Saturday, September 1, 2007

Evinston-Micanopy Bob Cunningham Memorial Walk

Today was another in our series of Evinston to Micanopy round-trip walks. We call it our Bob Cunningham Memorial Walk, after a dear outsider artist friend who joined my wife and I on one of our Evinston-Micanopy-Evinston round trip walks one year, only to break off from us and the walk a quarter of the way through and relocate to Iowa the next day, never to be seen by us again. The walk from Evinston to Micanopy is 4 miles, making the round trip an even 8 miles.

We began our outing with a long chat with Freddy Wood, his wife Miss Sue Wood, and Freddy's brother Ashley (Ash) in the Wood and Swink store where our post-box was located when we lived in that lovely hamlet prior to
purchasing our 1935 restored bungalow in the northwestern part of the county. We sat in ancient chairs near the wood stove which supplies heat to the Wood and Swink store during the winter months. We hadn't seen Freddy and Sue since the Evinston-Cross Creek paint-out in February, when we last walked the route. Freddy farms the land behind the store in the photo, above, and Miss Sue is the long-time post-mistress. Freddy's father was postmaster for several decades until his wife took over the job. The store and post office has been in the Wood family since the turn of the century, a store that is listed in the National Register of Historic places. I was pleased to learn that in two or three weeks time okra, peas and tomatoes will be ready and for sale in the store. My wife and I relished eating vegetables that were picked by Freddy that day, when we lived in Evinston before. We really relished knowing that buying and eating Freddy's produce had been a continuous community tradition for many decades before we lived there, among just a handful of families. We'll show up there in 2-3 weekends, cash and carry-bags in hand.

The first four miles of the walk went fast, since we were fresh and walking in the cool of the morning. We took note of bird calls, blooming plants and other natural features along the sandy roads to Micanopy. Upon arriving, we lunched on sandwiches and soup at our usual haunt, the Old Florida Cafe.
A cowboy-hatted, cowboy-booted, jeans-wearing man with an enormous gray Brahman steer, a big white goose, and a liver-spotted Australian shepherd-dog offered rides to passersby across a little alley near the center of the road that runs through the short antique store lined main street.

That same managery minus goose, can be seen in this rainy-day video clip recently posted on YouTube by some other happy visitor to Micanopy. We laughed when the cowboy mounted his massive steer and rode around the sunny thoroughfare, white goose and liver-spotted sheep dog tailing behind, the animals maintaining a polite and ordered distance as the great cow with rider stepped out its measured pace along the street.

The return walk back to Evinston was completely different from the initial walk. The sun was fully up in the sky, the road was hot, and the humidity and temperature had risen appreciably. We were forced to shake off the languid feeling of having eaten a delightfully full meal, and had to stretch muscles that thought they were finished exerting for the day. Out came the hats to shade the sun from our brows and eyes. Limbs and feet felt the heat of the day, and the return walk dragged on in comparison to the earlier effort. We were tiring, and feeling the "stretch" part of the walk, and were drinking frequently from bottles of the previously frozen water we'd carried with us.

Despite feeling the burn from resuming the walk in the hotter part of the early afternoon, we were happy. We had water to spare; there were shady breaks at regular intervals; and we anticipated the satisfaction that we would soon complete the last of an 8-mile walk during the high-summer heat in Florida.

Evinston was quiet when we arrived. We simply got in the car and drove away, promising to walk the route again with friends, or without, when the weather cooled a bit. The whole journey, including trekking, lunch, and travel time to and fro, was about 6 hours. We'd do it again in a heart-beat or two.

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