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Glover Bight in Cape Coral Florida – Under the Boardwalk

About three-quarters of the way down Rose Garden Road in Cape Coral there is a small, usually empty parking lot on the left with a sign that says “Glover Bight Trail“. The”path“It’s actually one of Cape Coral’s newer boardwalks. At 1,500 feet, it winds through exposed saltwater wetlands and marshes toward an observation deck overlooking Glover Bight. The bay itself is a small Bay and anchorage at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River It is also one of the few remaining ecosystems that are home to the small-toothed sawfish, a dwindling species that has been in danger of extinction since 2003.

The Glover Bight Boardwalk begins at the immediate edge of the parking lot, marked by the only opening offered by tightly knit mangroves. Leaving my lonely car behind, I entered the green hallway of trees. The temple of nature is located under a canopy of leaves. Sun and shadows bounced and crawled against each other, across my skin, while living vegetation rubbed shoulders with the mid-spring breeze. Bright white sunlight made its way through the clustered and clustered branches, falling in mosaic patterns on everything in sight.

Walking the boardwalk in Southwest Florida is a pleasant, if predictable, experience. Having traveled along dozens of protected wetland walkways, I generally know what to expect when entering. Always the same gray non-slip material underfoot. Many trees. Some flying insects. Invisible spider webs that wrap around your face. I wonder where the hell the spider ended up. Mud with noxious odor in the dry season. Crocodile water in the rainy season. Mysterious noises in the bush and the unlikely snapping of twigs in all directions. What makes those noises? And, most importantly, no other people … even when the weather is perfect.

This lack of pedestrians makes the whole concept of the promenade enigmatic to me. I think of modern commercial and residential development. I think of the suburban sprawl. I think about how difficult it is to get a government, even a city government, to do something for the sake of nature or the enjoyment of conservationists. I think of the emotionless bureaucratic systems that we have voluntarily established. Then I look at the miles of little-known but immaculately maintained boardwalks running through this part of our state, mindfulness mazes, reminders of how much we’ve already lost, and inspirations of how important it is to save what we’ve left behind.

All of these thoughts leave me wondering how any of these boardwalks were built in the first place. I’m not naive … I realize that most parks and conservation areas are token public relations tithes that local governments force money-hungry developers to pay before they are allowed to rape and loot parcels much larger natural beauty. But who were they built for? Who uses these places?

I mean, I have Never I have been a great admirer of other human beings, so it is completely logical for me to frequent these sanctuaries without people. But where is everyone else? Am I the only visitor?

I often see evidence that others have walked before me. I read their travels in the empty beer cans, chocolate bar wrappers, and scattered pieces of clothing they left behind. Why do I find single shoes and pairs of pants in nature?

I am not always completely alone. Every now and then I see other people out there. The divorced father with his son for the weekend. The determined dog walker. The middle-aged woman who enjoys the outdoors with her worn cane. All taking silent, insistent steps and adhering to their self-imposed vows of silence. We pass each other, silent and suspicious, barely making eye contact … we return to surface awareness until the dishonest footsteps fade and our deep communion with nature pulls us back under its spell.

We come to the boardwalks and nature trails to be alone, away from other people. Some of us are responding to a primordial call for the little bits of landscape that money and pollution have not yet changed or ruined. Some of us need a place away from parents, spouses, and other authority figures. Some of us need a safe place to exercise. Some of us look for a place to drink underage beers and smoke illegal substances. Some of us need a quiet place to think or heal. Today I come to look for the words to fill this unwritten idea of ​​a personal essay.

Walking through the mangroves instantly takes me elsewhere. Scents change, from car exhaust and hot pavement to oxygen and compost released by plants. Memories linked to my sense of smell crackle electromagnetically and make their way into visual existence. Scenes from my adventurous childhood are organically mounted in my thoughts.

After-school hours and on weekends gave me plenty of time to explore all the nooks and crannies of my hometown. I would go out on foot and follow the paths and paths that were revealed to me.

In the future, there is a stark contrast between my childhood and the adult perceptions of the places I came across. Knee deep in the creek mud… septic runoff. On a wide, clear road through the woods… the right-of-way of a high-voltage power line increases my chances of childhood cancer. Climb fences and investigate disused factory buildings… illegal break-in. Digging an intriguing depression in a small patch of forest, possibly a Native American bonfire… shuddering at the expression on the old man’s face when he told us angrily that we were digging a grave that contained the charred remains of several of his previous dogs.

As I turn the corner, passing out somewhere between narcotic memories and the now omnipresent, an awakening comes to me. I stop and stand still … suddenly I realize that I can’t hear the sound of a gasoline engine. Nothing but gentle breezes, rustling leaves, birds mating and twigs snapping. The audible pulse of nature.

I cross an elevated area on the boardwalk, the only stretch with high sides. I slow down and look around me. Why have they built boardwalk sides here, but nowhere else? On tiptoe, and looking down into an area that most people would never look at, I see a lot of trash. Who would take all this junk out onto a nature trail to dump it?

Further investigation reveals the trash pile as an overturned shoe box containing handfuls of addressed and sealed envelopes, hand-drawn drawings, and a few small trinkets. Who uses these places?

With curiosity piqued, I slowly press forward. At another bend I come to an observation tower and a set of steps that I assume are for transporting kayak. I begin my ascent of the tower, reading the myriad of vulgar graffiti and declarations of love that others have engraved on the bars and floors. The torn letters and envelopes litter the surrounding dark swamp, written in the same hand as those in the shoebox. A heartbroken teenager mourns the end of a puppy love relationship amid the trees and the sky?

The top of the observation tower rests on the mangrove canopy. A surface of leaves extends in all directions. The only significant mark of human existence is the massive fortress of the Tarpon Point Marina skyscrapers currently under construction in the Southwest.

The fiddler crabs click and dart back into their holes as I continue the rest of my short journey to the end of the boardwalk. Mission accomplished, I stand on the terrace overlooking Glovers Bight. A couple of covered benches adorn the wooden platform. Some stairs descend into the water. And a sign adorning one of the wooden posts asks visitors to call if they see any small-toothed sawfish while they’re here.

But this ride has not been over the cove for me. It has been a meditation on the identity of my fellow walkers on the boardwalk, a question about the soul and purpose of the holy places and the people who visit them. Who are they? Why do they come? What does this place mean to them?

When I go back the way I came, I realize that I cannot allow the shoebox and the cards to slowly die in the mud. They revealed themselves to me as evidence, a story that needed to be told, an unmasking of my invisible companions, the walkers and their invisible intentions.

The well hidden correspondence cache is almost inaccessible. I try to use sticks and other crude tools to facilitate their collection … all to no avail. It becomes apparent that I will have to leave the safety of the seawall in an effort to consummate his recovery … towards Gator Central. Why have they built boardwalk sides here, but nowhere else? I shudder at what might be living underneath the same stretch of boardwalk I’m standing on, but I can’t allow my petty fears to prevent the truth from being revealed. Shaking from the disgusting teeth I imagine clamped to the flesh of my leg, I leap over the railing, leap off the edge, and land on the surface of the swamp with a soft thud.

I shuffle through the papers in a blinding blur of adrenaline and climb back up to the dry sanctuary, handfuls of soggy parchment in hand. Wouldn’t it be awkward if the original owner of these cards showed up now? I get back to the trailhead at a brisk pace, jump into the only car in the parking lot, lock the doors, and head home.

Once home, I fan the wet paper and smear the ink on a wide table. Pages on envelopes, on drawings, on more envelopes. All dated and signed, with full names, addresses and a postage stamp on each one. Putting myself in forensic detective mode, I began to analyze the records, searching for their plot, searching for the revelation that I was surely destined to receive.

Slowly, a gritty and heartbreaking drama of family troubles, legal troubles, and love gone wrong came into focus. Postmarked letters from six years ago, but wanted to go to the swamp in the last two days. Because right now? The recent journey these letters had taken raised more questions than their written content revealed.

What I learned?

Who uses these places? People are a lot like the rest of us. People who need to think of new things and forget some of the old. Why do they come? For the same vague reasons that we all do. What does this place mean to them? What does it mean to me? What does it mean to you? I guess our personal meanings are similar to snowflakes …all practically the same, but not two exactly identical.

I collected the letters, scraps of paper from a human life, and disposed of everything properly. My mind throbbed, freshly imprinted with old memories that someone else was actively trying to erase. I should have let the secrets of my fellow travelers unravel undisturbed in their shallow water grave. I can’t think of a more appropriate setting … a graveyard of memories right in the middle of where we go to be alone. What secrets have I let the boardwalk keep?

Every childhood and every city has these kinds of lonely and empty places. Abandoned houses. Paths in the forest. Corners of empty baseball fields. Maritime walks through the desert. Places without admission cost and without supervision. Places without entertainment and without other people. Places that do not judge. Places that accept and forgive.

It’s strange, how these forgotten places are the ones we remember the most.

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