Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cemetery Walks In Camellia Time

Every Sunday afternoon we walk our Corgis in the local cemetery. What passes for a Florida winter is ending and spring is on its way. Thus begins the loveliest time of year to stroll through the cemetery: Camellia Time.

These slow-growing tea relatives are planted throughout the cemetery. The white-flowered individuals have all bloomed; the big pink and red ones now have the stage to themselves. It is a pleasure to walk among them and take in their dazzling beauty packaged in blooms as big as grapefruits.

The cemetery has many mature eastern red cedar and longleaf pines. The sandy lanes between the plots are soft with fallen needles that are a pleasure to tread upon. It is especially inspiring to pass along those quiet tracks to see the late afternoon sun's blush upon the cinnamon trunks of the pines and the camellias, and to hear the breeze whispering through the treetops.

It's not a long walk by any measure. But a few minutes' contemplation in the liminal stillness among the silent graves during lovely Camellia Time brings a piece of mind and a sense of calm like few other activities.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Evinston - Barr Hammock Walk

My wife and I spent an entire lovely Florida morning trekking the scenic ~8 miles of country backroads between historic Evinston and the home of some dear friends who live on 80 acres west of Micanopy next to Barr Hammock in Alachua County.

We set out on our walk after a lengthy morning catching up (having lived there once)
with Freddy Wood at the historic Wood and Swink store in Evinston, where we purchased a large bunch of Freddy's freshly (that morning) harvested carrots (to be sauteed tomorrow with butter, honey and a touch of curry). This day we walked right through the south side of the town of Micanopy, rather than stop for lunch and walk back the way we came (our usual "Bob Cunningham Memorial Walk"). We continued on past I-75 to our dear friends' inviting and welcoming home ~3 miles west of the town proper. They were expecting us, and happily greeted us with their usual and widely known hospitality, and a great meal.

Fay's country sausage and spinach
minestrone-style soup with savory toast points was just wonderful. We lunched and chatted on their expansive screened wrap-around porch to views of the pine and oak flatwoods beyond. Tom and I took a brief walk among the sand live oaks, saw palmettos, and crooked-wood thickets to view the longleaf and sand pines on that part of their property. Scattered among the trees and palmettos Tom pointed out the remnants of longleaf pine stumps logged long ago, and pieces of clay turpentine cups scattered around them. I don't know anyone who appreciates the longleaf pine and its history in Florida more than Tom. It is a treat to share in his zeal and boyish wonder at that part of Florida's past right on his own property. These true and dear friends are the sort that enrich our and others' lives. We only hope that you too are blessed with similar active and engaging salt-of-the-earth folk. [Click on photos, below, to enlarge.]

United Methodist Church in Evinston. This church was erected in 1909 by the direct ancestors of the families that have lived in the tiny hamlet since then. Why was the building built there? To hear it from Freddy Wood, one of those descendants, it was sponsored and built because the residents wanted a place to gather, worship, baptise, and marry their children, despite the fact that few of the original inhabitants subscribed to Methodism. Formerly, a circuit preacher came to the church monthly or quarterly to preach and conduct services. The current preacher who attends the flock weekly, is Joseph Smith, a judge who lives in Williston, a few tens of miles away. His name, coincident with the founder of Mormonism, is not lost to us. The intact interior of the building and the
pews are lovingly constructed of local longleaf pine and cypress. We attended services there during the time we lived in Evinston on the Vidal property.

A sandy country lane a mile or two west of Evinston. It is a pleasure to walk this lonesome road with its oak canopy filled with chittering cardinals and chickadees, and views of pastures and woodlands on each side.

An old Florida vernacular house, probably built in the 1920-1930's. A sign next to the structure advertises Clark's nursery. The roadside ?vacant house sits on several acres that also has a modern home a couple of hundred yards south of the road. Rumor has it that the old African-American man that owned the property recently packed it in and moved to somewhere Africa to end his days there as a rich man among his ancestors, free of the cares and politics of the USA. But what about the freedoms and securities that are enjoyed here?

A leaning sable palm that angled up into the surrounding canopy as it grew. I oriented this palm's canopy as if it were growing straight up overhead, which caused the normally-pitched trees to appear at an odd angle with respect to the subject of the photo.

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