TCPalm’s Elliott Jones reported this morning that Stuart has received a whopping 11.30 inches of rain just so far this month! (The average being 7.14.)
Although due to the recent drought, the ACOE/SFWMD are not dumping Lake Okeechobee through Canal C-44, canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and areas along C-44, as well as our own basin, are draining right into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Very little of this water is cleansed before it enters and thus is damaging to the eco system. Next time you see water draining through a grate in a parking lot, think about this. Remember too that before the major canals were constructed the 1900s, the river received less than half the water it gets every time it rains today.
The aerials below were taken 6-13-17 by my husband Ed Lippisch and pilot Dave Stone. It is important to monitor the river all of the time so we can view changes.
“Rain stained” we are; please remember not to fertilize during the rainy season. The birds on Bird Island will appreciate it! (http://befloridian.org)
Canals draining water into SLR/IRL after rain events:
The sands of time….shifting, reforming, just like my childhood memories. 1977–Seventh grade—I remember riding my bike with my best friend, Vicki, out to Hutchinson Island. No traffic. Along the way we would take our hands off the handle bars holding them over our heads, laughing and shouting “look mom!”
A veritable paradise and giant playground we left our bikes at Stuart Beach not locking them and jumped into the ocean.
This photo was taken in 1957, twenty years before Vicki and my bike ride, but it was still relatively undeveloped at that time. If my memory serves me correctly Indian River Plantation’s first condo, The Pelican, went up in 1976 and later in the 1980s the establishment filled out to its final glory. Later sold to the Marriott these lands, though altered, remain a beautiful part of Martin County with public beaches for all to enjoy.
I got ahold of this photo from my mother asking her what kind of vegetation pre-development was on the island. This was her reply:
“This aerial was taken on October 16, 1957. The causeway was under construction as were improvements to Stuart Beach. It is hard to tell what kind of trees are there. They were probably a variety of things, oak, salt bush, cabbage palms, palmetto and Australian pine. The later were growing at the House of Refuge at this time so they were no doubt popping up everywhere. It was “disturbed land” since patches of it had been cleared for farming. Mangrove would be growing along the water but I doubt they had reached inland yet. You can see the new piles of sand indicating mosquito ditches had recently been dug. Notice the little Beach Road.” Historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow
Thinking a bit more about this area I asked my brother, Todd Thurlow, if this area formed “the fan” because it was once an inlet, such as the Gap, he talks about so much. He sent me this:
“The steady forces of long shore drift have operated over the eons to produce not just the current BI and previous BIs such as the ACR on the mainland, but even the peninsula of Florida itself (Schmidt 1997). The strong linearity of the east central and southeast Florida coastline, its low fractal dimensionality (Rial n.d.), indicates the steadiness and consistent directionality of these forces. Chaotic events like storms, on the other hand, produce drastic BI and lagoonal modifications via overwash and tidal inlet cuts, and leave chaotic, or irregular (“squiggly”) backbarrier shorelines, the former producing overwash fans, and the latter producing flood tidal deltas (Figure 3-6).
Figure 4-19. Cartographic signatures of geomorphic stability and instability. Map to left is most north, right map is most south”
Alan Brech, NEITHER OCEAN NOR CONTINENT: CORRELATING THE ARCHAEOLOGY AND GEOMORPHOLOGY OF THE BARRIER ISLANDS OF EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA, 2004.
Translation: Breaks occurring during storms create overwash fans. (e.g. IRP and Sailfish Point). Tidal inlets produce flood tidal deltas, somewhat like the old Gilberts Bar. BI = Barrier Island; ACR = Atlantic Coastal Ridge. —-Todd Thurlow, “Time Capsule Flights:”(https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDaNwdmfhj15bmGNQaGhog9QpkQPAXl06)
The shifting sands of time… So many wonderful memories, and so many more to make as times and sands continue to change.
Hutchinson Island is located on the east side of the Indian River Lagoon–
I find myself thinking of bears…recently I was in Silver Springs with my UF Natural Resources Leadership Institute class. We were staying at the Florida Wildlife Commissions’ Ocala Conservation Center and Youth Camp. That night, I couldn’t sleep, tossing and turning—the springs under my mattress squeaked relentlessly through the dead-aired, dark, dusty cabin. I knew I was keeping my bunk-mates awake. It was 2:00AM. I decided to get up. Walking out the door into cool darkness the stars shone like diamonds in a velvet sky; Orion looked down on me as he has since my childhood.
Standing alone in glory of the night, I wondered if I would see a bear. After all, I was in “bear country”…There had been a lot of talk about bears and the controversies of hunting during our session. I imagined that if I did see a bear, I would do what they say to do. I would stand tall and slowly back up. I would not run.
Later that night I fell asleep in my car, and dreamt of bears. In my dream, I forgot the rules and I ran. The bear did not chase me, but rather stood up like a human and summoned me to a large rock; I went to him and he told me a story… his story of being the last bear shot on Hutchinson Island in Martin County, 1926…
The bear looked me straight in the eye and began speaking in a steady, low voice:
“For countless centuries there were black bears on Hutchinson Island…they co-existed with the Indians whose mounds are found there. We roamed the beaches on the long summer nights, digging up loggerhead turtle eggs. When the white settlers came a few sailed over from the mainland to put out bees on the island and we knocked over the hives to get the honey…
It was tough being a bear….white men and bears were enemies in a one-sided war. In 1926 I was shot by Captain Billy Pitchford. I was the last bear on Hutchinson Island…”
Suddenly I awoke. My car window was open; I heard owls hooting close by and the wind whistling through the spanish moss. My bones ached and moisture coated everything. I rolled on my side thinking about my dream. Thinking about the last bear shot on Hutchinson Island and the old Stuart News article my mother had given me…
Bears, I though…
“A one-sided war….”
That was the message.
The Florida Wildlife Commission sanctioned bear hunt, the first since 1994, will begin in two days on October 24th. There is nothing wrong with hunting, but a man of dignity should never take pride in winning a one-sided war.
One of my favorite childhood memories is searching for sea glass along our beaches, on the other side of the Indian River Lagoon…
My parents’ friends, the Nelsons, were one of the first to build “out there,” on Hutchinson Island; I would often spend the night with their daughter Lynda. Lynda and I would wake up in the morning before dawn, climb the stairs to the roof, and wait for the sun to rise. Like yellow gold, it would emerge over the ocean, and we would begin our treasure hunt for sea glass.
In those days, in the late 1960s and 1970s, our Martin County beaches were not “renoursished,” and if you picked the sand up in the palm of your hand, it was beautiful and consisted of thousands of little crushed shells of every imaginable color….often a piece of sea glass would be there too.
Lynda and I had baskets her mother had given us, and on any given weekend we could fill a small basket full with glass. The most common color was brown, then green, then clear, and the rarest of all was blue! Blue was the prize. Blue was goal…Lynda always won!
It is harder to find sea glass today. And this is a very good thing…
Prior to the 1970s, and many places until the 1990s, trash was dumped from barges off the shores the United States. It was not until the 1972 passage of the “Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act” that laws, regulations, and public awareness stopped this practice.
The plethora of glass along Atlantic beaches came from the bottles dumped with the trash. After years of being tumbled in the sea, once sharp pieces emerged rounded and frosted by nature….just beautiful!
What do they say? “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Thankfully in this case, there is less “treasure” to find.
Late yesterday afternoon, I walked the Ernest Lyons Bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. There was a storm in the west–way off in the distance over Palm City perhaps. In what seemed like minutes the storm had flattened and stretched out over the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. It was upon me.
For a moment I was scared. There was lightning in the near distance. Cold rain pelted down. The winds generated tremendous power and the birds flying back to Bird Island were caught in place suspended like mobiles.
I started running, not something I do ever anymore….
After stopping and starting, and taking photos….. 🙂 I got safely to the other side.
I had ‘made it.” I felt invigorated. It’s good to be aware of your smallness against nature every once in a while….
Today I will share “Reflections on Reflections on a Jungle River” written by famed environmentalist and “Stuart News” editor Ernest Lyons. The work is transcribed by my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow. I think Ernie’s essay “captures the storm better than I ever could…although he is writing about the St Lucie or Loxahatchee, the sister Indian River seems just the same…
Drifting on the surface of a Florida jungle river, like the South Fork of the St. Lucie or the Northwest Branch of the Loxahatchee, I experience the feeling that nothing is ordinary, nothing is commonplace.
The onyx surface of the water reflects in perfect color the images of the bushy headed cabbage palms, the moss draped live-oaks and cypresses along the banks.
Cascading clumps of wild asters and a fragile white spider-lily are mirrored on the smooth blank film. I drift in my rowboat on top of an image of scenery. There is probably, a natural law which some logically minded egghead can recite to explain how a color image can be reflected on the face of a river, but please don’t quote it. I would rather marvel.
What has happened to awe? Where has wonder gone? I suspect that too much has been “explained” by the ignorant to the stupid. Modern man’s greatest loss of spirit may be that he has ceased to be amazed at the wonders all around him.
Looking up from the tunnel of trees one sees more intimately the blue sky and white clouds. Why blue? Why white? Why are the palm fronds that glittering green? Why is that crimson color on the air plant’s flowering spikes? I glance at the molten sun above the palm trees. Just a glance. What frailty is in us that we can not ever look the sun in the eye? I remember a snatch of Alfred Noyes’ poem to the sun: “My light upon the far, faint planets that attend me…whose flowers watch me with adoring eyes…”
A flower can do what a man cannot; it can look the sun in the eye. Mighty Ra to whom the ancient Egyptians built temples on the banks of the Nile. The Sun God who controlled the seasons, the droughts and the floods. We smile at the fantasies of the Pharaohs and have replaced them with plain, old ordinary sun among millions like it sending out radiation as it burns nuclear fuel. But it still does what Ra did — and sunlight remains as great a mystery now as then.
The river on which I drift begins in that distant flaming sphere pouring our rays of light that suck mists from the sea to make clouds in the sky.
So simple a process. There’s really nothing to it. Just done with light. All of the rivers and all of the clouds all over the world are children of a star. The sun is their father, the sea is their mother and they are born and reborn again so long as the light shines on the waters. We yawn at continuing creation. It is all explainable, if you just have a logical mind. I’m glad I don’t.
I would make a good Druid. I believe in magic and in miracles, in mysteries and wonders, and that trees, mountains, rivers, even clouds and certain secret places have personalities. I like storms. I enjoy watching the maneuvering of giant thunderheads, edging around each other, moving in closer, muttering and grumbling and threatening, coming together and destroying each other with furies of wind, crashes of lighting and deluges of rain.
They remind me of the ponderous movements of great governments coming in on each other toward a war which everyone wants to avoid —until caught in the thick of it, when all must make the best of it. One is a storm of mist, the other a storm of belief —and the second is the least tangible and the most destructive. The sun makes one from water; we from the other from thoughts and beliefs. As we believe, they are shaped. What a power for good or evil is the human mind, making its own storms, malignant and benign.
Storms up the river remind me of creatures that sneak up and pounce. You hear them muttering, you see them coming, you figure they are going to miss you—and there is a time when you could do something about avoiding them. Then there is a point of no return. You are definitely caught, can do nothing to escape. There is no place to go.
You look at the bright side. You are glad you are not in a small boat at sea. You are going to get wet, but you are not going to be drowned. You are, after all, a land creature, and having shielding trees and firm land close by is relatively comforting. How human it is that, our first thought about the threat of nuclear storms is that perhaps—just perhaps, but hopefully—we may burrow into the earth and escape.
Hauled under a leaning palm, I endure the storm, but it finds me out and soaks me to the skin. And it is gone. Nothing is so completely gone as a storm that has passed or Druids or Pharaohs or empires in which people have stopped believing.
There are trickles and rivulets and creeklets coming into the river, making it whole again, flowing to the sea to be warmed once more by the sun and made into clouds to fill the river again.
What is light? I glance at incandescent Ra, but dare not look him in the eye. “You wet me good,” I say, “Now warm me up.”
I always enjoy looking at old photographs, and fortunately my mother and father have acquired hundreds through their history work. Many of them spawn memories of what for me was a “simpler time and place” in Martin County history—as I was a child.
My mother probably took me to the “Bathtub Beach,” with family and friends, for the very first time, when I was an infant, but in my first memories of the place I was probably four or five years old.
I can remember my mother parking along the road and all of us walking– carrying all of our towels, buckets, and nets to catch tropical fish in the reef (to be returned) and my looking down and seeing bright, yellow beach-sunflowers— the sand was SO hot, you wouldn’t believe it, and there were stickers. Hundreds of stickers that stuck in your feet and you had to stop and pull them out as the sun beat down on you like a flashlight.
I remember, it became a game with me to see if I could walk in the burning sand from the road, along the path, to the beach without any shoes. I remember jumping in the cool water and swimming to the reef and sticking my homemade net into a hole to catch a little fish and a moray eel came right out and put its scary face up to my mask!
I remember the simplicity of these times, and the beauty of this place that is no longer wild like it was then, but is still equally remarkable.
The photo above shows Seminole Shores, that became “Sailfish Point” and a formalized county beach–“Bathtub Reef Beach.” Even at the time of this photograph there were “issues:” the photo is labeled “Washout.” As we all know, today, this area is still eroding away and the county must spend substantial amounts of monies in partnerships with the state of Florida to “re-nourish” this area. See chart below for all Martin County, provided for me by Martin County.
When I really think about it, every era of history has its difficulties. It is never simple.
The aerial photos I am sharing today were taken not long after the atrocities of World War II. I was born in the social and political unrest of the 1960s…Today has its own set of problems whether it be the possibility of terrorists training in Treasure Coast airports; our eroding beaches; the “tipping point” that has occurred with releases from Lake Okeechobee and the area canals into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; our struggles with the US Sugar option land purchase; or the next population explosion that our state is counting on….
Nonetheless, it is rather amusing to me, that after all these years, some things remain the same: it is still beautiful here; I still love the fish; and somehow sometimes I still feel like I am running on the hot sands to see how long I can stand it, having to stop to pull out those irritating stickers; and every once in a while, I stick my net into a hole, and out pops a moray eel…. 🙂
Since the 1960s, I have seen many bridges destroyed and rebuilt, right here in Martin County. They are symbolic of our history, our accomplishments, and our struggles.
I may be making this up in my memory, but I think I recall my parents driving me over the Palm City bridge when I was a kid and it was made of wood. The clunk of slow-moving, heavy car, over the uneven planks was somehow comforting, like the rhythm of a familiar horse. But times change, and bigger and “better” bridges are built…
The “bridges to the sea,” from Stuart, to Sewall’s Point, to Hutchinson Island–over the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon were built in 1958. Sandra Henderson Thurlow, in her book, Sewall’s Point, The History of a Peninsular Community of Florida’s Treasure Coast, discusses how the relative isolation of Sewall’s Point ended in 1958 when, two “bridges to the sea opened.” For 10 cents, one could come to Sewall’s Point, and for 25 cents, one could go all the way to the ocean. The tolls were removed in 1961 and the bridges formally named in 1965: “Evans Crary Sr,” and “Ernst F. Lyons”– going west to east.
I am almost sure, I also remember, my mother, or some history person, telling me “they” did not name the bridges right away as it was a political “hot potato.” Perhaps in the beginning there had been controversy regarding building the bridges and certain people did not want their names associated with them until the political fumes dissipated and settled upon something else? Perhaps I am making this up? Like my fuzzy romanticized memory of wooden bridge in Palm City?
I don’t know. But what I do know, is that bridges allow us to cross over, to get to the other side.
I am trying to build bridges to send water south to the Everglades and save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This means working with the sugar industry; the South Florida Water Management District; the Governor; the state and federal Legislature; the Army Corp of Engineers; the County; and most of all the people who live along the Treasure Coast.
I must admit, jokingly, sometimes I feel like “jumping off the bridge.” But I won’t. With your help, I will rebuild it; make it higher, more beautiful, and less damaging to the environment. And hopefully, in the end, we will all be inspired!