Riding my bicycle to Myers Park as a boy was always fun. I'd explore the wild creek that emerges from seepage and small springs and wonder how a place like this could be so wild only a half mile from Florida's capitol building. The leafy canopy would become increasingly dense as I worked my way downstream and ducked beneath branches and vines, hopping from sand bank to sand bank at first and then just sloshing through the stream. Eventually, the jungle became impenetrable.
On the sandy bottom, I'd find smooth pieces of Indian pottery and wonder how many generations of Apalachee Indians came here to drink, obtain water, and wash. The Apalachee capital of Anhaica once stood nearby, more than 200 waddle and daub (wood and mud) dwellings. And so did Hernando DeSoto's 1539-1540 winter encampment where North America's first Christmas observance was likely held. But I didn't know this at the time. I only marveled at the span of history the pottery fragments represented.
I recently visited Myers Park again. I admired the old-growth trees that dot the park and appreciated those benefactors who had planted saplings to memorialize loved ones who have passed. Those young trees will eventually shade future generations of park visitors and serve as roosts for countless hawks, owls and songbirds.
Traffic noise from nearby Apalachee Parkway faded as I descended a steep embankment to the creek. I peered down the leafy corridor. Like an old friend that changes little, clear water flowed like I remembered. Damselflies landed on feathery ferns, their fluttering wings like tiny strobes in dappled light, and fresh raccoon tracks marked the sand embankment.
I ran my hands along the creek bottom and immediately found a smooth shard of Apalachee pottery. Turning it over in my hands, a sense of childhood wonderment returned. What did the original vessel look like? Who made it and who used it? How did it end up here?
I returned the shard to the creek bottom for others to discover.
We have a legacy of history and natural beauty we are passing down in the form of our parks. In all, Leon County manages 2,800 acres of park land and the City of Tallahassee maintains 55 parks, many of which are in a natural state. While some have protested the monetary expense at the time of purchase, who has ever regretted the original investment years later? Our parks continually reap benefits in terms of quality of life. Simply put, they help define our community, and we are all better for it.