Exploring a New Estuary

Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) Wild climbing vine

Today we explored a trail at the Long Creek Nature Preserve that leads down to a saltwater marsh. The land was not originally a saltwater marsh. Long Creek was severed from its natural connection by a canal, which led to saltwater intrusion (and consequently brought in new fauna and flora).

One of the twists of water in Long Creek Nature Preserve. You can’t tell from the picture, but the water is constantly popping with creatures.
E loved watching these crabs sidestepping around in the mud.

We saw an osprey nest high up in a tree, with two extraordinarily vocal ospreys that E named Spy and Nick. (Who knows if the wildlife folks here have given them formal names.)

Two ospreys keeping guard over their enormous nest. Still only about half the size of the bald eagles’ nest in our neighborhood, however.

The site of Long Creek Nature Preserve is also of archaeological significance. In previous centuries, the area had been a plantation wharf. The wharf was used during the colonial period to load boats full of cotton, sugar, and corn. The boats would then follow the creeks up to Matanzas Bay off of the Atlantic Ocean, where these commodities would be transferred to larger ships and transported around the world. The land was owned by Joseph Martin Hernandez during the colonial era of Florida history.

This is a good introduction to plantation life and infrastructure for E. On another day, I intend to take her to the ruins of a sugar plantation just up the road from our house. (It’s a short drive away, but you have to hike into the jungle to see the actual ruins, which should be rewarding in itself.)

We have been reading The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano as a means of discussing the practice of slavery, so she will understand what she is seeing when we walk around the plantation site. This is the autobiography of a man who was born to a noble family in Africa, was kidnapped by members of another tribal group, and sold into slavery in the Caribbean, Virginia, and England. He talks frankly about the horrors of slavery and the different ways slaves were treated in different regions. The book is accessibly written for a child and is something of a page-turner as well.

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