“Lone Sail, Large Lake, Windy Wednesday”

(May 1, 2019

lone small sail stepping

on a four-mile ‘beat’ across

Lake Monroe’s width

pushed by a steady

southern breeze – forty-four squares*

Wednesday windy treat

this pre-frontal noon

foils the fully employed ‘nauts

foul wet winds on tap

already cotton

ball baby cumulus ride

from ‘proaching east storms

*(Lake Monroe in Central Florida, located on the northern borders of Sanford, is 11 miles long East-to-West and four miles wide and forms one of three shallow spots along Welaka (which we call The Saint Johns River) which the Timucua called “chain of lakes” with another lake, Jessup, forming Sanford’s southern and eastern boundary and just a little further East lies Lake Harney – the latter two large lakes named for Army generals who led troops in Central and South Florida during the Seminole Indian Wars of the early and mid 19th Century. The St. Johns is navigable from Sanford through Jacksonville, some 200 of its 300+ miles of waterway, emptying to the Atlantic Ocean at Jacksonville Beach. Until the early part of the 20th Century, water travel, both commercial and passenger depended on the river for North-South central state traffic, with railroads taking their turn at leadership mid-century and after The War Between The States earlier, especially along the East coast Fuel oil, gasoline and dry goods moved by barge down the center of the state by river with rail traffic taking larger commercial and industrail commodities by early 20th Century – and the occasional moonshiner intruding with flat-bottomed commercial-style fishing craft towing submerged 200- and 300-gallon “blivets” of raw “shine” up to Palatka where it was offloaded – by tradition as much as cunning, since a large sandbar blocked much larger boat traffic from the upper St. Johns through the latter half of the 19th Century. Stern and paddle-wheel boats which now ply the St. Johns were all the interior traffic available until rail moved inland to Sanford, Lake Mary and Orlando to serve South Florida. For a brief period central state citrus – and pineapples – were “sledged” East from Sanford to The Indian River between Mims and Titusville, where they were loaded onto “packet” sailing ships bound for Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and beyond. Freezes and commercial rail and refrigerated truck traffic ended all that. The state did not have a continuously paved truck and automobile roadway until the mid-1920s, and it ended near Lake Placid, just above Lake Okeechobee. In many respects Florida remains a frontier state, as a trip to Southwest Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands from Fort Myers to Cape Sable readily could convince the tourist. Tyros still get lost in the mangrove-ringed “islands” some of which are located on “Lost Man’s River,” a name both apocryphal and actual even today/ Now, the St. Johns and its several tributaries mostly are for recreation, though commercial fishing – and crabbing (Blue Crab adapted to fresh water spring-fed runs abound and are commercial harvested, especially in and around Lake George, the most massive lake in Welaka’s string of pearls) – and the casual weekday waterman can have his motorized, human- or wind-powered pleasure most any day not named Saturday or Sunday. Plenty of stops for sustenance and sippenance and fuel for the engine – and overnight accommodations both private and rental – abound. Every few decades, however some doofus resurrects the notion of a Cross-Florida Canal, sundering several important underground freshwater passages, not to mention, inviting further salt-water intrusions. But I have come to a bifurcation: perhaps a cross-state canal could have a use: into which we could throw visitors from “up-nawff” who decided to stay and raise their own garden of wacko ideas about how best to improve Florida. We already know: convince about two million – or more – of y’all to move back to Ohio!)

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