Monday, May 18, 2015

All Sorts of Waters - Wild Beach Pictures

We went to the beach yesterday and that is what inspired me to write about all the different kinds of waters I've been to. I took pictures too so I'll be working them in throughout the text even though its not directly related.

I've had a pretty eclectic experience when it comes to growing up with different kinds of waters. Our family has always been active and my parents made a point to take us as many places as they could.

One of those places was the mountains. Mom and Dad would take the four of us kids (this was long before Jubal was born) on weekend camping trips so often that we practically didn't have time to put our sleeping bags away. We lived in South Carolina at the time so went to the Smokey Mountains, which is at the tail end of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. The drive was part of the adventure and I remember being able to recognize the roads because we went that way so often. Up there in the clouds we would go on hiking trips or playing in the freezing cold mountain streams, sliding down slippery rocks or standing underneath pounding waterfalls and swimming in the pools formed below them.

When we weren't in the mountains we would go to the lake. There was a lake called Lake Hartwell (we called it Lake Cartwheel) that we frequented. Once we had a bonfire there with some friends and Uncle Mike melted the souls of his shoes and my friend Emily swallowed a fish and got sick. Someone else got their fishing line stuck in a tree. Once time I went walking along the red clay shore a long ways from the group an found an old log and some dog poop. Other lakes we visited were Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee which were much bigger and colder. I remember some kind of party at one of these big lakes. We went boating and water skiing and I almost lost my goggles. Another time I went with my friend for her birthday to Lake Keowee. There was a low rock cliff face, probably about thirty feet, and at the foot of the cliff a shallow shelf of rock just beneath the water . At the top of the cliff blue lines were painted on the rock and if you ran and jumped far enough out you would miss the rocks below and land safely in the icy cold water. I was there with my friend and her brother and their dad said he would give us a dollar if we would jumped off. Of course a dollar was a substantial sum of money in my mind back then so quick as a wink I ran through the blue lines and launched myself into the air. The fall was thrilling and folks cheered me when they saw my head bob up from the lake below. My friend and her brother were too scared and eventually their Dad said he would give them five dollars so they jumped too. I was mad at my friends because they got more money than me.

Close to home we would play in the creek that ran through the woods behind our neighborhood. We played Tarzan and swung on the vines over the water and built dams and bridges. In one particular spot we had a clay mine where we dug up grey clay and used it to make little bowls and other trifles. They weren't very good and we wanted to process the clay so that it would be clean and workable but we were never able to do it. At friends houses there were creeks too so we always had our feet in the water.

Another place our parents would take us was to Gulf Shores Alabama to visit my grandparents. They lived on the Bon Secour river in a marsh. The water there was warm, brackish, and the mud was very slimy. Dad and Grandpa would take us out in the canoes and we would explore the island in the middle or go to the fishery down river. At the fishery there were medium sized boats that seemed extremely big tome at the time. We would dock our canoes on the poky shore of discarded oyster shells and, look at the boats. One time one of the captains showed us around his ship. We saw the nets and the mast, the sleeping quarters and tiny bathroom, we even saw a radar in the cabin! I'm not sure what that little fishing boat needs a radar for but it had one. Back at my grandparent house we would get out the nets and go fishing for crabs and other little fish. There were all sorts of creatures living in the marsh like alligators, lots of birds, jelly fish, and dolphins and I never grew tired of hearing Grandma tell us all about them. We went swimming too in that dirty water and we would always have to take a shower after our adventures in the river.

With our grandparents living in Gulf Shores we were no strangers to the beach either. We didn't spend much time at the public beaches but instead sought out more secluded spots where the beach was left to its natural state. There you could find the native seashore plant life and all the little animals that comes with it. Once we found an octopus washed up on shore, and another time my big brother got stung by jelly fish. I got chased by very large crabs and seagulls were always soaring above. There were sand dunes too at some of those beaches and despite cutting our feet on the sharp grass we children screamed with delight running up and down the large mounds.

When we moved to the farm land of Missouri our waters changed. There were not many lakes around and no marshes or beaches. Instead we played in creeks, rivers, and cow ponds. There in the mid-west we played the same games we did in our neighborhood wood back in South Carolina but with one important difference. In the winter time the shallow creeks froze! We were absolutely thrilled that first winter, it was the most incredible thing we had ever seen! Water freezing, moving water even, thicker than an inch? We had all sorts of fun slipping and sliding up and down the little creek. The frozen ponds however took the cake because they were big enough that we could actually go skating on them. We didn't have ice skates but we did our best in our shoes with surprisingly good results. Skipping rocks across the ice was highly entertaining as well because they would bounce across the frozen surface and make little squeaking sounds. In the summer we swam in disused cow ponds and our swimming hole.

We lived on a forty acre farm and we had a creek (Cotton Wood Creek, it connects to the Crooked River) that ran through our property and underneath the road. We loved to play in the cool pipes under the bridge and in the tiny swimming hole on the opposite side. Unfortunately though, our swimming hole was plagued with inconveniences. evidently it was a popular dumping site for the area so often when we went down we discovered things like grass clippings and dirt clods, or pumpkins, or just plain ol' trash. One time we found a deer carcass in there and there was once part of an old car. The car was washed down stream eventually after a big rainstorm. As for natural disasters, sometimes it would get infested with caterpillars and we couldn't swim. When it was clear though, we had a blast and when it wasn't, well we just played in the creek up stream. There was a great mudsliding bank and a mud patty for mud ball fights.

Now we live in Florida and the water here is different than the lakes and streams of South Carolina, the marsh in Alabama, and the Missouri cow ponds and swimming hole. Here we have a river just three miles from our house that's called the Black Water River. It has a swift current with sandy bottoms and clear amber colored water. There are many sandbanks all along the river with clean soft sand so its almost like the beach. We like to go canoeing and swimming on this river and love to find new spots along the banks to stop for fun. There are about four rope swings that we pass on our usual trip and there is one spot where a pine tree has fallen over and hangs horizontally about five feet off of the ground. We like to get out there and play a game we invented called paddle cone which is really just tennis with canoe paddles and pine cones. I've seen turtles sunning themselves along the bank of this river and we've caught catfish in our brush lines before. There are lots of cypress trees and lily pads too. We've also made an acquaintance with sailing because our friends have a sail boat and love to take people out on little day trips.

We mustn't of course, forget the beaches. The beaches haven't changed since I was little girl but its been so long since we frequented them its just as fascinating as it was before. The sandy beaches of Pensacola, with names like Chicken Bone Beach, are fun if you want to get out in the sun and the waves. There are lots of beach shops around and a fishing pier at the Pensacola Beach that goes far out into the Gulf. People go parasailing, paddle boarding, sailing, jet skiing, and all sorts of things. There are also wild beaches as part of state parks and nature preserves that are full of interesting plants and animals, and special beaches for dogs too.

Well, that's all the story telling I have for this time. I hope you enjoyed reading my monologue! I took so many pictures of the crabs because I have never seen so many hermit crabs in one place before. The one just above is the biggest hermit crab I have ever seen! The crab in the net is just a regular blue crab. Blue crabs our greyish brown on top and blue underneath. As they mature the blue will become more vivid. There were a lot of other crabs like that one too. Some were black, some were red, and all of them were too small and too fast to get any good pictures of. If you want to read about the time we caught and cooked our own blue crabs you can find that here.

Have a blessed week everyone! Much love to all of y'all!


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