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Issue #190, Epic Road Trip, June 12, 2018: Manatee Springs, Florida

June 12, 2018 Well, Trump and Kim Jong-Un have been meeting in Singapore. And I have been sketching down by the Springs - I left the noisy, humid enclosure of the Cricket as soon as first light, eager to get out of the confined space with the rest of my slumbering family. They are all quite comfortable, while my head echoes with the mechanical whirr of the fan and the fact that whenever one person moves, I wake up.

Anyway I was out at the boardwalk, and set up my easel and sketched out there, standing above the bald cypresses poking their roots out of the water. I also said hello to a small yellow bird that was singing on the railing, who let me approach within several feet, not minding at all that I was so close. We came out to the ‘springs’ area yesterday afternoon as well, and we all swam in the deep pool - except Orion freaked out a little once he got a short way into the water, which was so clear and you could see straight down to the bottom, about 30 feet. He panicked, and reverted to dog-paddle, and said he needed help, so I swam out to get him, pulling him back to the edge. He said that he couldn’t get his head in the water; that it was too cold, and the feeling of ‘depth’ freaked him out. He has had a lot of swim lessons, so this show of fright distressed me. Paige later took him out again, encouraging him to swim next to her, and he was a bit more successful, though clearly still uncomfortable.

We discovered a huge spider hanging out on one of the Cypress trees as well as several large brown water snakes nestled in the rocks and grass at the edge of the spring. A park ranger came by and said they were harmless, probably female, ready to lay eggs. Also, while I was sketching, I saw a dark black snake slide right past my feet and under my easel. I was not that happy with my sketch, and that is why I tried again this morning - there is a tremendous amount of reflected light and shadow and unusual colors and shapes of all sizes, and I am trying much larger pieces of paper and thinking more ‘painterly’ instead of ‘linearly’ as I have done for so many years.

Earlier in the day we took an exploratory bike ride on the “North End Trail” as I had a brochure that contained information relating to a self-guided nature walk. It was a beautiful, if hot and muggy, exploration of the forest down here, and we got to identify many of the native species of trees - Loblolly Pines, in addition to the Sabal Palms and Saw Palmettos I mentioned before.

We also came across a huge turtle possibly trying to bury its eggs, right in the middle of the trail. Phoenix pulled two ticks off his legs; and Orion was agitated by the threat of more bugs on his body, which he neglected to cover with bug spray, so he was eager to get back to the relative comfort and security of our camp.

turtle on the trail
meets colorado family
in brief encounter

Before dinner I made a brief foray back to the snack bar hut at the Springs to get some internet connection and to make sure the next place we are going (Collier-Seminole) will have electricity and water (it does). Orion came riding out to find me, bringing the news that “The Cricket has a leak”. Not only that, but Phoenix suddenly seemed sick, complaining of a stomach ache, unable to eat dinner. However, both things resolved after dinner when we took the entire cabinet apart and could find no evidence of leaking, despite the fact that a pool of water had collected on the floor, and Phoenix eventually announced he was hungry. I am thinking the water is just the excess that flows into the air conditioner when it rains really hard - and the deluges the we drove through 2 days ago might have been the source.

perhaps drawn to Bach
armadillo interrupts
my evening practice

fat armadillo
comes poking about again
hides under Cricket

no manatees here
at Manatee Springs State Park
just brown river snakes

still put to good use
bread machine - a wedding gift
mobile bakery

water from the springs
has taken a thousand years
to percolate up

slithering past foot
endangered black snake evades
my detailed sketch

just waiting for me:
mosquito in the bathroom-
to drop down my pants

green frog in bathroom
sticks to slick ceramic tile
rested fan above

more sky, less mountains
clouds in southern florida
define the landscape

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen