|Monarch butterflies on Baccharis halimifolia (salt-marsh elder aka Consumption Weed)|
Secret Aging Man (SAM) and I both agreed on Saturday morning that we were ready for a change of scenery. How about the Aucilla River Sinks Trail? I had received a forwarded e-mail from someone earlier in the week. It promoted an upcoming field trip to this place, known for its abundance of wildflowers and unusual geologic features. Perfect for us! we thought--that is, until we met the man in the cherry-red truck.
Josh, he said his name was, and, now that I think about it, I don't think the name was a coincidence. We were lost, you see, having driven down dusty back roads for the better part of three hours. The map we had printed from an Internet site was pathetic, and the Suwannee Water Management District signs weren't very helpful either. True to our low-tech nature, we didn't have a GPS device on hand to direct our course and pinpoint our destination. Enter Josh, the man in the truck. Ya'll aren't from around here. Plannin' to drive that car down these here roads? Why yes, we're looking for this trail, you see, and we've been driving down these roads for a while now, looking for it...
|Monarch butterflies not too proud to share the feast with some Common Buckeyes|
He told SAM to pull up behind him just past the intersection of two more dusty roads. They both got out of the vehicles, he proceeded to introduce himself and his "wife" (who looked about 14 years old, according to SAM), and then he gestured in the direction of one part of the trail. The men walked several yards in that direction, and I missed most of the rest of their conversation while I waited in the car. I did hear something about Dead Man's Sink, people never being seen again after straying too far from the main road, and this here bein' drug runnin' country. By the time SAM made it back to the car, I had already made up my mind. Let's skip the Sinks Trail and go to St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge instead.
We were both glad we did, because the Monarch butterflies were just stopping by on the way to Mexico, and the Muhly grass was showing off its pretty pink fluffiness all over the place.
|Muhlenbergia capillaris seen at St. Mark's NWR|
After driving around for hours, a walk was just what we needed. It was a sunny and very windy afternoon. Unlike Maria in James Joyce's story "Clay" (Dubliners), by the time we were ready to go home I wasn't "coloured with shame and vexation and disappointment" for having lost something because of confusion--plumcake in her case, time in ours. My cheeks were almost as rosy as Muhly grass from the sun, the wind...
|Love is...a blind--for bird watchers|
and the afternoon's adventure shared with my cohort in confusion.
|SAM and Walk2Write on a trail at St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge|
(I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls...But I also dreamt, which pleased me most, That you loved me still the same...)