Withlacoochee River County Park, a Little Gem in the Great Green Swamp
Mid-summer. The Florida sandhill is a desperate location for any living thing. The sun is unrelenting and all of the recommendations about a wide-brimmed hat, drinking plenty of water, donning light clothing, and being ‘summer smart’ seem ineffective. Not a single bird sings in the tremendous heat and the only sound comes from the brush of wiregrass, the crackle of last fall’s turkey oak leaves, and the crunch of longleaf pinecones under foot. The environment offers fewer obstacles here than an oak hammock or a pine flatwood system, and a kicked pinecone soars into the goal of a patch of saw palmetto twenty feet from my boot. I throw up my arms indicating ‘goal!’ before the heat reminds me who is boss around here. Then a rumble of thunder, gathering clouds and the promise of a rain offer a possible respite. But first I retreat a couple of hundred feet to the banks of the slow, gathering waters of the Withlacoochee River.