animation tree

Geology of a tree?
When a topic gets away

Have you ever started on a topic …

Only to get distracted on a different path?

Brought to you by Firelight Radio

I started off trying to talk about geology, but the next thing I knew I was rambling on about a tree. But not just any tree! And that’s when it suddenly dawned on me: cypress trees first took root in south Florida in the footprint of the Lake Okeechobee some six thousand years ago. None of those trees are still living today, but there is one special cypress tree on the outskirts of Lake Okeechobee that may very well be the most famous tree of all. The only problem: it got stuck on the wrong side of the levee. In this podcast, I explore the options for connecting the “lone cypress” with the larger ecosystem. And BTW: the Firelight Radio podcast is hosted by a guitar, i.e. you can’t have a nature-folk movement without a guitar by a campfire … that’s just obvious.

Okeechobee Foothill?
How time turned a dike into a levee

For as easy as it is to see on a map …

Lake Okeechobee is deceivingly hard to find on the ground.

Map of Lake Okeechobee

The reason?

Hoover Hill would seem partly to blame.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Sometimes called a levee and other times a dike

The earthen embankment both blocks the view from its base and promises a scenic vista from its top only to leave you wondering –standing at its crest and looking inward — where the lake starts and if it’s there at all.

Hoover Hill (left) and Lake (right)

With everyone thinking about how to optimally regulate the Lake’s stage, its important to remember that from a design standpoint, the dike-turned-levee was built first and foremost to control (repress) water levels on the outside, not inside, of the levee …

And with the design goal (on the outside) being dry arable ground.

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flood and fire

All droughts end in floods
We just didn't expect it inside

There’s an old hydrology axiom …

That all droughts end in flood.

The podcast explains more

And more than often it holds up,

Although most recently in the swamp with a twist.

Flooded hallway from a strong afternoon storm

The flooding occurred inside the building, a place you’d usually expect to stay dry. The reason? It was a powerful storm cell, and it blew in at an angle into an outdoor hallway that had new door thresholds that slightly pooled the water up.

Meanwhile, the day before, a lightning strikes from a similar cloud caused a few new wildfire starts.

Panorama of the flooded corridor

Moral of the story:

Flood and drought aren’t as diametrically opposed as might first appear. They can actually co-exist on the same day.

Crossing the dotted lines
How invisible lines shape our thinking

Dotted lines warp our view …

Of how a watershed naturally works

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I‘m not saying let’s do away with the lines.

All I’m saying is let’s try to find some common ground.

As seen in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

This National Park Service placard at the trailhead to Big Cypress Bend boardwalk has always intrigued me.

It’s a state trail, part of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park which was established in the mid 1970s. So the placard predates the dotted lines that eventually went in, but to me – both then and today – it’s a reminder that our modern-day boundaries are not set in stone, nor should our thinking simply stop wherever they start and end.

A couple miles in on the old logging tram road

That’s probably why if felt so good to meet up with Fakahatchee’s long-time biologist at a culvert site on Jane’s Scenic Drive. With great enthusiasm Mike said, “Bob, we need to work more together.”

Enthusiasm across dotted lines is not only contagious

It’s our best path forward to getting the water right.

Summer love affair
Why Floridians ❤ Summer

Summer in Florida gets a bum rap.

Too hot, too humid, too many mosquitoes.

Comparison of air temperatures up the East Coast

And I’m not here to argue that it isn’t inordinately long compared to what anybody is used to up North.

Look at that beauty!

But I will put a plug in for Florida’s summer clouds.

They are by far the best of anyplace I’ve ever been.

Find out more in this podcast why summer is actually Florida’s seasonal gem.