Tag Archives: vision

Ocean, Shore, and Bridges, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

scan0018 (4).jpg
A. Ruhnke, Stuart Nov. 12, 1956. (Courtesy of Sandra Thurlow)

I started the day looking for a quote of inspiration; this is what I found:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

-Christopher Columbus

There have been some heavy set backs lately, for me and for others. After a year of total dedication and tremendous support, I lost a close race for Martin County commissioner. A race mostly inspired by our river…

Sometimes it may seem that we have fallen overboard and are surrounded by sharks, but we are not. We have just run aground… I believe because of our collective efforts since 2013 there is more wide-scale awareness for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon than in the combined previous 83 years. Progress is being made and will continue. There are always set backs as a goal is being achieved.

Just yesterday, I opened up “Florida Trend Magazine”and right there was the now famous aerial photograph of a beautiful North River Shores peninsula surrounded in fluorescent green algae. The title? Southeast “Bloom Blame, Florida researchers look for links between environmental factors and brain diseases.”

Unbelievable….

As you know, our plight, the plight of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has become a state issue. A national issue.  The sad story of Lake Okeechobee and the St Lucie River is now mainstream, not just for a certain well read group, but for everyone.

Why?

Because we organized, we protested, we taught our youth, we went into schools, we went into churches and synagogues, we spoke at our dinner tables, we created organizations, we exploded on social media, we inspired candidates to run for the river, we inspired incumbents who had not spoken for the river to speak…

We had the courage to lose sight of the shore, this dirty shore that we stand on, and cross the ocean of the unknown. Along this journey, some have been persecuted, others are spreading the word…

This 1956 photo of the City of Stuart nestled in the arms of the St Lucie River was taken eight years before I was born. There were problem with the river then too, but only a few to speak for it, and hardly a way to spread the news…

Such a beautifully composed photograph, isn’t it? With the bridge leading to Stuart and the St Lucie Inlet on the horizon?

–Let’s have the courage to once again set sail…

 

 historic NOV. 12, 1956 STUART FL AERIAL - Version 5.jpg

 

The River of Santa Lucea–Help Us to See the Light, SLR/IRL

Santa Lucea or Saint Lucy, Francesco del Cossa
The name of the St Lucie River is linked to the legend of Saint Lucy who is the saint of sight.  (Francesco del Cossa c. 1430 -c. 1477)

There are many names and many spellings and they are all related: Saint Lucie; Saint Lucy; Santa Lucea; Santa Lucia…they are related to the name of our ailing river.

If one lives in Martin County or St Lucie County one may drive over the bridges across the Saint Lucie River every day. But do we ever stop to think?

Saint Lucie….

Santa Lucia…

What’s in the name?

The legend and name of Saint Lucie–is an ancient one, one that was first given to our area by the Spanish who built a settlement whose inhabitants were famoulsy killed by the Ais Indians. These indians lived along what became known as the Indian River Lagoon of which the St Lucie River is part.

From what I have deduced, the word “Lucie” is related to the word “light.” Perhaps the Spanish named their settlement and the near river after the river the beautiful sunrises and sunsets reflecting heavenly light—the light of their creator…

Interestingly, Saint Lucy’s legend is one of which she defended and spoke up for herself and for her beliefs and was  persecuted as a Christian as many were during her day. The story goes that the judge was so angered by her that he had her eyes torn out prior to her execution, however, when she was buried her eyes miraculously reappeared.

Thus today she is the saint of sight…

What a story. What a reminder for us all.

May we see the light…

Florida Archeological Society: The location of Santa Lucia: http://www.academia.edu/1084665/The_Location_of_the_Paramount_Town_of_the_Ais_Indians_and_the_General_Location_of_the_Indians_of_Santa_Lucia
Florida Exploration: http://www.accioncultural.es/virtuales/florida/exploracion/florida_1941.html

Ais Indians of the Indian River Lagoon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ais_people

Saint Lucy (Santa Lucie/Santa Lucea/Saint Lucie) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy

How We See the World–Maps For the Past, Maps for the Future, SLR/IRL

 

1866 map shared by Jim Davis
1866 map shared by Jim Wilson.

I don’t know about you, but I love maps! As a visual person, a map helps me understand  more than words…

In his “Student Guide to Map Making” Ralph Ehrenberg writes:

“Maps are one of the most important types of documents associated with exploration. A map is a graphic representation that facilitates a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world. They are used by explorers to help find their way. They are also prepared by explorers to document or record what in fact they discovered.”

It may not be the 1800s, but we are still explorers. We are trying to find a way for a better water future. One of the best ways to achieve this is to study the past. Over the weekend Facebook friend, Jim Wilson, discovered a very interesting 1866 map of Florida and the Everglades:

You can view the 1866 map in full here: http://www.mapofus.org/_maps/atlas/1866-FL.html

I emailed Dr Gary Goforth about it and this is what he said:  “Portions are accurate, but feel that other portions are not accurate, e.g., the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee. Regardless, it is an amazing compilation of “known” information from 1866!”

In spite of perfection or imperfection, the map has the ability to inspire and give us a visual of what the lands and area south of Lake Okeechobee may have looked like—-I have studied many maps, but I had never had a way to envision the rivers/rivulets running south to the Everglades—–yes, the multiple “fingers” so often reported by early explorers. For me the 1866 map, in one form or another, was an “ah-ha” moment. Thank you Jim!

Maps give “vision…”

We are still explorers…

—I think we should create a “map” of what we would like to see in the future for the waters of our state, particularly south of Lake Okeechobee. Not a drawing, or a satellite, but a good-old map.

You can view other old cool Florida maps from 1800-1849 here: http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/1800/1800.htm

Portion of 1845 Florida Military map showing around south of Lake Okeechobee but no rivulets.
Portion of 1845 Florida Military map showing “fingers” south of Lake Okeechobee but no continuing rivulets as the 1866 shows.

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Thank you Jim Wilson for sharing the 1866 map and inspiring this blog post. jacqui

Election Over, Watch Like a Hawk, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Juvenile hawk, North River Shores, 11-1-14. (Photo Todd Thurlow.)
Juvenile hawk, North River Shores, 11-1-14. “Birds of Prey” have excellent vision. (Photo Todd Thurlow.)

The 2014 mid-term election is now over, but our job is just starting.

We must watch the governor; we must watch his administration and agencies; we must watch our town, city, county, state, and congressional candidates.  We are tired yes, but we must not take our eyes off them, not for a second.

Whether you voted for them or not, “winning the election” means that these candidates are working for you. But if you do not communicate with them, or watch what they are doing, don’t be surprised if they wander from their promises and goals. It is only through the pressure and support of the people that the representative process works.

The stately hawk in the photo above was taken by my brother Todd Thurlow, (http://thurlowpa.comat his North River Shores home this past weekend during the Stuart Air-Show. I think the hawk is symbolic for what we must do and how we must conduct ourselves. The hawk was not afraid of my brother or the loud and larger airplanes in the sky. It just kept watching……

As far as identifying the hawk,  I cannot tell if it is a red-shouldered, red-tailed or another type as the bird’s markings have not yet matured, and I am no expert of the avian species. If you know, please share! 

What I do know though, is that this bird’s eyesight, particularly because it is a “bird of prey,” is one of the very best in the animal kingdom.

Close up of hawk eye. Public photo.
Close up of hawk eye. Public photo.

“The visual ability of birds of prey is legendary, and the keenness of their eyesight is due to a variety of factors: eyes size to body mass; eyes shape and make up– with more receptors, foveae, rods and cones giving the bird spectacular long distance vision, seeing more than 6-8 times better than humans.”

Let this young hawk inspire us. Let’s not take our eyes off our elected officials!

Help me watch them; help me push them; help me encourage them to fight the next four years for sending more water south from Lake Okeechobee, and over all water quality for our area canals, St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

Hawk with airplanes from air-show in distance
Hawk with airplanes from air-show in distance. (Photo Todd Thurlow.)

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Congratulations especially to winners Senator Joe Negron; Congressman Patrick Murphy and Martin County Commissioner, Ed Fielding whom I supported and promoted in this election. I will be watching! 🙂

Red Tailed Hawk: (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/id) 

Red Shouldered hawk FWC: (http://legacy.myfwc.com/bba/docs/bba_RSHA.pdf)

Bird Vision: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vision)

The History of the Name “St Lucie River” and Changes to its Watershed along the Indian River Lagoon

The St Lucie River was originally a large fresh water "stream" that ran into the Indian River Lagoon.An inlet was cut in 1892.
The St Lucie River basin/drainage map 2013, SFWMD.

For thousands of years, before the intervention of modern man, the Ais Indians walked the banks of a large fresh water “stream,” that flowed to the Indian River Lagoon. When the Seminoles came years later, they called it Halipatiokee, Alligator Water, as it was fresh and full of gators. The Spaniards came in the 1500s, on and off for centuries. They first called the river, Rio de Santa Cruz, river of the Holy Cross, as the river is cross-like. Later, they re-christened the river Rio De Luz , river of light, for the lighting on the water is heavenly. Eventually, the Spanish called the river, Santa Lucea. The English then taking over, “anglicized” the name Santa Lucea, to what we know today, as “St Lucie,” the church’s saint of the blind, and of “vision.”

1883 Geodetic Survey Indian River Florida, St Lucie River
1883 Geodetic Survey, Indian River Florida, St Lucie River.

Unfortunately, there was not much long-term vision when the watersheds around the St Lucie were altered by modern man. In 1892 area pioneers cut a permanent inlet from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean, killing the native fresh water grasses that supported an entire ecosystem. Nonetheless, they created something wonderful, the brackish estuary we all know today.  This area, over the years, before its recent destruction, became one of the most bio diverse estuaries in North America.

That wasn’t enough, the local people and the state, with the help of the federal government’s  Army Corp of Engineers, decided they wanted a connection to Lake Okeechobee for trade, travel, agriculture and the convenience of keeping the big lake of Okeechobee, “low.” So they built the C-44 canal connecting Lake Okeechobee to to the St Lucie “River.” In high water times, the overflow from the lake was directed into the St Lucie River as it is today.  Later, around the late 1950s the people decided they wanted more drained land for orange groves and development in the north, and less flooding, so they got the state and federal government to build the C-23, C-24 canals in Martin and St Lucie counties, draining some areas that had never flown south before. These canals even drained lands out west, in what is now Okeechobee County,  and in the north, known today as the City of Port St Lucie.

Did the people building these canals ever think about the effects on the Saint Lucie River?  This seems doubtful. And so today, we have a river system that takes on much more water than it was ever meant to  receive.

As Ernie Lyons, the former great environmentalist and editor of the Stuart News wrote in the 1960s about the loss of the headwaters of the South Fork of the St Lucie River during his lifetime:

“…The drainers got to work on the marshes. The cypress bordered ponds became white sand in the dry times. A ditch through them gushed silted floods during the heavy rains. The little straem was ruined. It  turned from paradise to paradise lost…”

Not until really the 1970s  did humankind start to reflect and realize that we literally were killling paradise, and we have been trying to revive the spirit of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon ever since.

With out a doubt, the spirit of the saint still lives in the St Lucie River; her ancient story is that she lost her eyes to give the people their own “to see .” When you drive over the bridge and look at her, the beautiful St Lucie, open your eyes and ask her to give us all, “better vision.”

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St Lucie River SFWMD: (https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/common/pdf/stlucie.pdf)

Watershed maps/FDEP: (http://www.protectingourwater.org/watersheds/map/)

Story of St Lucy/Lucie: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy)