Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - June 14, 2007)
Dreaming of manatees
Storms are a way of life in Florida. We prepare for them and most days we expect
afternoon showers. Of course, some summers are wetter than others.
|Photo by LINDA TILKA
|Manatees take advantage of a
Last summer was one well remember when extra showers and storms brought
cooling rains that replenished our lakes, water reservoirs and rivers. It was
perfect weather for exploring the rivers of north Florida.
My partner and I slipped our kayaks from the river bank into the clear spring
waters, we checked the clouds overhead that were beginning to billow upwards. The
rains wouldnt keep us from going out but might keep us a little closer to
land than usual. We discussed our plans.
Lets head out onto open water first before it gets too hot and then
spend the remaining part of the day discovering coves, bays and springs, my
We easily viewed the rivers nursery of a thousand fish through clear waters.
Schools of shimmering silver flashes darted back and forth while other larger fish
swam next to the kayaks as if in rhythm with us.
Box turtles sunned themselves upon fallen trees while the occasional alligator
drifted closer to get a better look at us strangers upon his sacred alligator turf.
We glided stealthily under live oaks festooned with thick hanging Spanish moss.
Peacefully and quietly we paddled the river for five wonderful hours then we
re-entered the bay where wed first launched our boats. Neither of us was
ready to head home.
Although the clouds were closing in, we felt safe and not the least bit exhausted
within the steep banks and sheltered waters. It was here where our adventure really
began. We paddled to the clear 72 degree spring waters to observe divers descend
below to the open caverns.
Afterward we learned that for hundreds of years the Timucuan Indians had made this
spring area their home. The spring is also home to the endangered manatee.
Wed observed a manatee earlier that morning at a distance. Now it was getting
late and we were beginning to feel the fatigue of our adventure setting upon us, so
we agreed to head for home.
At that very moment manatees suddenly appeared before our kayaks. One not-so-shy
manatee visited closely to our kayaks and even swam up to my hand. We felt honored,
not to mention excited.
All weariness vanished from our bodies and minds. We floated along with the
manatees. They swam under us and around us. One lazily chomped on water lettuce
while the other one swam back and forth between us giving us each the once over.
Satisfied, she lingered a while then joined her partner then as quickly as they
came they slipped away into infinity.
Nature allows us the time to rejuvenate and put our ordeals behind us.
Nature is genuine.
Later that night the thunderstorms rolled in. The tin roof of our rustic cabin
sang rain songs as we dreamed of manatees upon cool, aqua-blue waters, peacefully
lulled in sleep, back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.