Stephen Baker

The Boost
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Driving to the Florida of run-away slaves

December 21, 2012General

In the last week, we've spent four days driving to and from Cape Coral, Fl., and only three full days down there. Long trip, but I'm glad we took it. How else are you going to keep up, if only in a small way, with South Carolina?

Below are some photos from a walk we took in Ft. Myers' Six Mile Cypress Slough. It's a great walk, if you're in the area. The only downside, as so often in modern life, is the roar from the nearby highway. These pix are far better without the soundtrack.

Early in the walk, we came across this osprey in the tree. He (or she) had just caught a big fish. Now he was struggling to hold onto the branch with one talon, and hold the fish in place with the other while he tried to eat it. This isn't the best picture of the bird, but you get a good look at the fish. After a few minutes, the fish fell 20 feet to the ground, and sadly, gave what might have been its final flap as we crept by it.

Below, what looks to me like a melancholic little blue heron

Water moccasin (Snakes are very good at staying still for photos.)

I had a freelance article to write (and rewrite) down there. (More about that, I hope, in early January) We stayed in a hotel that only cost $69 a night. Enough noise filtered in from Del Prado Blvd that you'd never call it idyllic. But it did back onto one of the many canals in Cape Coral. In short, a good place to write, when wearing sound-cancelling headphones and not distracted by the view.

On the drive back, near Ocala, we stopped at the Dade Historic Battle Site, where the Seminoles won their biggest victory over the U.S. Army. On one afternoon in 1835 they killed about 100 soldiers, including five West Point educated officers, who were marching through their land. The U.S. was already engaged in clearing the Seminoles out of Florida, and to Oklahoma. But this defeat harded Washington's resolve. I had not realized before this visit that the problem with Seminoles, from a white Southern perspective, was that they welcomed runaway slaves. So sending them to Oklahoma slammed shut a precious sanctuary. I would imagine that this slavery question weighed heavier in the equation than a desire to settle their swampy, mosquito- and malaria-ridden homeland. Whites didn't settle those areas in great numbers until the age of air-conditioning.

The battlefield today is covered with beautiful live oaks drooping with Spanish moss.


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