Saturday, May 29, 2010

The River

A week on the St John's

The hanging flags of Spanish Moss make the oaks and cypress weep like willows and they have reason. The landscape looks primeval, but the 3500 year old trees are long gone and harvested to panel rec rooms and mulched to blanket the flower gardens and walkways of the people who see Florida as a place to transform not to revere. But things grow fast here, even the hardwoods and the 100 year old trees still look beautiful with their Gothic buttresses and the spires of their knees where the Heron and Egret watch for fish as still and patient as if they too were made of wood.The nests of man, the cabins and fish camps and bait stores and boat houses are part of the river and the culture of the river, but it's an illusion. Only a short distance inland the concrete spreads like Kudzu, the roads lined with trashy plastic signs of chain restaurants and gas stations screaming electrically into the night; Arby's, Burger King, used cars, liquor stores and Ruby Tuesday like every other road in America -- anywhere in America with pretentious developments built on drained wetlands and vast forests scraped to bedrock with names that come from England and end in pointe.

Pawn shops and beauty parlors in dilapidated strip malls in mushroom-looking faux-Mansard disrepair, fortune tellers, tattoo parlors; fast food shipped in frozen from 5 thousand miles away. "Urban" music thumps away from massive imported trucks, bullying and roistering from bar to bar. But turn here, that narrow road where the moss hangs from the phone lines, a few miles into the woods, past that road house with the big old Indian with the red leather saddle bags parked in the gravel lot in front, where it's still a little like it used to be and they sell cold beer and live bait and there's a little park with a launching ramp and you can push off away from the continent of mass produced consumer culture into the network of creeks and lakes and spring runs; into the river and away -- where alligators bask, dreaming of the Cretaceous and the giant oaks sigh for their lost children.


Baltazar said...

Where the water meets the land is a sinister place = very primitive

Capt. Fogg said...

True - it evokes primal fears and in this place they're not irrational. I saw a half dozen gators in a the couple of hours I was taking pictures, but they're vary hard to spot, you only see a small part of what's there and it's the one you don't see that drags you under and tears you to bits.