Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Meandering

I really thought that on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, people would be looking forward to getting out of the house and coming to the park.  I am really lousy at predicting when the park will be busy.  I think that football struck again and kept many people glued to the TV or going to the game.  Troy springs is pretty much, right in between FSU and UF.  One is one and a half hours to the northwest and the other, one hour away to the southeast.  It was also COLD!  It was below 55 degrees when I went to work this morning and that is just too cold for me.  After making my morning drive, putting up the flags, and opening the gate, I retreated to my office to get warm again.  I stayed in to do all of the paperwork that I could while the sun did its best to warm things up.  When I finally braved the cold and left my office, I opened up the cabin and then headed down to the river.  It was really beautiful down there.  There was still a bit of fog remaining over the water and it was swirling!  I took a couple of pictures, but I didn't think that they would do the phenomena any justice.  Just take a minute and sit by the river with me.  Listen to the hawks, woodpeckers, and crows and watch the fog move.

I spotted something else by the river that I have been watching for lately.  I saw the first Gar of the season.  The Gar will spawn at the spring around February, but they begin "staging" or congregating at the mouth of the spring around December each year.  I'm sure they will be around long enough for me to get some better photos later, but I had to catch the first one!

I still didn't hear anyone in the park, so I took the scenic route around.  I followed the spring bank from the river to the spring dock.  I am always impressed by the formations of the lime rock around the spring.  Every one is unique.  They are like clouds, you could sit and look at them and find faces or elephants or cars.  It is also really fascinating to see what happens when a tree gets involved with a rock formation.  The two can grow together in really odd ways.  This photo is of just the root area of a tree on the spring back.  There are rocks tucked away in all of the roots and another type of tree was growing through them and next to the main trunk of this tree.  This is one determined tree!

When I made it to the spring dock and headed up the walkway, I made some unusual discoveries.  I wish I could give you more information on what I found, but the next three photos are mysteries to me.  The first may be a cocoon of some sort, but I wasn't able to find a definite ID.  It looked soft and fluffy, but I didn't touch it because we have some stinging caterpillars that also look similarly soft and fluffy.  I didn't want to take my chances.  The next encounter was with a very small Sweet Gum Tree.  It had small spikes on may of its branches.  I wonder if they are Galls.  I couldn't get any answers on that one either.  Finally, I stumbled upon a tiny Anole that appeared to have some deformities.  Its lower back has an unusual bump and its tail was kinked.  The little lizard did not appear to be limited by its challenges.  It was able to scurry off quickly when I got too close.

There was still no one in the park.  I searched for a project to busy myself with.  I decided to finish up a project that was started last week.  I bought new tires for one of the carts that we allow divers to use to haul their gear up and down the walkway.  Unfortunately, the tires available to me did not fit the cart exactly and needed some modification.  I worked with our volunteer to solve the problem and got the cart rolling again.

Finally, people started to drift in slowly.  There was a family of brave snorkelers (with warm, thick wetsuits), a few families just stopping in to show the park to a visiting family member or to stretch their legs because they were on a long drive.  By the late afternoon, we even had one group of divers.  I spent the day with the different groups of people, greeting them, answering their questions, and occupying myself between groups.  Another tiny project that I tackled was to apply graphite to the locks on the iron ranger (payment collection metal box) and the gate.  The locks are always exposed to moisture so they get stiff and hard to close.  The powdered graphite does a great job of drying up the moisture and smoothing things down so that the lock glides easily.

Between the iron ranger and the gate, I encountered the Turkeys.  I noticed something about them though.  They were unusually calm, and out late in the day.  I'm sure that they knew Thanksgiving was over and they were safe.  I was able to take several pictures before I moved on.  I didn't want to get too close, they might have smelled turkey sandwich on my breath!

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