Tag Archives: Easter

Remembering Lake Okeechobee’s Moonflower This Easter, SLR/IRL

Florida map 1500s
Moon flower, public image

Florida translates to “Flowery Easter” and was christened such by Ponce de Leon in 1513. Yes, we were a “land of flowers!”

Everglades Wildflowers: http://www.wildflowersearch.com/search?oldstate=gmc%3A25.32%2C-80.93%3Bgms%3A12%3Blocation%3AEverglades%3Belev%3A1%3Btitle%3AEverglades%20Wildflowers%3B

The wildflower I would like to remember in “all its glory” this Easter is the moonflower whose sweet fragrance used to fill Lake Okeechobee’s shores.

David Troxtell of the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota writes:

Not too long ago, Florida’s giant Lake Okeechobee would fill with rainwater and flood its southern banks every year during the wet season. The water’s slow journey through the Everglades’ 100-mile long “river of grass” and out to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico would take months.

At the very beginning of this journey would have been a floodplain covered in a massive pond apple forest, completely blanketed in moonvine. Pond apple is a native tree which grows in regularly flooded areas, and is a preferred host for the moonvine. It has also become a rare sight in the state outside of the Everglades due to development, mostly agriculture.

The massive forest of moonvine and pond apples covering 32,000 acres along the southern edge of Lake Okeechobee was destroyed in less than a decade…” (http://selby.org/moonvine-morning-glory-family/)

What is exciting is that there is a resurgence of interest in reestablishing the pond apple also known as the custard apple which would inadvertently include the moonflower. The Art Marshall Foundation worked on such, but many were destroyed in the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Sarah Brown, a local South Florida photographer, has a show presently at the Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades. Many of her photographs feature the few remaining custard apple trees and moonvines. Zachariah Cosner, a student at University of Miami, is writing a book on the subject and I will be featuring his work more in the coming months.

So on this sacred Easter, remember, there is hope of recovering some of Florida’s wildflowers for which we are named. May we once again be Florida, “land of flowers.”

Sarah Brown Images, http://www.sarahbrownimages.com

Nativeg8r, Pinterest image of moonflower
Moonflower center, Rebecca Fatzinger

Florida’s “Feast of Flowers” and the Spirit of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Florida was named for Spain's Feast of Flowers...(Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)
Florida was named for Spain’s Feast of Flowers…(Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)

Florida was named “Pascua Florida” by explorer Ponce de Leon on Easter in 1513. Translation: means “Flowery Easter” or “Flowering Easter” (after Spain’s “Feast of the Flowers” Easter celebration)

Historic map of Florida...
Historic map of Florida…

With the approach of Easter, I am reminded of how lucky I am, and how in spite of the crushing blows of our physical existence and our difficult world, we are always able to heal, to “overcome.”

This applies to our lives as well as to our fight for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon…

In 2001, in a “previous life,” the day before Easter, I fell from the balcony of a home under construction and broke my neck. It happened in one second. And in that second, when what I thought was solid ground under my feet collapsed, and I was falling, watching the world turning, the shining St Lucie River and blue sky before me, I clearly remember saying to myself: “I can’t believe it; this is how I am going to die.” And then, “crash.” My thigh struck a metal stool, and my shoulder hit the ground. Silence. Excruciating pain. My dog, Dash, barking like crazy running around me while I lie flat unable to move…

iris
iris

A neighbor, hearing the crash, called the police, the Life Flight helicopter came, my fiancée  at the time looked on in horror, while Bennett Richardson of the Martin County Fire Rescue Team yelled: “Do not move!” “Do not try to get up!”

The team fastened me into a stretcher in a full body brace. I was numb, in shock, and afraid.

I recall the helicopter ride: on my back, wind blowing, looking up, hearing the sound of the blades whipping through the air….it was like a movie….I kept wondering if I would be paralyzed. Wondering how my life would change. But somehow during that helicopter ride to St Mary’s Hospital, I came to know that even if I couldn’t move my body, I wasn’t my body anyway. I was something much larger, something connected to everything greater than myself; I was spirit….such are we all…

The next day, on Easter morning 2001, I lie by myself and knew my life would never be the same. I spent that Easter Day mostly alone. For me, Easter has become a “homecoming” of sorts….a  reminder…..of life’s spirit.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy whatever makes you inspired.

 

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