“The Oak Street* Rapids”


(June 20, 2018)

walking up oak street

rapids – ankle deep whitewater –

with boom-n-bright

 

  • (Actually Oak Avenue here in Sanford, Florida, USA, just up a modest hill behind which lies The Saint Johns River Valley, whose rise is more than mirrored across the way, to the North, by the more mountainous (he-he) heights of DeBary, which I scoffingly call Dead-And-Buried just South of DeLand (and, yes, I’ve a less-than-polite name for that burg which was gifted by none other than Messer Stetson whose hats endowed a modestly famous college quite long ago, at least by our pioneer standards.  Central Florida did not have a paved road running its North-South length (almost entirely: The Everglades intruded!) until the mid-1920s and even into the 1980s the ABC liquor lounge and package store in Lake Placid just South of Lake Wales, had a hitchin’ post and watering trough out back for cowboys’ conveyances convenience.  Florida, not Texas, supplied The Confederacy with its beef during the most recent unpleasantness between the states (mis-appropriately called The Civil War) and still ranks very high in cattle. Said perambulation up Oak in a riotous thunderstorm came with sheets of blinding rain with drops too heavy to fly sideways in gusts but came close to such approximation, all illuminated by sometimes near-continuous sheets of lightning, some of which crashed all-too-near, causing my repeated regrets I have found since childhood a damnfoolish fondness for walking in the midst of God’s great splendor of furious sound and light. And, thusly, I make homage to Oak Streets everywhere.  A pal recently had the privilege – and, thankfully so it was only a roof and a yard – and a bit of flotsam in the pool – when a lightning strike felled a huge limb off his century oak in the front yard.  In decades past I once drove my pickup truck through the expanding ball of explosive pine tree full of Spring sap – like the pal’s Spring oak, so sapped – along U. S. Highway 1 just between my beloved Mims and my place of employ in Titusville.   The tree was standing tall above its kin just past the two-lanes of railroad tracks which paralleled the four-lane divided highway.  The explosive burst from the tree following the retina-after-imaging lightning strike itself was the equal of any danger-close artillery explosion I had previously witnessed in Vietnam in 1970.  And, fortunately, I was able to drive on through the ring of burning pine chunks, none of which hit poor truck, but I did have yet one more military flashback, tasting and smelling expended cordite with that white flash sparking an orange-and-red-and-yellow hearthfire at the center of the now-truncated pine.  Walking – and driving – through a lightning field, if you survive, is an affirmative experience. If you survive.)

8 thoughts on ““The Oak Street* Rapids”

  1. Our big century-oaks – mostly Live Oak (Quercus Quercus) will see 250-350 years of age and some other varieties go near six-feet and often more in diameter when the measured at chest height. But they all are shallow-rooted and subject to both limb- and tree fall in high winds. The hill overlooking Lake Monroe in Sanford used to be covered in a massive oak grove in which the sheltering shade bade migrating native bands moving from the interior to the seacoast for shellfish and fishing operations during the winter months and back to the oaks in the summer had the added benefit of sheltering humans and other fauna from the destructive effects of hurricanes and their tornado-spawn. When the entire hill was covered by a massive oak grove the resultant hurricane-spawned tunadic winds stayed atop the trees’ crown and thus helped protect ground-level habitation. The natives used the St. Johns River and its many tributaries – The Wekiva one of my favorites when growing up (you could drink by cupped hand from its crystal clear 72-degree year-round springfed waters well into the 1980s before gunk from outboard motors changed all that – for crabbing, fishing, hunting and gardening. There was trade via balsa-wood rafts from The Yucutan and northern South America along its Caribbean coastal areas – to Florida and The Carolinas by way of a “bump” in The Gulf Stream (which warms The British Isles and Europe as well) which creates a throw-off effect to South Carolina and Florida. Trade goods flowing both directions have been found all along Central- and North American shorelines and interiors, and there is evidence of overland trade toutes – by way of similar deposits of such trade goods to The Great Lakes and Coastal New England and southward through The Midwest – and not just via The Mississippi – and beyond. Despite not building with steel and glass and “modern” materials, Native Americans had a rich and varied culture, economy and tradition. More than guns and competitive agricultural and economic practices, disease did in the pastoral idyllic – and often false-to-fact – times. Jarod (Jarrod?) Diamond has written extensively in his academic but no-less enthralling, works.

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  2. I know, I really do know. Gotta work on accepting compliments gracefully. But near ever time I so do a phart finds its way outside my britches – or better (worse). A modest Marine? I know. They’re gonna take away my extra arrogance ration I keep that up. Again, Shehanne, thanks for the kind words. I will continue to extol my space (pardonable pun?) in this shiny blue marble with white and green and brown and at night enough light to say to Eater-EaTees here be tidbits! but I console me with sure knowled (hope?) the doings this far out on an insignificant spiral arm of a small galaxy well away from The Center of All Things will get but an occasional visit by an automated “vacuum cleaner” whose downloads to headquarters will be “headed” by the apropos remark: “Same Stuff played here two eons post, and they have but passable hootch.”

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