Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Piece of Florida Gone...But This Time, It's Personal

I was in St. Augustine with my parents yesterday taking pictures of parts of the Old City for my brother, who is writing his Bachelor's thesis on the Minorcans of Florida. We stopped by The Mission (It's called something else, but we've always just called it "The Mission") to take some pictures there, and I figured this would be a good time to visit the grave of my great, great, great grandfather, who is buried in Tolomato Cemetery, which surrounds The Mission. After taking some pictures and stopping for a moment at the Knights of Columbus memorial to the victims of abortion, we began looking for the gravesite of Pvt. Domingo Pacetti and his wife Antonia. We believed that they were somewhere near the abortion memorial, taking off of the memory from many past visits by my mom and dad. But neither he or she were anywhere to be found. We scoured the entire cemetery...twice...seeing familiar names such as Mickler, Andreu, and Pellicer, but there were no Pacettis to be found anywhere. Our ancestor's graves were gone. They simply disappeared. They've been there for over a century, and they are simply gone. Maybe somebody in the family relocated them, maybe they feel victim to vandalism (the cemetery has been vandalized many times in the past,) and...I would be disappointed if this is the case...maybe the abortion memorial took their gravesite. The memorial is nice, but I would be (expletive) (expletive) if it stood over the gravesite of my ancestors. There for years and years, and simply gone. Sound familiar?

I may go over to Mill Creek Cemetery, where a lot of our family is buried, and just see if they are there. It would make sense, because Domingo and Antonia did live (and die) on his father's land grant in Mill Creek (around what is now Bakersville.) But, still, what happened to the Pacettis at Tolomato Cemetery?

Please, if anybody knows there wherabouts of Private Domingo Pedro Pacetti and Mrs. Antonia Hernandez Pacetti, tell me. Both my mother and I are deeply hurt, and we want to know what happened. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Sense of Exploration

Note: So Blogger is being stubborn once again, and I cannot post the photos that go along with this story. I will soon, though. Also, this story has a really negative twist at the end. I did not mean for it to turn out that way, but it just did. I just stated what was on my mind. Thanks for reading!

I wrote a while back about my intentions to take a hike through the woods to see about some ruins I had spotted on a topographical map. And I told you I would post about it....And I never did...But here it is! I actually wrote this post a while back , but I just never got around to posting it......

Note: I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures...I just snapped them while I was walking, and didn't pay much attention to them. More pictures will be coming soon from my father, who is a professional photographer. Needless to say, those pictures will be considerably better. Now, sit back and enjoy the story.

A couple months ago, while studying a map of the northern St. Johns County area, I took a close look at what my loyal readers now know as one of my favorite kayaking spots (Durbin Creek.) I was very surprised when I found the mark "ruins" back in the woods off the creek. I did some research and found....absolutely nothing. So I did the only thing a true Florida boy could do: go and see for myself...After all, what's better than spending a day out in the swamp?! After months of continuous nagging aimed at my dad, I finally convinced him to go trudgin' with me. You see, he was raised in Steeltown USA (Pittsburgh,) and he did not have many up close natural encounters when he was younger. As a result, he is not too big on the idea of walking around in a muddy, wild, smelly, nasty swamp that harbors many poisonous snakes and gators. (It's funny because all of those reasons that he hates the swamp are the exact reasons why I love it!!)
I rounded up two other people, my friend Ben and my history teacher Mr. Sarcasm (no, that's not his real name :-D) both of whom seemed very eager to go on a little discovery mission. Unfortunately, Ben had to drop out due to other commitments, so it was left up to me, my dad, and Mr. Sarcasm.
We met Mr. Sarcasm at the Racetrack Road bridge over Durbin Creek at 12:30, and set up all our gear and other accessories, whether necessary or not. My dad and I set off in the kayak to scout out a good place to start our walk, and found it...only about 100-200 yards downstream...We would have been better off walking across the creek.

No matter, the plan was already underway, so we decided not to deviate from it. I dropped my dad off on the bank (well, really just a muddy quagmire between two snags at the water's edge,) and paddled back upstream to pick up Mr. Sarcasm.

After tying the 'yak to a tree, we set off into the deep, dark cypress swamp.

The walk was easier and much drier than usual due to the lack of rainfall this year, and I believe we were all thankful for that. We blew right through that swamp with no problems at all.

On our way to the ruins site, we came across this very interesting "fanned-out" cypress tree. It is hard to see in this picture, but the tree is at least 5 feet (maybe closer to 6) at the base. What could cause this? Current? When would there have been a current sustained long enough to cause this? I think we're all "stumped" by it :-D.

Soon after passing Fanny the Cypress, we came upon a noticeable rise in the land, along with a noticeable increase in the density of the vegetation. We pushed ourselves through branches and vines for about 50-100 yards or so, and came upon a piece of cleared land.

I know this land has been cleared within the last couple of years, because not long ago, it was heavily forested. There was evidence of tractors...but no evidence of ruins. We were all disappointed. After a good walk around, we decided that there was no way anything standing there would have remained after the tractors had destroyed the land. Who knows what could have been there? Maybe it wasn't that old...but what if it was? No matter what, it was just another piece of Florida history gone. And the land in much of these pictures you see here will be permanently disturbed or destroyed by the great "progress" of the Bartram Park development that is overtaking much of southern Duval county as we speak. I find it laughable that many of these developers like to name their wildlife-destroying business ventures after naturalists (William Bartram) and places in natural literarure (Walden Pond.) William Bartram and Henry David Thoreau are rolling over in their graves. And I will be too, when I die surrounded by yankees and condos, remembering what this state used to be like. Oh well, just another disappointment from South New York.

The Evidence

These pictures are the evidence from the little critter(s) that has been paying us a visit every night. We're not sure whether he's a coon, armadillo, or possum, but whatever he is, he sure has an appetite for citrus. Maybe there's more than one...Or just one very gluttonous animal. He's taken even more since these pictures were taken and the current satsuma harvest count comes in as follows:

Critter: 14
Me: 2

As you can see, my furry friends have been enjoying my citrus more than I have been. Oh well, I guess I can share. You can also see, though, how great the fruit on the higher branches looks! These pictures were taken at night, by the way, in case you didn't notice!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just Another Reminder

Well, I am ending my long, self-imposed rest from blogger. I look forward to writing posts, and I really do feel bad about leaving my few loyal readers hanging, just waiting for me to post. I have lots to write about! I have pictures that go along with this post...I hope to post them tomorrow morning.

Well, tonight is going to be a cold one down here in The Sunshine State. We're looking at lows all the way down into the high 30s (stop laughing, counterparts in the north) with a possibility of frost in the morning. After reading the Hazardous Weather Outlook posted by the National Weather Service Jacksonville, I decided that it would be best to bring in my young Datils just to be sure they will be okay. I don't mind this little bit of work, especially considering it was cold outside and it was 11 PM (the only time around here when you get a little quiet.) So as I walked into our bakyard, through a few spider webs (sorry for ruining your night's work, my web-weaving friends), and out toward where I keep the Datils. This path takes me by the citrus trees, and I smelled a strong scent of fresh-opened satsuma...

FLASHBACK - Earlier tonight, I heard my dog, Kendall, chasing some critter in the back, but I figured it was just a squirrel (boy do I have a squirrel story to tell you!) I let her inside after giving her a scolding to share her territory with the animals around her. She gave me this look of "Yeah, right."

BACK TO THE STORY - Intrigued and concerned about the unusually stong smell, I looked down and saw opened and partially eaten satsumas strewn across the ground. "Ah dangit!" I said. My first reaction was of anger and frustration, as I saw 12 of our precious satsumas wasted. "Looks like we've had some raccoon visitors," I told my parents. As I went back outside and looked once again at the massacred fruits, I had a sudden sense of wisdom...
You know, these animals need to eat. They sense it getting cold, and, heck, who would turn down free satsumas! Now I really don't feel so angry at the little guys who feasted on my fruit tonight. Perhaps it was their thanksgiving dinner...a little early, but the holidays seem to be getting earlier every year, anyway. This little experience serves as a reminder to me (and now to those of you reading) that we humans are not the only ones living on this Earth. There are others we are sharing this land with - living creatures who have been here longer than we have...Creatures who want to live, too. Though I'm disappointed about the trivial loss of a few pieces of food, those satsumas may have helped some animals survive winter. And that, in my book, is worth all the satsumas in the world.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Am I going to post? AM I?!

Nope. I'm being lazy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Go Away

Well it looks like I have just about finished all of my work that I missed while in Wisconsin last week. I will begin working on a post about it soon, but I have a LOT of emails to write...And those people take precedence over all of you...Now go away.

Here's a teaser fresh from Williams Bay, WI to all of you Floridians who feel season-starved like I do: