The cicadas’ shrill rattle disrupts the silence on our stroll thru Turkey Creek’s 130-acre sanctuary in Palm Bay, Florida.
Laurel Oak trees hung heavy with moss loom over the sandy soil along the creek. Palm trees crowd the shore.
Sweat pours off me even on this leisurely stroll. The heat is unrelenting, inescapable – even when we’re tucked into a shady spot under a covered bridge.
First, we venture to the Creek Overlook Vista which “stands on an ancient sand dune – formed about 11,000 years ago when the sea level was much higher,” according to the Sanctuary’s self-guided nature trail brochure.
The hike along the nearly 2-mile boardwalk is deceptive. Each time it appears the path has ended, another crook in the trail reveals itself.
Sunlight and shadows play tricks in the muddy water. The occasional breeze brings some relief, and I am thankful we brought bottled water.
A warning sign that some intruder is in the forest? Or, is this just nature’s way of clearing its throat to remind me that “I was here first.”
Years earlier, I sat by the canoe deck and was calmed by ripples in the dark tea-colored water. The color is the “result of tannin leached from leaves. The muddy brown color is due to the large amount of sediment in the runoff from the city.”
The unexpected noise distracts me from my lonely reverie. I hear a gurgle as if thru a blow hole. About 20 feet from the bridge, a shiny snout tentatively surfaces.
A manatee’s head emerges. Then he ducks back into the water.
Seconds later, I see his 8-foot-long golden-brown shadow glide quietly just beneath the creek’s surface.
I try not to make a sound as I edged along the bridge’s railing. I watch in awe until the manatee is out of sight.
This visit there was no manatee sighting. Disappointing. We saw about a dozen turtles – mostly Florida Cooters – and a Florida Softshell, which has a pointed snout, swim up near the deck and check us out.
A turtle paddles both his front and back feet before lowering his head and diving underwater.
Even a bug’s efforts are fascinating. It struggles mightily against the tide, moving upstream in short spurts.
On our way out, we pass a shrub with wild olives among its dark evergreen leaves. A wild coffee shrub, with glossy leaves, has dark red berries. These berries were used by early Florida pioneers to brew a caffeinated drink.
We stop at the Gazebo. A couple emerges from the trail with their dogs. One of the dogs carries the bottled water they get to indulge in from their collapsible dog dishes.
Then, a car’s shrill alarm pierces the silence. A reminder that civilization is just a short distance away.
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Video: Sounds among the silence at Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay, Florida (taken by Judy Berman, 9-8-13)
All photos taken at Turkey Creek Sanctuary by Judy Berman on 9-8-13:
- Main Photo: Welcome to Turkey Creek sign
- View from Creek Overlook Vista
- Do Not Feed Alligators sign
- Squirrel on boardwalk
- Turtles in creek
- Wild Coffee
- Beauty Berry
Photo: manatee – a West Indian manatee in Florida waters – Photo from U.S. Geological Fact Sheet. Also known as ‘the gentle sea cow’ http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6f/FL_fig04.jpg