WOW! What a wonderful day on the water today.
Last Friday, this guy and his daughter checked into the hotel
where I work. They were the son and granddaughter of a very
dear friend of mine from Ohio. Well, I met the little girl and that
was it. Within 3 minutes, we were out on the hotel grounds on the
great lizard hunt of '99. We must have chased lizards and bugs for
an hour. Next thing I know, I'm coming into work early every night,
just to chase lizards and bugs.
She's a great little girl. 10 years old and wants to be an entomologist
when she grows up. I kept trying to tell her not to grow up, but I don't
think she understood. Her dad has been taking her on the typical Mouse
Tour of Florida... Disney, Epcot, Universal.. all of those boring places
that everyone just HAS to go to. I asked and was granted permission to
take her out to the river with me this morning.
At 7am, before I could even punch out, there she was waiting. We
hopped into the car and headed on down the road. A stop for gas and
sodies and we were at the river. Because of the shuttle launch, I
couldn't get out to my favorite stomping grounds, and was rather
upset. We stopped right there on the "beach" south of Parrish Park
and before the guard shack.
Seems maybe I went and grew up too much myself. I guess I had
forgotten all of the wonders way down there on the ground. Turns
out we didn't need to go out to my stomping grounds.
Michelle is a bundle of energy. Up and down she zipped. We chased
crabs and horseshoe crabs and bugs and lizards and watched minnows
swimming near the shore and played with snails and caught everything
we could get our hands on. It was neat being back down on that level again.
As we were leaving there for the next spot, a huge herd of manatees
started breaching the water and with a nice slam of the brakes and
detour back off the road, we were there on the bank watching for
about 15 minutes.
Off to Scottsmoor Landing next, where the largest crab congregation
I had ever seen was going on. Maybe I've seen it before, just never
NOTICED. Us big people do that you know.... anyway, talk about
2 kids being in hog heaven. We had a blast over there. We sat and
watched what HAD to be some kind of mating ritual. I am not certain
as I have never studied the mating rituals of fiddler crabs, but I've
tended enough bars to recognize the scenario anywhere. Huge
congregations of males and females... males hanging out strutting
their stuff, females rushing up to check them out and the ones with
the biggest claws always winning. The male and female disappearing
down his hole. Yup... had to be what it was. We talked about it for a
while and chased some more crabs.
Then we spent a half and hour chasing the biggest yellow grasshopper
she had ever seen in her WHOOOOOLE life around. Around the cove
we went and wouldn't you know it.. there was half of a gallon milk
container. I picked it up, put a little dirt, grass and water in it and the
next 5 or 6 crabs we caught went in the bucket and we left.
By the time we reached the North Dike Road, all of the crabs were
named and she somehow knew the difference between them all.
Heck by halfway down the road, I knew all of their names and
how to tell them apart. Mother Nature sure put on one heck of
a show for us. Probably she does it every day, you just have to
look through the eyes of a 10 year old to see it.
We saw sandhill cranes (Wow! They are noisy, aren't they?) Blue
Herons (I can't believe they are so big. They are so beautiful!)
Dolphins (Oh man! I always wanted to swim with the dolphins. . .
this is the first time I ever saw one for real in my whoooooole life!)
Alligators (Do they bite?) Snakes (Can we catch him pleeeeeeease?
and we did) Osprey (that looks like an eagle, oh neat! he's got a
fish!!!) Wood storks (What is he doing with his wing??) Frogs (Can
I keep him???)... the list goes on and on. Finally we left that road
and were off to Haulover.
No manatees at the manatee observation deck, but plenty of boaters
who were more than happy to wave at us. I think she could have sat
there all day waving back at them.
Over to the boat ramp at Haulover. I mistakenly let Claw, her favorite
fiddler go and had to go through some serious muck to recapture him.
Man those little things are fast! Over to the other side and then outta there.
Hit Duck Roost Cove on the way out. Neat stuff there... it was a
horseshoe crab graveyard/nursery. We caught a bunch of dime
sized horseshoe crabs and looked at them and walked across a
thousand dead ones. Saw some tailing reds, watched a school
of mullet, tried to catch minnows, laughed at a pelican and identified
a few bugs after we caught them.
I was saddened when it was time to get her back. To know that in
two days she will be leaving just about breaks my heart. I wonder
why it is that she looked at me so funny when I told her thank you.
I guess she may not ever understand. . . or maybe one day when she
is all 'grown up' she may have an experience similar to this and know.
I dropped her off and found myself wishing I wasn't so darn tall all
of a sudden.
I'd have to say that today was one of the finest days I have ever had
on the river. No rods, no pressure, no tunnel vision, no hurry. Just me
getting down on the level of my friend and seeing things all over again
for the first time. All of her innocence and wonderment rubbed off and
for just the slightest of seconds. . .I was a kid again. Man, it was great!
When I returned her to her father at noon, he saw her first. . . "Michelle!!
How on earth did you get so dirty?"
Then around the corner I came!
Suddenly it was, "Michelle! How on earth did you stay so clean!"
Yup. . . I bet another hour and we would have made mudpies. THEN
he could think dirty. . . ~ Tammy DiGristine