Tuesday, May 08, 2007

We Wade

Meanwhile, still out in the Gulf of Florida,

Okay, we'll wade this sweet little tidal creek and then hit the boat for a ride back to Cedar Key.

This tiny creek affords us a unique experience. Normally, a spartina marsh tidal creek cuts through dark anaerobic mud that's deep and about as stable as chocolate pudding. Every step sinks you to your knee and threatens to suck your sneakers off.

Not this one.

It's got a sandy bottom (me too after a day like today) and clear Gulf water coursing through it.

Shuffle your feet and let's go.

What?

Yes, you can go first.

Hey! Marsh periwinkles. Look around, they're on most of the spartina blades. When the tide is out, they cruise the mud slurping detritus, but when the tide brings water and predators, they slip up the spartina to safety.

What kind of predators? Oh, conchs, whelks, black drum, ... stingrays.


Look at those two mullet. Their smooth little fishy brains are freaking out right now. Do we dash ahead into dangerous shallow water upstream? Do we count on our countershading to hide us in this shadow? Do we dash past the humans and into the safety of deeper water? Such a dilemma.

Woohoo! Didja feel 'em go past?! I guess they figured a run between our feet was better than the other options. Gotta love mullet. Everything eats them.

Yet they still jump.

Why?

Because they're happy to be here.

Mullet wisdom.

The tide is really pouring out of here. We can't stay too long. I left the boat pretty close to FC Beach and Jr is not likely to notice that it needs to be repositioned. If the tide beaches her, we'll be out here way past dark waiting for a rising tide.

Hmmm? Yes, it IS neat out here at night, but that wasn't really in my float plan for today.

This is where the creek ends. A salty pond behind the beach. It's shallow and full of killifish. I'm thinking it's probably wading bird city at low tide.
We can't wait for low tide however ... and I know the tide won't wait for us.
Time to load the boat and slip across the water.
It was a good day, I enjoyed your company.
Why yes you ARE welcome to come by the house and help rinse the boat and gear off.
How nice of you to offer.
Your Momma raised you right.
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14 comments:

vicki said...

I remember helping to clean my grandfather's boat and "put her to bed" after a day out on the Great Lakes. I'm all caught up here- what a great week of reports, starting with the kites and ending with the end of your key walk. Taken in total it's a reflection of a good, balanced life in progress- Emma's finishing school and the end of the school year for you, your observations of things growing and changing about the island. Nice life, huh?

Thunder Dave said...

Nice trip, thanks again!

Even though I'm so excited about leaving this week that I'm already packed, I really can't wait until August either!

threecollie said...

I have such good manners that I would have even let you walk first through the watery sting-ray land, not to mention helping clean up.
A question for the Florida expert...on my one and only visit to your lovely state my companion and I got out of the car and walked down near a watery ditch not far from the Everglades. There were brilliantly colored little fish that looked a lot like the gouramis you see in fish stores. They were orange, red, blue and gorgeous. Were they the killifish you speak of?

threecollie said...

Oh, there were ten trillion mosquitoes too so we didn't admire those little fish long!

Rurality said...

You've been having such cool adventures while I was gone!

Deb said...

I may need to add your bit of mullet wisdom to my list of favorite quotes. So true.

Doug Taron said...

Another superb post. At some point, I'll get back to Gaineville- I collaborate a fair bit with the good folks at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera. Maybe I can find a way tp bribe you into doing a real walk rather than the virtual kind.

rcwbiologist said...

Thanks for the trek. What a great series of posts.

scott said...

You are not the only one having fun. We are just back from your old salt mine in the Smoky Mountains. A week divided between Lake Lure and the Swag on the Cataloochee Divide. It is a paradise of song birds as the trees were just budding out above 4000 ft. Plus the trillium and trout lilies were blooming; fly poison and may apple carpeted various slopes. No flame azaleas, laurel or rhododendron up high, but dogwood was still blooming down low.

We’ve been going there for about the last ten springs, but this is my first time as a bird watcher. The experience is incredibly enhanced. I even got to quote Wallace Stevens—“…the honey of heaven may or may not come, but that of earth both comes and goes at once.”

I have got to get off my ass and win the Mega-Millions tonight so I can do the things I like full time.

By the way, do alligators tolerate brackish water?

SophieMae said...

Suddeny, I am craving smoked mullet. mmmmmmm

Floridacracker said...

Vicki,
I'm like the mullet.
Happy to be here.

ThunderD,
I hear ya.
Enjoy the redneck riviera.

ThreeCollie,
Down in the glades, they probably were gouramis. We have a long list of exotic tropicals that are loose down there.

Rurality,
Tell me you didn't miss the kites.

Deb,
Thanks, proud to hit the list. I have a soft spot for mullet, poor things.

Doug,
I don't know if my Witness Protection Program rules allow that. This is a good place to hide.

RCW,
Hey, I enjoyed your bay trek. Very Floridian with the poisonous snakes and gators.

When I was there, Cataloochee was the holy grail, the place everyone wanted to work in.
Glad you enjoyed it.

Sophie,
... and mullet gizzards.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Some educator sure raised you right, too.

Wayne said...

This has been great fun - I haven't done my usual commenting, but I've enjoyed the outing. I've been working with a student-athlete taking marine biology and several times she's hearkened back to her junior high school summers in southeast Georgia. She spent time in programs revolving around Tybee Island and salt marshes, and they are permanent fixtures in her mind.

And so that's what seems to be important - leaving recollections that a person will fall back to in years to come. Little seeds of early experience that grow into future forests.

Floridacracker said...

Hoss,
It was a team effort. Thanks!

Wayne,
That's wisdom right there. You said it masterfully.
I concur wholeheartedly.