Man Eating Pythons

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I had the good fortune of exchanging ideas with an old friend from Okeechobee today. I had sent him an article about the Indian snake charmers brought to Florida to hunt pythons. This, of course, led to a python discussion. I found out that he skinned the 17+ foot legendary snake killed at a local veterinarian’s office years back. He told me the skin was preserved to grace the wall of the new veterinary office. He also vividly recalled the snake’s girth. It was 27 inches. I wore size 26 Levi’s my senior year in high school. I had to fight back the thought of pythons wearing Levi’s or worse yet, crawling out of a pair as I reached for them.

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How to Eat the State Tree

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If there ever was a tree of life it would or should be the Sabal Palm. It has provided humans with food, shelter, and fiber for thousands of years. The breeze ruffling through its broad leaves provides serenity. The sound has lulled many a Florida cowboy, hunter and camper to sleep under the glorious shade it provides.  A cross section of the woody portion of the leaf looks like a softly rounded pyramid. The tree provided hours of entertainment for me and the kids I grew up with. We all had pocket knives. Dry or green the woody portions of the leaves were easily carved into darts, arrows, spears, wind mills, helicopters, fishing lures, marshmallow and hot dog grilling sticks. Street vendors can now be found selling elaborate weaving of the leaves turned into art. The trees were everywhere. The trunks have been turned into pilings, support posts for some of the gracious porches that wrap around old ‘Cracker’ houses in the interior of Florida as well as along the coast. Most have been replaced over the years, first by heart pine, then pressure treated timber. The logs are also effective in repelling cannon balls. Fort Moultrie (Fort Sullivan then), built to protect Charleston Harbor during the Revolution, came under attack June 1776 by British war ships. The palm logs remained impervious to the bombardment by ships and, by the end of the day, the British ships, heavily damaged, limped off. Four hundred patriots and palm logs handed the British a stinging defeat and set the tone for the rest of the Revolution. The event is still celebrated as ‘Carolina Day’. The name of the fort was changed to honor Commander William Moultrie who led his band of patriots to victory. The ground underneath is still called Sullivan’s Island. Continue reading “How to Eat the State Tree”

Guava Man Cometh

I’ve made cryptic references in a couple of posts about this incredible tropical fruit that lends itself to jams, jellies, syrups, desserts, grilled meat, and sauces without mentioning much about its origins. Many botanists agree that the lowly guava is native to Mexico, Central America and the Yucatán Region. It is well suited to thrive in South Florida. For the record, it is no more invasive than orange trees.

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