Monday, July 13, 2009

Marvelous Monday

I apologize for the late post. Evening thunderstorms have interrupted my computering. The power has gone out once and the internet connection has been spotty, which really makes the lengthy process of uploading photos difficult. I don't mind getting the rain at night if we can keep getting these sunny days though. We had more than 2 inches of rain last night, but today was really a beautiful day. There was a light fog this morning, so the lighting was amazing for picture taking and the birds were active. I have been hearing one of the young hawks behind my house every morning for the past week. This morning, it was above the driveway as I was leaving the house and I got a photo of him just before he flew away. On my morning drive through the park, I spotted one of the owls. I think that it was the more skittish of the two juvenile owls that I had seen before. I didn't see the other, I wonder if they are spending more time on their own now... they are growing up. I wasn't able to get a good shot of the owl, it didn't seem to like me watching it so I moved on.
The shot of the dirt road and the light through the trees is my commute every morning. I see this view every sunny morning on my little, 1/2 mile drive to work. Views like that make up for the garbage that I pick up and the restrooms that I clean.

The birds and I weren't the only ones out enjoying the day, I was finally able to get some good photos of Stubby, the fence lizard. She was very patient today (or maybe she hadn't warmed up enough yet).
After the park was open, I settled in for the Monday paperwork. I was done by 9:30 and already had a couple of divers. Its been a while since I have seen anyone in the park on a Monday morning. Its great! I went to Ichetucknee and dropped off my paperwork, printed some brochures for the park and said hello to everyone in the office. I picked up lunch in town on the way back and stopped at home to pick up my swimsuit. I wasn't going to miss swimming on a day like this and I really did have some work to do in the spring.
When I got back to the park, I saw that there were two more divers, a few families, and some free divers (breath holders) that were regulars before the flood. After greeting all of them and answering a few questions, I was anxious to get in the water. On my way back up the walkway I saw a Lubber crawling on the railing. Lubbers are another very fun thing about Florida, giant grasshoppers!! This one is not even full grown, you can see that its wings don't cover its abdomen yet.
I had a few more things to do before I could get wet though. With all the rain we have had, I had to empty the rain barrels. We installed rain barrels with the gutters at the cabin in an effort to slow the hillside erosion around the cabin. Now, I control where the rainwater falls. When I empty the barrels, I run a hose away from the hillside where there is a tree or a lot of grass. It takes a while for each barrel to drain so I usually hook up the hose and walk away to do something else. When I got home today and looked at my photos, I realized that I was only half-way done when I left. Oops, its on the list for tomorrow.
There was still a tree down on the trail that I had to take care of. It was not a very big tree, but it made a big mess when it fell. It took out quite a few saplings and everything was covered in grapevines and smylax (strong, mean and prickly) vines. I got the tree chopped up quickly, but once I started clearing up the smaller mess, the chain came off of the chainsaw. I started to work on it out on the trail, but I was too hot and impatient and the saw was really to hot to work on. I went back to the shop feeling defeated because the project was almost done, but I was too hot. In the air conditioned shop, I cleaned the saw with the air compressor and put the chain back in place. I tightened it all up and by then had cooled down enough to finish the job. It really didn't take much time at all to get the small tree mess cleared and the logs loaded onto the gator. The majority of the downed wood I left in the woods for ecological processes to happen, the logs that blocked the trail I took to the fire ring where boy scouts camp by the barn.
By then, I was hot and tired and more than ready for a swim. I had to check the buoy line. I noticed yesterday that it looked a little off. My volunteers told me that there was a rowdy group in the park on Saturday. When they were asked to leave, they broke the buoy line on the way out. Its rare to have things like that happen in the park, but it is a public place. I jumped in the water (the only way to get into cold spring water is quickly) and was happy to see that it was really much clearer than the last time I was swimming. I got a lot of clear photos of the Madison and even saw some fish and a turtle. I was also able to get a decent shot of the line where the clear spring water and the tannic river water meet. Its a pretty clear line from the surface to the bottom. You can see the shadow of the buoys on the bottom of the spring. When I looked at the buoys, I saw that it would be an easy fix. I still had plenty of leftover cable from re-cabling the buoys a couple years ago. The break is close to one side and I will be able to string it through, add a few clamps and it will be good as new. Easy in theory anyway. We'll see if the weather will cooperate with me to get it done.

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