Myakka River State Park

I spend a lot of time at Myakka River State Park.  It’s located in Sarasota County and is one of the crown jewels in Florida’s magnificent state park system.  I love this place so much that I’ve taken more than 4,000 photographs there, walked or biked most of the available trails and recently, because of our severe drought, I was able to walk a good portion of the river bed.

Look at these two photos.

Taken from the same spot twenty-seven months apart and you can get a good sense of just how bad our drought is here in South Central Florida.

The beauty of the drought has been how accessible it makes portions of the Park that otherwise are simply off-limits because of water or tall grass or both.  Walking below the Park Drive bridge, for example, doesn’t happen every day.

Park Drive Bridge – May 2012

You can literally walk on the river bed where there are hundreds of mussel shells, cracked open by hungry birds.

Mussel shells on dry river bed

And you find dead LongNose Gar, a fearsome looking fish that was no match for the ever-shrinking waters.

Long Nose Gar skeleton near Alligator Point.

There are many skeletons along the river bed. Only heaven knows what they might have been or how they met their demise. In times of high water you never think what is below the surface but it is clearly teeming with life and as that life shrinks away how will the other critters manage?  Yet the same is true on the other side of the scale.   How do birds manage in times of flood when there are no river banks to stand upon and await a meal?  How do they manage in times of drought when all the river banks have gone away and all the aquatic animals have died?  There are no answers.  Life carries on, somehow.  In a “civilized” society we sometimes lose track of the extremes in nature that are occurring just a few miles from our comfortable homes.  I doubt we could do anything to help relieve the stress that Park critters are enduring just now but perhaps we could become more appreciative of our own bounty and the importance of “Waste not, want not.” ❧

Time in a Bottle

Album cover from Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle”

Jim Croce has been gone a long time.  Killed in a plane crash in 1973, Croce was the James Dean of the rock and roll world, stolen from us just as his massive talent was about to go super nova.  Unlike Dean, Croce was a just a regular guy with a wife and 2-year-old son which makes his classic “Time in a Bottle” all the more poignant.  Croce wrote that song for his son who is now a man in his 40s and probably has few, if any, real memories of his father.  But he does have “Time in a Bottle” and, no doubt, he has grown more appreciative of that song with every passing year.

Passing years make us appreciate time and who hasn’t wished to put “Time in a Bottle”?  I’ve been reading about time recently and came across a book entitled Momo written by Michael Ende and, curiously, published in 1973 — the same year as Croce’s death.  Momo was conceived as a children’s book but it has become a bit of a cult item and is more properly called a fantasy novel.  Wikipedia describes it thus:

Momo, also known as The Grey Gentlemen or The Men in Grey, is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, published in 1973. It is about the concept of time and how it is used by humans in modern societies. The full title in German translates to Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves and the child who brought the stolen time back to the people.

I was intrigued and immediately went in search of the book, which took a bit of — ahem — time.  The book is out-of-print which surprised me since Ende is also known for The Never-Ending Story which has exhibited staying power over the years.  I finally tracked down a copy  of Momo via one of Amazon’s suppliers.  It is in the mail to me and eagerly awaited.

Take the time to read a synopsis of Momo and you’ll get an eerie view of looking at today’s society in the mirror.  Grey suited men enticing the populous with gadgets and trinkets, encouraging them to trade their time for these baubles and to “save time” for the future when they can enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Sound familiar?

Momo has already taught me something and I haven’t even opened the book.  Perhaps it because my retirement is looming on the horizon that I was so struck with “saving time”.  Perhaps it is the work I do — grief counseling — at which I hear tales from those who feel that their “time was stolen”  because their future is now void of the one they loved.

The truth is we have no time except the moment we now live.  We say that often enough but do we really hear it?   Yesterday is most certainly gone and tomorrow is a dream.  We only have the moment at hand with which to work. Almost forty years ago a proud father sat down in his moment and penned a song that has endured to this day leaving  a crystal clear message of love to his son.  The things we can do with our time! Don’t squander the present trying to save for the future or you may miss your moment completely. ❧

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