Getting the flavor of...
Florida’s freshwater springs
Tourists come to Florida for the beaches, but the state is also home to possibly the world’s highest concentration of freshwater springs, said Susanne Masters in TheGuardian.com. Of Florida’s 900 or so springs, roughly 100 produce streams substantial enough to swim in, and though those spots are crowded with locals all summer, they’re nearly deserted in winter, when room-temperature air is the norm. In January, I spent a weekend exploring springs between Orlando and Lake City, camping in state parks and consulting Melissa Watson’s Touring the Springs of Florida. At the Ichetucknee headspring, red flowers bobbed in water so clear it was impossible to judge the depth. At Juniper Springs, I canoed past alligators on a creek where swimming is prohibited, and at Manatee Springs State Park, I watched sea cows grazing on eelgrass. At Ginnie Springs, an “eye-catching” turquoise pool lured me in; the water “teemed with fish and turtles.”
Tubman’s path to freedom
Harriet Tubman’s life too easily blends into myth, said Ron Stodghill in The New York Times. Hoping to better understand the woman who guided dozens of fugitive slaves to freedom before she became a Union Army scout and spy, I recently followed a 125-mile self-guided tour of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. My trip nearly coincided with this month’s opening, in Church Creek, of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. The center anchors a string of 36 sites spread along the Eastern Shore’s “serene” countryside, including the Edward Brodess farm, where Tubman was born into slavery. Along my way, I stopped at the Bucktown Village Store, a simple 19th-century building where Tubman once stood up to a slave overseer and wound up suffering a fractured skull. Tubman experienced seizures the rest of her life, but some historians think the injury also explains the divine visions that inspired her heroism. ■