The Weedon Tortoise

Recently I went down to St. Petersburg Florida to visit my son at college, which was great.  We hung out a bit, but he also had school stuff to do, so I one day I rambled around on my own.  It reminded me of my road days. Meaning, I’d often have blocks of time to kill after arriving at a place, before sound check, and I’d generally wind up somewhere I wouldn’t typically go, because I prefer to be doing something, even when I’m doing nothing.

Anyways, down in St. Pete, I set out for Weedon Island Preserve, which looked like an interesting place to take a swampy boardwalk hike.  Back in the day, Jude and I visited the Glades and took a guided walk through Big Cypress, walking sticks in hand, slogging through the muck –but it was actually a lot more beautiful than you might think, because there’s a lot to see when you learn to look.   So, this was the case, as I walked through Weedon, under the mangroves.   But, also, along the way I learned that…

Native Americans lived there 7000 years ago, and indeed, this past decade, archeologists discovered a 1000 year old forty foot canoe (pictured here), which was amazing to see, the way it was built and how intact it remained.  Then I also learned that much later in the 1930s, a developer wanted to turn it into a residential community or Florida Riveria.  Speakeasies were built.  Then came the Grand Central Airport, of which very little remains (also pictured here).  Still struggling to commodify  what was perfect in its origin, the next set of plans involved a movie studio.    Anyone ever see “Playthings of Desire” from 1933?  Yep, that was filmed there. Eventually, these pursuits failed and in 1972, Weedon was put on the National Register of Historic Places; and it was finally opened to the public in 1980.   

Through it all this little gopher tortoise keeps on trucking, slow rolling through the grass, reminding us that things are far more ephemeral than we think and humans only occupy this land for a short time.

Published by Doug Hoekstra

Father, wordsmith, musician, creative.

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