Nature Walks – Bulow Woods
I spent the morning walking through majestic Bulow Woods, a local old hammock that has a great walking trail through the length of the woods, protected by State Park. It was a 5.2 mile hike… nothing like I used to do in the wilds of the Cascades, but certainly an adequate walk and good stretch of the legs. The woods are still recovering from the recent hurricane, with huge oak trees lying prostate upon the ground, their brown leaves still clinging to the branches. In time this same trees will be broken out into soil for new generations of saplings, while providing food for bacteria, worms, beetles and a variety of wildlife.
The woods were showing signs of new growth, with fresh green leaves springing forth from battered palms and saw palmetto. The Red Bays, being an broad-leaf evergreen, are also putting out new leaves, bringing a splash of fresh green to parts of the forest. Meanwhile, the hickories, liquidamber and maples are losing leaves, contributing to the leaf litter on the forest floor, a valuable addition to the sandy soil. I’m discovering that all of Florida or most of the state is made up of sandy… with limestone outcroppings in some places or perhaps a little sandstone, remnants of ancient sea beds. The glossy leaved magnolias stand out against the grayer toned palms. Forests are complex places and a good place to review the cycles of Nature, the destruction that brings forth life and renewal.
There wasn’t much in the way of wildlife sightings, just a frisky squirrel and a determined woodpecker hammering away on an elderly oak. Then the flitting of tiny birds searching for the berries of the Yaupon holly. It was an enjoyable walk. I always find the solace comforting and relaxing. Yet even in this wild space, the sounds of man weren’t far away. There are no truly wild places in Florida, just patches of surviving forest surrounded by growing development. It is way different from the wide open spaces of the West.
The Solstice approaches… as does the shortest day of the year (for the North Hemisphere). After three days, the sun will begin its northerly trek (seemingly) as the Earth tilts bringing more light each day to the Northern latitudes. Being here in Florida with its abundant sunlight and warmer weather has made this autumn much better for me personally since I’ve been able to get out most every day for some kind of walk or exercise. I used to dread November and December when living further north… Still, the quiet chill of a winter day is also something to treasure if you are living in a northerly clime. We just need to learn to adapt to whatever our environment presents.
This year, 2016, has been an interesting year for me, as well as many others. Instead of getting upset at headlines (I don’t read mass media sources) I find myself in an observer mode. There are a lot of agendas being played out in the area of geopolitics as various groups take sides and try to defend their belief systems. It is interesting to watch. I’m glad that I am not a political animal…
In the past months that I’ve been living in Palm Coast, I’ve made great strides in my artwork, which is developing greater maturity… although I haven’t settled down into any particular style. Each piece seems to be expressed in a different manner as I explore new techniques and learn more about my materials and tools. Painting… art work in general, is much like gardening… you can work on it for a life time and still not learn everything there is to discover. Which is the whole point of life, isn’t it? There is no possibility of getting bored when you have an ounce of creativity and the urge to explore the world through new experiences. Painting and exploring nature are two of my loves, means through which I discover the joy of simply being, feeling and observing.
I wish everyone a happy holiday season wherever they are upon this blue green globe of ours. May our dreams of peace be fulfilled in this next year, first by discovering the joy that exists in our own hearts, that we may radiate this love forth to the world.
All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
Photo Credits: Taken in Flagler and Volusia Counties, Central Florida
Artwork: “La Playa”, 24 x 36″ acrylic (with gesso) of a scene from Costa Rica