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I’ve fished a beautiful place located in North Florida, a place I call ‘The Swamp’, for all of ten years. It softens the landscape as a pristine pond flushed by spring water surrounded by virgin forest. Imagine a shoreline visited but rarely since the time of Chef  Micanopy and the Seminal Indians-a shoreline mirrored in still waters and brushed by tall beige grasses, grayish wooden stems and florescent flowers. Never, even to this day, has a house occupied this gleaming water bank.

The Swamp does, however, have a past of sorts. Once this place was the destination of all those who headed on Turkey Hill Road, cutting through the tall pine on a hot summer day, intent on bathing in this pond and resting by its’ shore upon blankets filled with watermelons, fried chicken, hot corn and cream sodas. I often imagine the gators, birds, fish and people alike bathing here so long ago.

The road leading to this Swamp, though rough, ridged and rutted, is not the most significant contributor to this spots’ isolation. This is true even though the condition of this road could easily be the reason for the scant number of invasions upon American soil throughout our country’s past. Is it impassible? Well, not quite? Not if you’re born as some are with the sense that your ancestors are always watching -you wouldn’t want to let them down by not testing the waters, by not sailing the seas, by not slashing the trail or by not exploring the unknown- the dangerous. And alike, you would also want to take them by foot fall along this seldomly used path. Being one of these people who keeps in the company of ancestors,  I found this Road and Swamp to act most like a magnet to my mind and body- pulling me in thought and in deed to this place of unchanged history.

No, it’s not the road but the shore line itself that isolates these waters. What once was an inviting shoreline now offers some 20 to 30 yards of floating mass around the entirety of the ponds’ shore.  By floating mass I mean a thick but moving, ever changing mat of weeds, sticks, grasses and seasonal flowers. I can stand on it, or as it has been my experience, I can slip right through it into the unknown waiting waters below. This is never good. Gators, some 12 feet in length, often glide the surfaces here and it’s not a great feeling dangling ones leg through this floating mass wondering how attractive your thigh is?

It could be those who have  called me “hard headed” were simply referring to the seemingly metal mass I apparently use for brains which has in turn drawn me to places like this Swamp- a place of seclusion, distance and yes, danger. No matter what the reason my feet often walk to where my mind follows. And, unfortunately, it’s also uncommon for me to have 20/20 vision prior, during or even after visiting places such as the Swamp.

Preparation, I say, is mostly for cooking, not real life adventures. There is no preparation for ‘real time’ Life- it is way too unknown, unstable, much like the wind drifts during a fall day. It’s not that I don’t try to be prepared. It’s just that One would need an endless warehouse full of preparation precautions to even begin to be prepared for Life so I don’t go ‘nuts’ over it. Still, today I wonder: is an outing such as this one initiated by the ‘thrill of the hunt’, the need for experiencing split second decisions, or rather by a wish to replicate a faint internal remembrance of ancestral survival adventures? Who knows?

Oddly, I don’t think about any of this when half of myself is dangling below a floating weed mass in gator infested waters.  I hoist myself up, gather my John boat, and begin once again to push  my boat across the top of  weeds toward the open water-softly placing my feet on wooden planks  I lay on top of the floating masses for buoyancy or, if I have none,  I spread my toes as a bird might, hoping I can fly if I have to.

Franque.-much more to post on the Swamp.

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