Friday, February 1, 2013

The Other Florida

Today I am driving away from the beaches to a different Florida.  The white sandy beaches have given way to rich black soil.  There are still palm trees but also
hardwoods and of all things cattle.  Yes, everywhere around me I see acres of open land with grassy fields and cattle grazing along with the ocassional horse.  Then the cattle fields give way to acres and acres of sugar cane.  Up the road a little ways the air smells a bit sweet as I pass a road called Sugar House and I can see a processing plant belching a plume of smoke into the sky.  Trucks pass me along the highway carrying loads of freshly harvested cane back down to the sugar house.  I did not expect to see this kind of farm life in Florida.  I guess I just think of Florida as a place of beaches and Mickey Mouse.  But the real reason I am here is to see Lake Okeechobee.  Here in the land that is extremely flat for as far as the eye can see I suddenly see dikes and levees rising up ahead of me.  And now that I am here I learn that the Big O is home to some highly sought after bass fishing.  Of course I had to stop and grab a cache along the way.  This one was in someone's front yard.  The clue said "pulled by Clyde and Dale."  I laughed quite a bit at this one.  The parking lot near Hoover Dike is still over two thirds full of trucks and boat trailers from the weekend's bass tournament.  The dikes and levees were built to control the waters after the massive flooding and destruction from the hurricane of 1926.  In fact, the "big blow on the muck" was a central action in my favorite book by Zora Neale Hurston.  The muck was the name locals called the muddy black fields the sugar cane workers lived and worked in.  And many of them died in that dreadful weather season back in 1926. Since I am driving the rv today and towing my car there are few pictures to add because it's hard to find spots to park this rig to take pictures.  You will have to take my word for the sugar cane fields.  But I was able to get a few shots of the lake.  All the while I was thinking of my brother Mike who would be content to sit in his boat on this lake and fish the days away.  I would go with him, but of course I would lay in the boat and read.  We are compatible that way.

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