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Notes from Hunter Creek

“If It’s Spring…”

I knew spring was coming! Hey, I predicted it way back in mid-February.  

First the grass started  to get a green tinge to it. Then less eagles and more buzzards. After that robins began appearing in mass on the lawn.        

So I like to cut the Ozarks winters short sometimes. In late February, I traveled to eastern and central Florida. Ozark temp: – 2 degrees; Okeechobee, Florida temp:  86 degrees, a difference of 88 degrees for those limited in math skills.  

Okeechobee is home to my good pals, Marcy, Preston, and Jessica and their faithful hound, Buster. While fishing Okeechobee Lake was on my menu, it wasn’t on Preston’s.         

Many months earlier Preston had caught some fresh oysters in the bay and like a lot of folks, added a little horseradish and ate them raw on the soft shell. He has been losing weight for 6 months now, from 185 down to 130.                     

Finally after seeing a third doctor and a specialist, it was discovered that parasites had traveled from the oysters to the lining of his small intestine and were basically slowly devouring him. He’s still on the mend. And I now have a new resolution. No more raw shellfish, especially oysters and clams, all of which I used to love. 

After visiting Okeechobee, I went 40 miles east to Jupiter, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean to attend legal training and hold a brief discussion on the Missouri legal defenses of Stand Your Ground and the Castle Doctrine. Missouri’s laws in these areas rank as the second strongest in the nation, after Florida and Texas state’s almost identical legal codes.             

I had some wonderful cooked seafood in Jupiter and drove by the backside of Trump’s palace, Mira Lago, the old Emily Post estate. 

Then I went north to St. Mary’s, Georgia and met my sister and her husband from Culpeper Va. There we took a 50 min. ferry ride to the incredible beauty of Cumberland Island Nat’l Seashore.      

Cumberland Island is similar to a lot of low country barrier plantation islands. Formerly, they were farmed by slaves and their owners, mainly for rice and cotton. The island was given to slave families by Republican military governors following the Civil War. Later it was eventually purchased by wealthy magnates like McCormick, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie. There are a couple of old “Summer Home” mansions and several ruins scattered about. No vehicles are allowed. 

But what is really amazing about the island is the jungle feel with all of the  massive live oaks with dangling Spanish Moss, scattered among a few royal palms and lots of palmetto shrubs.    

Then we ventured 40 miles north to Jekyll Is., Georgia where we spent a couple of nights, and chowed down on a wonderful shrimp and crab boil and corn and sausage at the Wharf Restaurant. Delic! By the way, Jekyll Is., is located just off the southern Georgia coast near Brunswick Ga. and its new historic and beautiful high Lanier Bridge over the Jekyll River. The whole island is a state park, but the issuance of hotel and resort licenses unfortunately now vastly outnumber its two campgrounds.       

So anyway when I arrived back home on March 13th, the crocuses are up. The turkeys are gobbling and the grass is so green that I am now concerned with getting my weed-eater and mowers ready for – you know. And the temperature range is from 30-60. Nice!    

And if it’s spring, it’s time begin thinking about spring floats on the upper reaches of the area Ozark streams and the Buffalo and Spring Rivers in Arkansas.    

And above all, don’t forget the whitewater gems only floatable ‘til  around the first of May; beautiful Swan and Bull Creeks in Taney County. 

Note: I have done a little research on these shellfish parasites that affected my good bud, Preston Platt. They are similar but slightly different from the parasitic disease of guiardia, also known as “Beaver Fever”, usually found in northern rivers and lakes.    

One of the cures I learned from Dr. Bob Shaw, the world traveling whitewater kayaking enthusiast from Willow Springs, is a dose of massive, expensive antibiotics and a medicine commonly given to women whom suffer from yeast infections. 

I have also learned that oysters and clams raised in American (not foreign) fish farms are okay. But apparently one wants to avoid the “fresh” ones in the bays and estuaries because of all of the pollutants in our waters nowadays. 

It makes me wonder about frogs and especially crawdads that we occasionally grab for a delicious meal here in the Ozarks.

I do know this one thing about Hunter Creek. I don’t mean to demean any hard-working dairy farmers, but since the last dairy disappeared from the banks of Hunter Creek 15 years ago, the visible water quality of our beautiful clear stream looks and feels better than ever since I have resided on Hunter Creek for almost 30 years.       

Now, get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozarks outdoors!