A bike ride to a secret spot off South Milledge reveals a neon patch of orange on the forest floor. Click here for a simple and delicious recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Amidst kudzu and trumpet creeper, a doe stands sentry high above the North Oconee Greenway on a Sunday afternoon.
A weekend road trip and bike ride around Montgomery triggers an unrelenting lump in the throat.
The latest section of greenway spits cyclists out near Lexington Road. A short ride west under Loop 10 leads to the now-vacant homeless camp called Tent City, which sits on one of many recently clear cut and mulched embankments around town. Hike up to the top of the hill, past a handful of abandoned huts and peek under the overpass for an incredible view of kudzu blanketing a stretch of buried railroad.
On the morning of the last day of school, one of my students pulled me aside and discreetly mentioned, “This weekend we’re moving to a place called The Salvation Army.” I explained where it’s located and talked it up as a place where they’ll be well-taken care of until they have to move again (a familiar ritual). After our conversation, I wondered how the residents of a local homeless camp were faring given recent destruction of woodland habitats, and recalled my first visit to Tent City.
I drove across town to join a small hodgepodge of volunteers from Athens and Atlanta in a Lowes parking lot on the morning of January 6th, 2008. The meeting was organized by an Atlanta-based nonprofit called The Mad Housers. We drove two miles west to Tent City on Lexington Road, a homeless camp tucked into the woods along a stretch of Loop 10.
Wielding tools and panels constructed the day before, we hiked up a shady trail dotted with tents and rudimentary lean-tos in varying states of disrepair. It was hard to discern which were occupied and which ones were abandoned. Once the path leveled a bit, a gentle war veteran named Radar greeted us with firm handshakes. He was the reason for our visit.
Radar and the rest of our crew spent the next few hours chatting while building his new home, the now-vacant hut pictured above.
The Mad Housers returned to Tent City and built more homes over the years. Radar passed away, then a woman named Sissy shared the hut with her ailing mother.
Now everyone is gone. Crews contracted by the Georgia Department of Transportation are in the process of felling trees and clearing undergrowth alongside major roadways. According to a piece on the WUGA website, the project “pushed back the tree line to reduce shadows on the road and ensure falling trees wouldn’t disrupt traffic in storms.”
Whether it’s a mom unable to pay rent and utilities, a chipmunk or garter snake seeking refuge from predators, or military veterans and the mentally ill seeking shelter, the DOT has disrupted more than a few fallen trees and shadows on the road ever could.
A bicycle tour south through Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key begins with great egrets, brown pelicans and an opportunistic gull.
After grooming atop a pole, an agile resident settles into a standing split.
Vying for scraps, a laughing gull plops down on a pelican’s back as it dives for mullet.
Next is a ride through the Robinson Preserve.
Stretches of paved path yield to elevated sections winding through mangrove forest.
Hidden breaks in the forest lead to amazing vistas of the bay.
A flock of white pelicans slowly bobs up and down until one notices a school of fish.
An awkward orange, black and white ruckus erupts. The collective briefly takes flight.
Crashing down onto one another, the frenzy lasts maybe a minute (but it doesn’t appear that many catch a snack).
Compared to Robinson, Perico Preserve is a smaller and younger restoration project. Bikes are restricted to a small loop, but the route includes curious flora and fauna, including fallen trees and sharp turns.
Drivers and cyclists on Manatee Avenue are forced to take in the view as a yacht lumbers through the drawbridge over Anna Maria Sound.
More avian natives eye tourists from a weathered jetty on Coquina Beach.
Taking such subjective advice in Florida (and across the US) is hard these days.
A dune daisy blooms below one of many towering resorts occupying Longboat Key.
The day’s ride begins and ends on Palma Sola Bay.
How many photos of a place are too many?
A flurry of cottonwood seeds occupy an entrance to the North Oconee River Greenway.
Weekend psychogeography leads to Watson Mill State Park’s Holly Tree Trail, and the ruins of a hydroelectric dam and power house built in 1907.
Eko Suparman took this beautiful photo in a Muslim cemetery in Borneo. The shot is featured on the cover of the May/June issue of Orion Magazine. Click here to read an interview with the photographer, or here to see photos of local Mandidae neighbors who have visited our small garden here in Athens.
So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow (with this soil).
Author Matt Hern is the founder of The Purple Thistle Centre in Vancouver, Canada. According to his website, “We run a 2500 sq/ft resource centre that has a ton of supplies, tools, materials, classes and workshops, and its all free. There’s a library, bike fixing shop, computer lab, silkscreening room, animation facility and lots else. And maybe best of all, the whole thing is run by a youth collective that controls all the day-to-day operations and really runs the place.” Matt’s latest guidebook for teens is Stay Solid!
Under glazed hazel, fibrous tissue tugs, fixing eyes to matching four inch screens. Father and son synchronize strides along the cement path. Colorless injection molded earbuds drown cardinal song, eddies whispering rivulet secrets, and eighteen wheelers thumping down the concrete and steel bypass twenty feet above. Stopping, the boy slaps dad on the shoulder, points, then shouts, “Listen!” The irony of exclamation from self-induced deafness is lost when curiosity focuses on two syllables yanking son and father from oblivion for a few minutes.