Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jupiter to Stuart: Discovering Wild Places As Old Florida Vanishes

It is hard to find places with a vista uninterrupted by development in South Florida, like this birding sanctuary in Jensen Beach.
It is right off U.S. 1. No one was there on this hot September Saturday.
One of my favorite things-to-do on a beautiful blue-sky day is drive north to discover things I've never seen or that have changed since last I saw them.

My first September in South Florida, 1982, I was surprised every time I went outdoors the palm trees and heat.

I traveled from New York State on Labor Day weekend, 1982, accompanied by the annual snowbird migration; it seemed as if every fifth car on that great flyover route, I-95, had a northern license plate.

I would soon learn that September can be one of the hottest months of summer, the autumnal equinox that ushers in Fall notwithstanding.

There is a shaded picnic hut for bird watchers well down the trail; I doubt you can see the tiny speck in this this photo.

In this direction, you may see some high-rise condominiums just on the horizon line.

The first time I saw this area, it was so undeveloped, one followed foot trails between the sea grape bushes -- particularly nice one left -- and scrub palmetto to the ocean. We emerged from the dark canopy to the stunning vista of sky so blue it hurt the eyes and sand as white as salt.

L'Ombre, my Doberman Pinscher, mistook the sand for snow. He threw up a snoutful and chomped down to eat some, as he did with snow.

But Mother Nature had played a cruel trick on him and was about to pay another.
He ran to the ocean to get the sand out of his mouth, only to be confronted with another thing he had never before encountered -- salt water. Poor doggie.

But he loved the beach and to swim in the ocean, something none of my other dogs ever did. They feared the water and hated the hot sand on their feet.

The next set of photos is from a detailed mural with sections in relief, in an arcade leading to a small hole-in-the-wall bar and little gift shops. I think this is Port Salerno, but I'm not sure.

The first photo blends trompe l'oiel with a real potted plant. Other depictions are a sailfish, a popular sport fishing catch; underwater scene with mermaid, and a school of fishes under the gift shop window.

In an art gallery just around the corner from the arcade, I found beautiful art that captures the South Florida ambiance I love. Some of the photos turned out darker and more shadowed than I could rememdy.

This mermaid sculpture is a lovely piece for home that would need to be larger than mine to accommodate it.

The charming watercolor depict the insouciance of a Florida that is decades gone and never to return.

On the way home, I took a wrong turn and wound up in an area that seemed deserted -- even of cars. It is unnerving to think about being stranded miles from anywhere on a road for which I don't know the name and could only be sure that I was driving generally East.

Assuming there is cell phone coverage -- and I wasn't -- how would I tell the tow-truck to find me on a road off the Kanner Highway with a sign pointing toward I-95?

At first, the fields had cows grazing; after a mile two there was what you see in the photo.

I like knowing there are still wild places in Florida -- even though this looks like second growth -- but I don't necessarily want to live or be stranded in such a place.

No comments: