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There's a Hole In the Bottom of the Sea

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Reid TilleyIt's not often that my nearly grown teen son wants to get out on the water with me. Truth is I was so independent when I was his age that I left home, striking out on my own. I was too hard-headed to know any better. Thankfully, he has a better head on his shoulders - probably thanks to his mom. I left home not long before turning 18 and never went back. Looking in the rear view mirror, I'm not sure now that my mile-wide independent streak has served me well in life. What a blessing that he does not seem to have the same disposition.

Nevertheless, between school, work, girlfriend, church, hog hunting and chores, there isn’t a lot of time left in the day to kayak mullet fish with dear old dad. But, when we do manage to find the time, it becomes a day or evening full of memories.

Reid TilleyHis mom and I still laugh that one of the first fully developed words he ever uttered as a toddler was the word “out”. He was standing at the back door of our house in Pensacola, looking through the glass, when he turned and looked at us and said “OUT!”  It has been that way ever since. I have never had to worry about dragging that boy from in front of the television and banishing him to the out-of-doors. It’s been more of a problem to get him to slow down long enough to come inside and get a good eight hours of sleep.

We both saw about a week in advance that there was set to be a negative .7 tide in the harbor. We both knew what that meant. A negative .7 literally drains the water out of the bay.  Where we like to fish, the Harbor would be as dry as a bone. So we put in the kayaks early in the day, while the harbor was still flooded, and paddled across to the bars and marsh islands on the other side. Soon, we were seeing the telltale swirls of the fishy protests that mullet like to give when you enter their kingdom.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 07 July 2013 09:42 ) Read more...

Viva Florida 500

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Viva Florida 500Time has left the trail of the past and arrives at the doorstep of 2013. During this year fortune will smile on Florida as she celebrates a very special birthday marking 500 years of Spanish presence and influence that has shaped the heritage of our state. For it was in 1513 that Ponce de Leon and his small fleet of ships landed off the Atlantic Coast to mark the beginning of the longest recorded history ever of any American state. Columbus may have discovered the Americas in 1492, but European influence in Florida far predates the establishment of Jamestown, Virginia in 1602 and the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620. La Florida, “land of flowers” how fitting a name Ponce de Leon christened our state, dazzled by the vibrant blooming colors he saw set intensely against the glittering waters of the coast.

Last Updated ( Monday, 18 March 2013 20:30 ) Read more...

Sopchoppy Time Travel

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Sopchoppy Train DepotWho knew we could slip so easily back into time the way we did that day? I had arrived at the Sopchoppy Depot one Saturday morning and settled myself on the steps facing Rose Avenue. From this vantage position I could watch the quaint rural town on the southwest edge of Wakulla County come to midmorning life. Now and then a pick-up truck rattled by, its occupants running leisurely the errands that waited for Saturday mornings. Next door shopkeeper Pat Bishop swept the porch of Posh Java in preparation of the day. The kitties-in-residence darted across the front lawn where soon Jack Simmons of Crescent Moon Organic Farm would set up with other vendors for the weekly grower’s market. Directly across the road I watched as a car pulled into the sandy parking lot of the Senior Citizen’s Thrift Store. A small dog leaps out as the car door opensjack russell and speeds like a bullet aimed deliberately in my direction across the quiet street. This little furry ball of energy lands squarely beside me, wags his lively tail and looks up eagerly for a scratch behind his ears. Now how could I refuse?

Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 November 2012 09:52 ) Read more...

Helen Drives Ms. Mattie

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monarchCertified Green Guide Helen Cooper has always loved butterflies. She is a native to Wakulla County and grew up chasing butterflies near her home in downtown Crawfordville when children could run in the street by the Courthouse because the only traffic was on the weekend when folks drove south to the coast. She is a descendant of the Roberts and Tuckers on her daddy’s side, and kin to the Taffs and Carraways through her mama. If you live around these parts, you will know the generations of these longstanding families. If not, a drive through the county will quickly acquaint you with these names familiar on street signs, assorted businesses and buildings.

Helen became a Green Guide through the Tallahassee Community College Ecotourism Institute because she is drawn to the outdoors and the discovery of details specific to area flora and fauna. She especially enjoys nature photography. It was at one St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Monarch Butterfly Festival several years Monachsago when Helen went to photograph butterflies, that she became enamored with the beauty of the monarch. Soon afterwards, she became a volunteer for the Monarch Project where she learned to count, capture and tag monarchs travelling on their epic 2,000 mile journey from the northern American boundary to the mountains of central Mexico. Millions of monarchs pass through the river corridors and along Florida’s Gulf coast to get to a certain 70 square mile forest located in central Mexico. It takes four generations for the butterflies to finally reach their destination where they spend their winter hibernation in the very same trees each and every year. This incredible migratory phenomenon happens here in our area beginning about the third week of October and lasts until mid-November.

“When you help others, you help yourself,” says Helen insightfully.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 October 2012 21:19 ) Read more...

By the Light of the Moon

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That big, fat moon is gonna shine like a spoon. But we’re gonna let it. You won’t regret it” – Bob Dylan lyrics

full moonIt had been like any other hot, humid mid-summer day in the Deep South part of North Florida. The heat rose that afternoon along with our anticipation of being witness to history in the making that we would recount some future day to our own grandchildren. At least that is what our Mother had assured, and declared that we would all stay up late to watch for ourselves on the little black and white TV – even the youngest ones. Mother was like that. It was our wonder years and she had already passed to each of us her kindred spirit for adventure. Earlier that afternoon we had witnessed the historic landing, and now as the hours ticked by, we eagerly waited the promised pinnacle to watch proudly as the American flag was firmly planted on the frontier lunar ground.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 November 2012 18:51 ) Read more...
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