Local Weather Conditions
MarshBunny Notes
The St. Johns River The Intracoastal and Beyond
The Maples

We don't have many trees that change color and drop their leaves, but here and there a stand of Maples will crop up for a while.

This stand of trees was a lovely, shady spot that was nice to pull up under for a lunch break or just to get out of the sun for a while. Once I had to jump in the water right there at the base of the reddest tree (regardless of any alligators that might live there) but that's another story.

The Maples in the Fall.
The stand of Maples at the river cut between Little Sawgrass and big Sawgrass lakes.

Maples don't last very long in the marsh. They slowly rot and become overgrown with vines that continue to choke further life out of them. The rising and falling level of the river washes the soil away from their roots leaving them vulnerable to a good strong wind.

Vines over everything.
Vines cover the dying trees.

The roots of a Maple tree are very shallowly spread out on the surface of thin, wet dirt. It's not even real dirt, sometimes, just a tangled mass of roots that catch at any nourishment the river sends it's way. That's the kind of island this one was. When the water was down you could get out and walk on the mound, but you could see that you were walking on a springy kind of sponge made up of tree and grass roots with loosly caught soil.

In a storm the foliage at the top of the tree catches the full force of the wind... the tree topples over and the shallow roots just rip up - taking the top layer of soil and plants with it.

A rootball where a tree fell over.
A rootball.

The tree will sometimes continue to grow for a while after it has fallen over, but it seems like these Maple stands need to be in a group to survive. When a group starts to fall they all pretty much go together.

The last of the Maple stand.

The marsh continues it's consumption of the Maples. It was a beautiful spot for a long time, but things change. At the base of this tree was where I jumped in the river at one time ... now it's home to Big Wally and you couldn't get me in that water if you set my pants on fire!

<<< SideNote: We know there is a huge 'gator who lives there now. We've named him Big Wally. We see him frequently and he is HUGE! The first time we spotted him Judy thought he must be artificial - something set out by Camp Holly to give the tourists a thrill. Then he lashed his tail and splashed into the water right in front of us. Gave us a thrill.

Unfortunately Wally is camera-shy. When I don't have the camera he just lays out full length in the sun. When I do have the camera somehow he always manages to get into the water before we get there and all we can do is watch him swim away. (This is still preferable to seeing him turn around and come at us. My boat is 13 1/2 ft. long and he appears to be longer. All photo chases will be discontinued during the months of mating season.) >>>

Bird on stump.This is all that's left.

But, life goes on in the marsh, and what was once a stand of Maples will now be a home to different birds and animals than it was before. The decomposing matter will float to other parts of the river to nourish new plants and perhaps form new islands.

And maybe start another stand of Maples.

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