I was missing my grandfather’s house yesterday. The gorgeous cloud formations made me remember laying on my back on the lawn, watching the clouds drift by and seeing what surprises I could find in them. I saw a happy little face off to the right in the feature photo.
Of course by the time I got home and could have laid in the grass the pretty clouds were close to the horizon and the dark clouds were taking over, and I could hear thunder…
I have to confess that as much as I enjoyed the butterflies at the Butterfly Rainforest yesterday I did let myself get distracted by the adorable Chinese Painted Quail that were busy scooting around in the underbrush. And sometimes napping on the walkway. Another visitor asked if they were okay, and the workers said yes they were. And added they they are the worlds smallest variety of quail. You can see them in the feature photo, a male and female I would expect.
Actually the fun started right when you walked into the lobby, before you even entered the rainforest. In the lobby was a huge screen on the wall, and when we entered on the screen was a Mastodon and baby, wandering in the lobby. We quickly discovered that if you walked into the area the animal on the screen would start following you, and chasing you. You can imagine how excited the two young boys we saw were as they were chased by a tiger.
Did you know that giant sloths existed years ago? Big! Like 14 feet tall or so. And Dog bears? Not a dog and not a bear, but a dog bear. And did you know that horses used to be small and have gotten bigger over time? I didn’t either. And now I wish I’d taken more pictures.
Continuing the theme of life along the Blue Ridge Parkway long ago we have the Puckett cabin. Home to ‘Aunt’ Orelena Hawks Puckett, who’s story left me astounded. Here is a photo of the sign that left me so amazed.
In case you are reading on your phone and can’t read the writing on the photo, she began her career in midwifery after age 50, and delivered her last baby in 1939 at age 102. She rode horseback or walked to care for her patients. The sign says that she never lost a mother or baby through her own fault. But, most upsetting to me, is the fact that she bore 24 children and none lived past infancy. I can’t help but wonder what the reasons for that were. And to realize that she was a hostage to her own body to have become pregnant all those times, which would have been enough to drive anyone over the edge, but she served her community all her days. To say that life was hard in those days is such an understatement.
To be honest I can’t remember if this photo was taken before or after we saw Puckett cabin. Not that it matters, but you can see that the scenery along the way had changed a lot from the scenery along Skyline Drive. We stopped for other displays along the way, more mountain homes, and a pond at which I spotted the white butterfly.
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers more than just the fabulous scenery at their stops along the way. Sometimes you find a preserved example of an Appalachian Farm to explore. It was nice to get out of the car for more than a minute or two, to walk a little, and to think of what challenges people faced not too long ago, to make a living in this quiet place.
Yes, I already posted photos of flowers from this fun place to visit, but I held off on the cars because I took so many pictures, since there were so many cars, and it all seemed overwhelming to sort through and edit. So I decided to just post the pictures straight out of the phone, period. The easy way out. Since the cars are located in a beautiful Shaker barn, I knew the phone would handle the lower light better than I could with my camera.
Oh, the workmanship. I was alone the last time I was here. I admired the cars but somehow didn’t savor them. This time I slowed down and appreciated the details. Each of the old cars is a thing of beauty. Brass fittings. Wonderful details. The evolution of the windshield. And lastly, a car a friend may may have driven to school our senior year of 1966. Not me though, my family were Chevy people.
If I had read the signage at the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park I might have looked at the site a little differently. Old ruins are frequently the subject of photographs, and this one was only a short distance from Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and required only a walk across the road to see it in its entirety. So it was a no-brainer to drive the two miles and see what was there. But in looking it up this morning I found myself surprised to read that it is the ruins of a forced-labor farm owned by David Levy Yulee. Once Florida became a state Yulee was elected to the Senate, and after Florida seceded from the union he became a member of the Confederate Congress. That he was an ‘enslaver’ was startling to read, maybe because of the terminology, or maybe the current political climate is making me take these statements less for granted than when read in a textbook years ago. He is also given credit for helping establish the network of railroads which became a boon to Florida’s economy. There is a much bigger story represented in this small space than I would ever have imagined.