep channel cut right off the back of Dogpatch", I says. Adding that all she need be on the lookout for is water snakes and amorous gators during season. SWFTMUD (SwiftMud - the local water management authority in Southwest Florida) keeps them culled out.

The water is clear and cool and serves as the reservoir for drinking water here in the Tampa Bay area and points south. Okay. Hopefully, I won't pee in it. Fish are abundant and mostly left unmolested except by a few local fishers and water birds like Heron, Grey and Brown Pelicans, Eagles, Falcons, Cormorants, Seagulls and Terns. The fish grow so big that the big birds often drop them on lawns - instant cerviche.

The neighborhood kids across the canal know what kids have known for Millennia - that the water was made for swimming. Indeed. I swam these very same shores as a young girl when it was Six Mile Creek and before the Army Corps of Engineers came in to better it. There were small waterfalls then. And palms, palmettos, magnolias, vines big enough to hold a full-grown man. Gators, Florida Panther and Brown Bear thrived alongside Gopher Tortoises. They are all gone from the bed of that once lush and mystical place of my youth. They were bulldozed and bermed against the natural flooding that made sure this land was fertile and welcome for many species.

Instead of the meandering zees of the natural creek bed, the Army Engineers made sure that it was tamed into a nice, straight line. The Army likes everything straight, including their soldiers. They blasted the natural blowholes of springs, which fed the Creek. Those springs turned the water a lily blue and the underwater sand landscape lunar white. Water in Florida only gets brown when the leaves from oak and other indigenous trees tincturate it with tannins from the leaves when they fall in.

I swam in it then. One of a long succession of Florida denizens behind Temuccuans, Seminole, Florida Crackers who gathered wild Spanish cattle out of the underbrush to build their ranch herds. I'll swim in it now that it has lost all but a whisper of its original beauty and majesty. Maybe it will wash off some of the years I've accumulated since then. But, I'm sure the waters will do the same thing to me now as they did then. Chill.


Martha Marshall said...

Tell me you and Linda did not swim in that canal. I've seen those big ass gators!!!

queenlint1 said...

Not yet, but we're gonna when our arses get hot enough!! Gators? Hell. You know us Florida girls run with the big dawgs!!