Womack creek has become our sanity place — away from the discordant sounds of a society ripping itself apart.
January on the creek, with its bare trees, often gloomy days, can be spiritually invigorating.
Witness these sights, taken on January 12 and February 4, 2017. There is always a serendipitous moment, nature’s surprises, on the creek. Depending one one’s take on life, these can be elevating or depressing. Like all before us, nature serves as a metaphor for life itself. We prefer the more hopeful interpretations, even as we see our species destroy the source of the metaphors.
To start the year — a gator and a cooter: predator and prey both sunning on a January day.
And on that same day, a surprising stem of green fly orchids. My mother used to grow orchids of all types in Honolulu and I grew up taking orchids for granted. We’re finding them blooming all year round, not just here, but on many creeks and rivers we paddle in North Florida (and even on the Ocklawaha River in central Florida).
They’re liking looking for violets in a lawn, concealed well, but upon discovery, what a thrill! They’re the only native tree orchids in North Florida.
In February, one begins to see in the marshy, dark brown muck along the creek, little shoots of gold — Golden clubs. The velvety leaves in varying hues of green are also beautiful.
A crisp February day, blue sky, slow moving river greeted us on February 4, 2017.
The entrance to Womack creek (going upstream) is to the left, the Ochlockonee River on the right. Increasingly that intervening land is being cut off from the rest of the peninsula and a small island will result. The soil taken from that cut is being deposited in front of that section and spatterdocks now are growing, where it once was too deep for these plants to take root and thrive.
Even in February, some flowers are beginning to show, some ahead of the usual flowering, others on schedule.
These are (from top left going clockwise) Walter’s viburnum, usually seen as early as late December; clematis crispa, usually seen blooming in March through the summer and early fall; Florida maple, Pinxter azaleas, some early blooms seen in late February, the peak usually being April; and under it blueberry blossoms, usually starting in January with fruits as early as mid-May, and the buds of the pumpkin ash tree.
And camouflaged, a small sparrow.
Anticipating warmer temperatures, an early spatterdock bud. These do not appear till March, usually, but the creek has many different micro-climates and sheltered areas which affect the blooming periods of the plants.