Myakka Magic During the Holiday Season
Guest post by Nancy Dobias
It’s incredible how many people spend their holidays at Myakka River State Park. When we first drove through the park on Christmas Eve and I saw all the tents and campers, I couldn’t help but wonder how Rudolph would maneuver Santa’s sleigh through all these huge oak canopies....or how would Santa be able to move quietly over this twig-strewn ground delivering his goodies without waking anyone.... It seemed a dilemma but maybe that’s part of the magic. It was wonderful to see even the alligators making their homes ready for Santa to deliver his goodies...so many dreamy looks as they pondered what they might receive....
I wonder what alligators want Santa to bring them.... If I were an alligator, I would want Santa to grant me a river, some wetlands or marshlands and a sunny bank and a nice cozy cave in which to relax where no one would bother me and wish me harm. I think they have found it at Myakka River State Park. All of the people who come to the park and make it a point to view the alligators are sure proof that there are many people who want that wish to come true as well!
New Year’s Eve was busier than Christmas Eve. All parts of the park had visitors. Several cars were parked below all the hiking trails, the canopy walk had an abundance of visitors, the bridge had people on both sides either fishing or taking pictures of the many alligators swimming along or treading water nearby and of course the weir had been discovered! There were people coming non-stop down to the viewing platform to take some pictures or to enjoy the view. I asked Larry if there was a path on the other side of the parking lot to the lake that we could explore. I didn’t realize that a path to me is not the same thing as a path to Larry.... I expected a NORMAL PATH. Instead, we went down a “path” that one or two people before us might have trod....
When we got to the lake, there were a few people out on the lake in canoes or other types of smaller boats. I would like to think the birds were there to greet us and wish us a Happy New Year but they were annoyed at our interrupting their dinner hour as we made our way along the lake’s edge in the direction of the weir. As we neared the vultures, we could see they were ogling all the rubber windshield wiper blades. They looked as though they were hatching a major plan and we noticed one of the herons trying her best to find out what those plans were.
As we looked around to see if other birds were paying those vultures any mind, they seemed oblivious. The heron must have set herself up as as the sentinel for the weir. The other birds did not seem to care one iota what capricious schemes those vultures might have been concocting. Instead we saw a snowy egret practicing her runway technique. She was oblivious to any kind of pranks the vultures might have been planning. As far as she was concerned, the most pressing order of the day was to get those cameras trained on her and she did everything possible to accomplish that!
Still that heron remained vigilant and still the other birds remained oblivious.... Even the alligators on the far shore were not interested in what nefarious plans the vultures might have been hatching. I guess as long as the heron was on guard, the other birds were confident that nothing was going to happen. She must be pretty good at her job because nothing did happen while we were there. The vultures did behave and all the cars had their windshield wipers still in place when we returned to the parking lot.
Before we left the park, we took a few more pictures of why folks are attracted to Myakka River State Park during the holiday season. There are only so many times you can park yourself on the beach. Sometimes it’s nice to just get outside and experience nature. Sometimes it’s nice to just get outside and DO something. Sometimes it’s nice to just get outside and explore somewhere. Sometimes it’s nice to just be....
Yes, Santa’s gifts are not always things you get from stores. Sometimes it’s the magic of being somewhere special.
HOPE EVERYONE HAS A WONDERFUL, SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May we all appreciate how priceless are those gifts that come without a pricetag attached.