William Bartram traveled south from Amelia Island to reach Florida and the St. John’s River. He crossed Fort George’s Sound, now called Nassau Sound to reach present day Jacksonville. In his words….
We took a ferry across the St. John’s river to reach Fort George’s Sound. The pelicans of which William Bartram writes were in great abundance along the dock of the ferry. We did not shoot and eat one, but nevertheless I got up close and personal looks at numerous pelicans.
Dead Tree Beach
The grove of orange trees no longer exists along the high promontory of Fort George’s Sound, now called Nassau Sound. Instead, we discovered a beach full of dead trees, perhaps remnants of Bartram’s Orange Grove.
The driftwood beach was dramatic and lonely. Few people were out, and the day was dark and gray, threatening always to rain. Still, the driftwood was wonderful fodder for my camera, so I happily took pictures to my heart’s content.
On a high promontory….
To reach the driftwood beach we (my mother, my aunt and I) hiked through a beachside forest. The views deep into the woods were dark and mysterious; the views through the trees towards the sound were dramatic and melancholy on such a gray day. We discovered bay, palmettos, pine, live oak but no sword plants that Bartram so lovingly described as growing here.
The Well from which William drank…
Down near the head of the beach I discovered a stream of water flowing into the ocean. Could the stream’s source be the fresh water Bartram refers to during his camp on Nassau Sound? Perhaps it was. I feel it was. The well from which Bartram drank…
On the backside of Talbot Island, because it is indeed an island, not the mainland as Bartram reports, I found Sawpit Creek, which just might have been the place where Bartram and Mr. Egan camped. It has much changed.
Raucous roosting birds….
And I found the raucous roosting birds, mostly egrets, but with a great heron and some others promiscuously mixed in. The birds were easily startled, and flew from roost to roost, with some of my best pictures being of them taking flight.
To the Great Tattoo Artist in the Sky….
Aunt Angie, Mom, and I re-crossed the St. John’s River via the ferry and stopped and dined at a lovely little seafood restaurant, before returning to Cow-Ford. At Cow-Ford the river is indeed a mile across, but it has much grown from a simple public ferry. Now called Jacksonville, the city hugs the water.
A couple of years ago my old roommate, Mitchell Atkinson passed on to the other side. A tattoo artist extraordinaire, I believe he was getting creative with clouds when I took this image of Cow-Ford, the great tattoo artist in the sky.* Opening stanza from “The Slacks” by Trip Shakespeare.