Moving metaphor below,
without one thought you flow
and I see
life’s not hard like land at all
but a living river of possibility
whatever you might be.
A River Poem is displayed on a plaque above the Hillsborough River. The author is anonymous. From this spot people can see rapids as they bubble around outcroppings of Suwannee Limestone. I love the depth of meaning in the poem’s simplicity. Life’s not hard for a river. It creates beauty in the process of overcoming obstacles.
The Hillsborough River flows through Hillsborough State Park on its course to the Gulf of Mexico. Recently Herb and I walked the River Rapids Trail with our dog, Buddy. The scenery is quite beautiful.
The path meanders along the river bank through forests of ancient cypress trees. The tree pictured below is estimated to be four hundred years old.
Although its base is hollow, the tree is still alive. Some scientists think the stumpy looking knees around a Cypress tree serve as anchors in soft muddy soil. The knees also carry oxygen to the roots. I’ve heard the taller the knees, the higher the water has risen around the tree. The base of this tree is probably underwater during the rainy season.
On our walk I noticed a significant amount of poison ivy on both sides of the trail.
Doesn’t it look pretty? These leaves of green terrify me! I’m very allergic to this wicked weed and suffer for weeks if the oil gets on my skin. So not only did I need to keep my eyes on the path, I needed to make sure our dog wasn’t walking through it. So far so good. Whew!
Unfortunately, I was so focused on watching my feet, I missed something. Herb sighted a bobcat running across the path ahead. I think I’d like to see a bobcat, but on second thought I might get scared and try to escape by running through poison ivy. Out of the frying pan and into the fire!
Back to the peaceful river… further down the path we noticed a couple kayaking.
As they paddled closer, instead of looking calm and relaxed, they seemed anxious. They had good reason to be.
The river provides a wonderful habitat for alligators. I photographed this fine specimen basking in the sun on the opposite bank. Once I saw the gator, I realized I was not brave enough to kayak or canoe here. I could appreciate the river better from where I was standing. As long as I wasn’t standing in poison ivy, of course.
Since we were camping at Hillsborough State Park, we had another day to explore. We visited Fort Foster. This historic site is a replica of the original fort which was built to house supplies for U.S. soldiers during the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842.
The fort also protected the only bridge in the area that crossed the Hillsborough River. One thing the government didn’t consider, the bridge also made it easier for the Seminoles to cross the river from their camps on the opposite bank. A few skirmishes happened here, but more casualties occurred from insect related diseases.
Inside the stockade fence, the fort contained a canon, an officers quarters, an infirmary, and a supply building.
The fort could not accommodate the 305 soldiers assigned to the post. Most of them camped outside the fence in palmetto sheds. During the summer of 1836 the fort was abandoned due to unhealthy living conditions. The troops returned in October, to guard the supplies kept at the fort. Eventually the Seminoles were pushed further south to the Everglades.
The Hillsborough River… an inspiration for poets, a habitat for plants and animals, and a source of history. Like the poem states… “a living river of possibility.”