I am writing to you from Pollywog Point… well, it is five minutes walk from here, but close enough, and I love to say it…Pollywog Point. It evokes all kinds of vague images from childhood, catching tadpoles and toads and skipping rocks in Poplar Creek in Ohio. But Pollywog Point is in Florida. It is the area in which my father-in-law lives and so we stay here with he and his partner when we visit. The houses are built on a manmade ridge created of the diggings from the nearby creek that empties into the river. Were it not sandy soil it would be bog.
It is a peaceful part of the world where the neighbourhood’s self-appointed serveillance guard always checks me out when I take my first morning walk each visit. He’s funny because he always acts as if he thinks I’m someone he sort of knows by asking ‘Are you Margy Dollywoop?’, or whatever name he pulls out. He has beady eyes and a pinched mouth that look like he means business if you don’t give the right answer. But each time when I say I am so-and-so’s daughter-in-law, he says ‘Oh, ok. Thank you.’ and his facial features brighten. Very funny really, but I guess it gives him some sense of wellbeing to patrol the neighbourhood strangers… and especially ones taking photographs! The in-laws tell me he is a very nice guy, so I’ll take their word.
In Alice Springs we are used to tourists and all kinds of people hiking around the neighbourhood, cameras at the ready, but I can appreciate that at Pollywog Point, this may not be the case! One time we even had a visiting Chinese couple who seemed to not speak a word of English. They decided our patio, looking toward the golf course, and Mt Gillen were of interest. Down the breezeway they sauntered and out onto the point of the patio to survey the area, chattering and pointing amongst themselves. I don’t think it occurred to them they were in someone’s yard. Certainly the kangaroo that pass through the breezeway are un-phased by this fact! (Below see the point of the patio leading to the view of Mt Gillen. In the centre of the photo below that you can see the breezeway opening that runs between the house and the studio, through which Chinese and Kangorese alike may travel!)
I tried to photograph Pollywog Point’s resident white egret but it was a bit shy, so you’ll have to imagine it wading along the small sandbar on the left side of the creek, alternating fishing with digesting its catch. The brilliant white of its feathers shows starkly against the lush tropical foliage.
The Spanish moss is plentiful in the trees here. It is beautiful, but will eventually kill the host tree. Once it has taken hold, there is almost nothing you can do to keep it from growing so probably best to just enjoy it. There is also a vine that is positively prolific and has covered every tree trunk and even low palm trees in it’s path. Don and I decided anything so enthusiastic must undoubtedly be a noxious weed! Sure enough, we found it is an introduced species from South America, called Kudzu. Diabolical stuff, just shuts off all the light to other plants and trees and takes over entire areas. It was introduced in Georgia, I am told, to grow quickly and thickly, in areas of road building and where embankments were difficult to stabilise. Like many introduced species it is now a pest, but very photogenic.
Only twenty four hours before we arrived in this tropical place we had been in the highlands of Scotland and we couldn’t help but draw comparisons. This part of Florida, indeed most of Florida, is very flat, the houses are ranch style, mostly single level dwellings, separated by generous gardens and lawns when compared to many other countries. It is a hard thing to get one’s head around, travel from one lifestyle to another, not quite a parallel universe, but parallel realities certainly. My head is bouncing between Alice and Scotland, Florida and Ohio none of it seeming real and all of it part of my reality.
But here I am in Pollywog Point. To some it is a little piece of paradise, no doubt. But a little bit of me is longing for the red dirt and mountains of Central Australia, and I am already focusing on our next stop, Ohio, where I will wrap my arms around my beloved Mother again.