Living in a Zoo...

One of the many reasons that I enjoy living in Jacksonville is its proximity to wildlife. I left the office yesterday and stepped into a beautiful afternoon. The temperature was in the low 90s, and the humidity was almost non-existent. That's a rarity in the South in late July, as most of our days here are just as hot and steamy as an afternoon at the dry cleaners.

I came home and found my girls, both of them enjoying their summer vacation, just home from the pool. They seem to live in swimming suits this time of the year, and they always smell like sunscreen. It's nice.

I wanted to take advantage of the day, so I had an early dinner and lit out for Blue Cypress, a local golf club that is just so typically Old Florida. Blue Cypress is a fairly easy track. The clubhouse is a double-wide trailer with a big screen television and a bunch of card tables. Thursday night is steak night, when they grill up New York strips on a huge outdoor grill for about forty golfers that know each other by name.

They always have a kind word for their patrons.

It's a nice little place. I picked up a couple of Pabst tallboys ($1.50) and went out for nine holes. During my round, I saw a gopher tortoise, a number of jumping bass and warmouths, a big ol' Florida hare, a couple of wood storks, a flock of cattle egrets, a few herons and, possibly, the fleeting immersion of an alligator in the pond off of the sixth green.

In recent years, we've had opportunities to leave Florida, but it's places like Blue Cypress that make me feel such a strong connection to this place. The truth is, whether its armadillos and bobcats and alligators or just the garden-variety reptile menagerie that lives on my back porch and in amongst the tomato bushes, living here is kind of like living in a nature preserve.

I remember a few years ago, Jeanne and I were hiking the Willow Pond trail at Fort Clinch.

"There have to be alligators all around here," I told her. "They're watching us. I know it."

"But where are they?" she replied.

I crouched, Steve Zissou-style, and waded into the brush. There, not four feet away, was a maneater (probably eight feet long) hiding in the brush. He had duckweed all over his snout and he watched us with those cold, unblinking eyes.

Jeez, I got out of there quick.

It's a neat thing, finding places that are still so primal. I know that a golf course, of all places, doesn't fit that bill, but it makes for interesting days nevertheless...


Karen from Mentor said...

a possible alligator on the sixth green? I'd call that a water hazard. In Ohio all one has to worry about while golfing is overexposure to chemicals.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Hi Karen,

It's great to hear from you! Yeah, those wily gators make it fun to play golf out here. I had a friend from Oregon who just let his ball go when he found a six-footer sunning himself five feet from where it fell.

I love to watch them. I hold up the golf sometimes just observing them from the tee.

I hope the writing is flowing, and that all in your world is going well!

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