Everglades ecosystem from the headwaters to
the mangroves…from Reedy Creek near Disney
World to Florida Bay in the Keys.
He has photographed most of the system, however
there are places he has missed.
We have never been to Lake Kissimmee.
I didn’t realize how much beauty we were
missing in our life! What a glorious lake
and surrounding area!
We have a time-share and traded it for
a week at River Ranch on the Kissimmee River.
Oh my, it was a wonderful week! Peace,
quiet and a lot of nature! A perfect place to get
away from the hectic rush of life…
White fences…cattle, rodeos, fishing, air boat
rides, and just laying around and enjoying
the peace, quiet and beautiful scenery.
I was totally spoiled!
didn’t have a name. When Clyde stopped to
photograph the oak tree hanging out over the
creek, we heard chimes. I turned and behind
us was a beautiful oak tree with trinkets
hanging from it, and a chime. In front of the
oak tree was a cross with the words:
“To a wonderful Mother and loving
I thought, how her children must have loved
her to use this tree as a memory tree.
As we waited for the light to be right, grandma’s
chimes sang music to us…it was a moment that
I charish when I remember our adventures
on Kissimmee River.
And soooo….we named the creek
a good example of how straight the
core of engineers can make a river.
However, we do need to say that when
you ask the core to do something, by golly,
they do it! We asked them to straighten
the Kissimmee River…we asked them
to drain the Everglades…and they did it and
they did a very good job of it.
No one else could do it. I hope they can
fix it as well as they fouled it up…
we could into the plants so they
would hold it steady while Clyde
took the photograph
it seemed to hover over Kissimmee
River. But, when it got thick, we
headed for cover!
We decided to drive around and see where we could
launch our boat into Lake Kissimmee. We were
fortunate to come across Grape Hammock Fish Camp.
It is a rarity…true old Florida. It felt so good to be
around scenery that reflected how Florida was
before it became paved, pruned and prissied.
Not only was the scenery comforting, but the Chandler
family who has owned this fish camp for generations
were gracious and thoughtful folks. We enjoyed
getting to know them.
though heaven bent down and kissed
the earth…the clouds were so
close I felt I could touch them.
of the lake where Twenty-seven
Palms is located…and we head
off in that direction…
“Along the edge of Brama Island”
the storm became, until we had to turn
and head in the other direction…
and Maurice (Moe) Riverbank joined us
as we headed out into Lake Kissimmee
and Brama Island
Jeff Klinkenberg is a journalist for the
St Pete Times. He writes wonderful stories
about the “real” folks of Florida. He gets
to meet some of the greatest and most
unusual people…what a life!
Anyway, Jeff wanted to interview Clyde,
so we met him at Lake Kissimmee for the
day. He brought us his new book:
Pilgrim In the Land of Alligators
Once Clyde and I started reading it
we had to fight over it because the book
was filled with so many real & unusual stories
about the strange folks that live in
Florida. We took turns each night
reading it…a very good book…check it out!
mysterious row of houseboats…
The Lightsey family had just received an honor
for the environmental efforts of their ranch:
the 2009 Florida Farmer of the Year Award.
When Barrett Chandler, son in law of the Lightsey’s,
invited Clyde out to photograph their
ancient oak on Brama Island, we were excited to
be a small part of the life of a farmer/rancher who
loves his land enough to nourish it and
keep it healthy for generations.
Brama Island is 40,000 acres…”give or take a few
depending on the height of the water,” says Barrett.
Seventy-five percent of the property is in conservation
to preserve the land in its natural state for generations.
In addition to a small ranch, Brama Island contains
ancient Indian settlements, 28 endangered
species and 14 bald eagle nests.
Brama Island is a small portion of the lands owned
by the Lightsey family. To be invited to see this
special place was an honor.
Film maker Elam Stoltzfus and his son Nic
joined us for a couple of days out on the lakes
videographer of Clyde for the public television program
Visions of Florida. As Clyde puts it, “I’ve known
Elam long enough that we have gone gray
Elam has been filming Clyde for a long time
and decided it was time to put together all of that
film into a documentary on Clyde. With that
in mind, he comes into our life now and
then to film us doing ‘this and that’…
The goal is to get our recent projects into
the film. However, we seem to always have
more projects than he can keep up with!
When the documentary
airs, we’ll be sure to let you know.
to shove off in Elam’s boat.
this day was no exception. We ‘ran’ before
the storm hoping to get to shore before
it hit. But, my oh my, what wonderful
dramatic skies those storms created!
Elam Stoltzfus and his son Nic join
us in the adventure of finding
Reedy Creek is the headwaters of the
Everglades ecosystem. We have been to
the area of Reedy Creek north of the Lake
Kissimmee ecosystem, where it pours into
Lake Russell at the Disney Wilderness Preserve,
but Clyde wanted another photo of where
it pours into the Lake Kissimmee area.
The search was on….
We moved out of our time-share at River Ranch
and into the Howell’s duck hunting cabin.
hunting cabin, and we gladly took them
up on it. What a wonderful gift it was for
us. We relaxed in luxury. Thier generosity
made our trip much more
relaxing and wonderful.
The map on the wall is of Lake Kissimmee.
the canal toward Lake Hatchineha, then into
Lake Cypress and then, hopefully, into
“HERE IS REEDY CREEK ENTRANCE”
We searched and searched. When we finally found the
right slit in the grass we were overjoyed! I felt like an
explorer of ancient times who had found my way…
Clyde takes the photograph. It was a
hot day and Tyke jumped overboard
to swim around and cool off.
isn’t behind the camera. He set the camera up and
I clicked the shutter. Because the photo was taken
from the pontoon boat, someone had to hold the boat
still. No matter how he and Buzz tied up the boat
it still moved. The exposure was a long exposure, so
that meant that he and Buzz would have to get off
the boat, climb into the water (which was shallow
enough that they could touch bottom) and hold
the boat…and it STILL moved. So, Clyde went under
the boat and stood between the pontoons where
the platform is, and then lifted the boat up with
his head. He’d tell me when to ‘click’, he’d count out
the seconds, and then I’d release the shutter. We did
it several times hoping one of the negs would turn out.
Looked like it was about ready to rain,
so no photography happened. Too bad,
because it certainly was a beautiful
area…lots of possibilities.
this photo because he was constantly
waiting for a boat wake to stop.
Just as one would stop, another boat
would appear and create another wake.
These two trees are known for the fun that
air boaters have zooming between them
at full speed!
unloads his film and loads a new batch.
to spend the day with us out on Lake Hatchineha
Dead River got its name because of all the
twists, turns and blind corners in the river.
Air boats have a tendency to go fast, and
often crash into each other as they round
a bend…resulting in many deaths.
the equipment out there and cleaning up the
garbage, Clyde developed the film and didn’t like
the resulting image. To much contrast…
knew they had an ancient oak on their property, so
he asked the Zippers if he could take us out to see
it. We jumped in an electric cart and headed out into
the property of the Zipper Ranch.
by cattle. Buzz ran around gently chasing the
cattle out of the photograph. However, they
LOVED the shade of the tree and were
constantly coming back into the photo. Buzz
did a lot of moving cattle before Clyde was
able to photograph the tree.
noticed this cow heading toward him. She
was intent on Clyde. We’ve had interesting
encounters by many different kinds of
wild animals, but never, ever, by cows. Clyde
had no idea what to expect, but he stood his
ground and didn’t leave his camera alone.
him and the cow. It is one BIG animal, with very
large horns. Clyde wasn’t at all comfortable
with the situation. However, the cow just sniffed
around and decided there was no food,
then meandered off into the distance….
much to Clyde’s relief.
I think Clyde feels more comfortable around ‘gators
than he does around cattle….
Our trip to Lake Kissimmee was filled with the beautiful
glory of this earth, but that beauty was magnified
by the gracious generosity of the people we met.