10.27.2007

Stories told by flowers: A walk in the park

Delicate. Lovely. Soft-looking. Always surprising. Flowers, wherever you find them, are wonderful. They fill the world with every color and the most delicious smells.

This is the quintessential Florida scene -- wet, wet, wet and green, with some Spanish moss thrown in for good measure, of course. Although Florida is not a great place for hiking, we decided to "hike" through this park. It's called John Chesnut Sr. County Park and it's located in Palm Harbor, Florida.

It covers about 255 acres and was built in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers. The reason Florida isn't a great place for hiking is because 7 months out of the year it's too hot and humid to move with any speed and there are no hills or mountains in Florida, so there's just these flat, boring stretches of path through the humidity.

And truly, in the months of June to October, the bugs will eat you alive in a close environment like this. The air barely moves at all. It's really amazing -- people who've lived here for years don't seem to notice that you can't actually get any air when you're outside. On our walk through Chesnut Park we were warned about the dangers of messing with the wildlife. We've heard stories, like everyone has, but we haven't seen anything scarier than a medium sized spider.
The park is built beside the rather large Tarpon Lake and is full of swamps, so the Army Corps of Engineers built these cool raised boardwalks. The boardwalks do two things: keep your feet dry and keep humans out of the marshy, swampy, somewhat delicate terrain.

Walking through the Florida jungle on these boardwalks in late October was almost pleasant. There was a tiny breeze, it was cloudy and the temperature wasn't much higher than 79 degrees. What kept it from actually being pleasant was, of course, the humidity, which was probably in 90% range. Yuck. But the marsh is full of wondrous life.

This is what fall looks like here. Pretty much that's it, the one leaf. We saw some orangish-brown needles on the pine trees. It was just some old dead branches.

It's really a lovely place and easy to enjoy. There are plenty of benches for relaxing, watching the wildlife and listening to the sounds of the water creatures. There's even a swing.


It's truly unfortunate that I still associate relaxing outside with smoking. I'm happy to say that the urges passed quickly and Kim helped me by talking through it with me. He's very understanding -- he quit smoking more than 30 years ago.