Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cosmic Thoughts on the Demise of a Roadside Trading Post

I was driving home from the "Give Springs A Break" event in Northcentral Florida where my head was filled with lots of information about springs, much of which was not warm and fuzzy. Hydro geologist Todd Kinkaid, one of the premier scientists studying the flow of underground water in the state concluded that springs will become "ephemeral systems." That means they will no longer have enough water pressure to flow normally unless large rain events increase the amount of water bubbling to the surface. Depressing stuff.

I stopped at Wildwood just before the turnpike to gas up and I noticed a rundown trading post next to the "Florida Citrus Center" where I was pumping fuel. In a previous blog I explored the Cherokee Trading Post on the other side of Wildwood near the Turnpike.  I drove over to photograph the weathered signage on the side of the building and was surprised to find that the roof had caved in and the entire building was full of plants. The age of roadside "Trading Posts" has long passed; our culture has more sensitivity towards Native Americans and places like this are no longer politically correct. Exploring the crumbling structure felt like observing an archeological relic from the not-to-distant past. The overgrown interior reminded me of the resiliency of nature and how that when left alone, the earth's environment will bounce back with remarkable speed. Perhaps mankind is ephemeral, and the earth is just waiting us out to set things right.

Florida seems to be in the midst of tremendous growth spurt again, and the forces of change are at work all along the roadside. When viewed from the limited window of a human lifespan, the amount of damage mankind makes to natural systems can seem overwhelming. But as Todd Kincaid reminded us, the amount of time humans have been around compared to the age of the planet is infinitesimal and the havoc we wreak on the environment is just a blip on the radar of cosmic time. The detrimental effects of our short-sightedness may not ultimately harm the planet itself, but rather merely cripple our own species. Let's hope we see the errors of our ways before it's too late.

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