Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ebb and Flow

I was pleased to see that the park drive had dried up enough to open the park today.  I was disappointed that the river had come up another foot.  Its a little strange coming to work everyday and not knowing exactly what things will look like.  Will there be more water here or less water there?  Will there be branches on the ground or whole trees on the ground?  What random thing will float by?
On my drive through the park, I found the park drive passable.  It was not completely dry, but any roadworthy vehicle would make it through.  The exit road was completely dry.  When I opened the gate, I removed the temporarily closed sign, put the flags up and headed to the office.

I turned on the computer and checked the river level, it was higher than it was in December.  I looked at the levels up river and they are still rising.  That means that it will be even higher tomorrow.  Not really looking forward to seeing how high the water was in person, I decided to tackle some other tasks first.  I mounted a cautionary sign to a saw horse to warn people of the small amount of water that was still on the road and took it out toward the entrance.  When the sign was in place, I went to work on the little garden in front of our entrance sign.  The plants are native plants that don't require any attention at all.  The dark green Coontie plants had been damaged in the recent frost though.  They each had several dead, brown stalks mixed with the live, green ones.  To keep our entrance looking nice, I trimmed off the brown stalks.  In the early summer, new green stalks will grow, just like they did last year.  Take a look at the before and after.

You may notice that there are some red stalks at the base of the bundles of green.  Coontie are dioecious, meaning that each plant is either male or female.  The leaves on each plant look the same, but a cone grows from the ground that distinguishes the sexes.  The male cone, shown below, holds sacs of pollen under each scale.

The female cone, shown below, is where the seed production happens.  Pollen can be transferred from plant to plant via wind, or insect.  The female cones scales will separate which allows the pollen to make contact.  Later, the cone will break apart and the seeds will fall to the ground.  Other insects will break down the husk around the seed so that it is able to germinate.

After the Coontie garden was freshened up, I drove back to the main area of the park.  I saw that a tree had fallen near the parking lot.  It was not in a pathway, it missed the concrete, and it was not in a mowed area, so it will stay where it is to provide habitat to creatures who enjoy moist, decaying logs.

I finally headed down to the spring, to see how far the water had come up.  It had rounded the first corner of the walkway near the spring dock.  No more than a foot of the railing of the spring dock was still out of the water.

Because there were no rocks or gently sloped banks available for the turtles, some had found another solution.  These three turtles managed to climb aboard this floating log that was making its way around the spring.  These turtles were making the most of this warm day.

When I made my way to the river area, I saw that debris had started to float down the river.  A part of someone's dock had settled directly across the river.  Its former owners must not have been prepared for the rising water.

Our favorite tree was just an ordinary tree, up to its trunk in water.  I just don't know what its holding on to, but I'm glad that it holds its ground flood after flood.

When I returned to my office after my walk, I did the paperwork and started doing some research on thermostat wiring.  I have new programmable thermostats for all of the park buildings to improve our energy efficiency.  After doing a lot of reading and manual consulting and chart making, I determined that I need different thermostats for at least two of the buildings.  The old, mercury switch thermostat will take a little more research.  My list of things to get or return to the hardware store is getting longer.  I will probably have to make a trip this week.  It was a pretty quiet day.  I did speak to two very brief visitors.  They were hoping the spring would dry up soon so that they could fish for some Mullet.  I assured them that I was hoping for the same thing.


Understanding Alice said...

I love the sun bathing turtles :)

Ranger Amy said...

I love them too.