Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bubbling Up: Deep, Dark and Mysterious

Myakka Flood, oil over egg tempera by Fran Hardy copyright
Private Collection, Deland, Florida

I have been talking to various contacts in Florida about doing a series of documentaries about other regions of Florida besides south Florida which we already did for the Creative-Native Project series. The south Florida documentary aired on PBS stations, FEC-TV nationally and at museums and botanical gardens.
It has reignited my excitement about the not so well known fabulous, otherworldy jungles and swamps of central and northern Florida that inspired me when I lived there. 
Florida has magical bubbling springs hidden away like jewels in the forest. I am going to tell you about some of them today. I want to do installations for the exhibitions that will accompany the documentaries as we are doing in Oklahoma in conjunction with the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art. My contribution would focus on the luminous springs which I can envision in oil over egg tempera and the ancient trees.
I found this great website about Florida's springs.
Many unique tours and events, like the famous mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs, have attracted visitors from around the world for years. © Wes Skiles
  Photo courtesy of Wes Skiles copyright,

This is Weeki Wachee, which is a tourist attraction that I loved as a child with it's underwater mermaid show in this very deep crystalline spring that I always clamored to visit when we went to Florida.
Now I am attracted to the springs that hide deep in the Florida jungle, not as part of a tourist attraction. Visiting these springs especially off-season gives one a sense of the primordial before man put his hand on the land.
These are some wonderful aerial shots of Florida springs and also talks about the threats and degradation that has imperiled these amazing springs.

The Ocala National Forest lies between the Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers in Central Florida. In descending order of land area it is located in parts of Marion,LakePutnam, and Seminole counties.
The Ocala National Forest receives more visitors than any other national forest in the Sunshine State. Millions annually visit the forest, which is one of Central Florida's last remaining traces of forested land. The Ocala National Forest contains a high proportion of remaining Florida Scrub habitat and is noted for its Sand Pine scrub ecosystem. The forest contains the largest concentration of sand pine in the world as well as some of the best remaining stands ofLongleaf Pine in Central Florida. The forest’s porous sands and largely undeveloped character provide an important recharge for the Floridan Aquifer. TheRodman Reservoir system forms most of the northern and north western border as part of the Ocklawaha River Basin.
The Ocala Forest is also known for having over 600 natural lakes and ponds. The forest is riddled with slow-moving rivers and wet "prairies". They are sunny, shallow expanses of water, usually ringed by cypress trees and filled water lilies and other with aquatic plants. Between the river boundaries of this Forest lie central highlands, coastal lowlands, swampssprings and hundreds of lakes and ponds.

The Ocala National Forest in central Florida contains a number of springs and rivers. I have never visited it except to drive through. I look forward to getting into the forest and exploring the springs and trails. Florida, unlike the majestic vistas of the west where I live now, is a place that one has to get out and explore close-up to truly appreciate it's beauty.
Alexander Springs Canoeing
Photo and text by Michael Warren
"You won’t be the first to discover the delightful swimming hole at Alexander Springs. People have been enjoying this idyllic and refreshing spring form at least 10,000 years. Its ancient residents, the Timucuan Indians, enjoyed the springs for the same reason people go today: “It was a place where they would go swimming and recreate,” said ranger Jim Thorsen.
Alexander is one of Florida’s 27 “first-magnitude” springs, each of which produce mor than 64.6 million gallons of water a day. (Nearby Silver Glen Springs is another, along with Manatee Springs near Chiefland.) Alexander Springs (ranked 23rd) discharges 80 million gallons a day, according to Thorsen."
Silver Glen Springs
Photo and text by Michael Warren
'If you can manage to get the place to yourself — and it is possible, but not on busy weekends or holidays — there are few better places to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Ocala National Forest than Silver Glen Springs.
From the comfortable lawn surrounding the spring, under a gentle shade of Spanish moss, you can watch the spring boil up silently from the Florida Aquifer. Seventy-two million gallons a day erupt from the spring and spread out into a transparent underwater meadow teeming with fish. The limestone pool, about 200 feet across, is the color of pale emeralds, accented by abstract swaths of water grass.
Manatee Springs  below is in northern Florida along the spectacular Suwannee River.'
Manatee Springs
"When naturalist William Bartram visited Manatee Springs in the  late 1700s, he said the place was astonishing: “This charming nymphaeum is the product of primitive nature, not to be imitated, much less equaled, by the united effort of human power and ingenuity!”
Two centuries later, much of that beauty remains. “Two hundred years is not very long for nature” said Bill Maphis, who was the park manager. “The same basic features are here, with the exception of the concrete to provide the visitor access to the water.”
The West Indian Manatees, after which the park was named, are frequent visitors, with more than a hundred manatee sightings per year.
Manatee Springs “is the first feeding station on the Suwannee River. The manatees come 23 miles inland from the gulf, and this is the first warm spring with a food supply,” Maphis said. Tannic acid, which darkens the Suwannee for much of the year, stunts the growth of the aquatic plants on which the manatee feed, he says. The result is that by the time the manatees reach the spring, they need the food and the rest.
When manatees enter the swimming area, people are asked to leave the water. “The animal is not dangerous to people, but if people were to stay in the area, the animal would learn bad habits,” Maphis said. A similar policy is in place atBlue Spring State Park. (But read here for information on manatee swimming tours.)"
More magical springs in upcoming blogs.

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