Monday, March 30, 2015

Short Ride Through Big Sugar

If you're using sugar with your breakfast this morning, I'm pretty sure I saw its homeplace yesterday.

My spouse's brother came over wanting to ride to Lake Okeechobee, so off we went, after putting gas in the motorcycles.  It was a little chilly and a little windy for a ride, but we didn't let that deter us.

Once we got on U.S. 27, we drove up through the nation's sugar cane fields.  It's a river of grass, but a different river of grass than the Everglades, which were drained for a variety of purposes, one of them being agriculture.

Once we got to one of the southernmost parts of the lake, we pulled over to a park by a campground.  I thought it might have a map or a ranger of some kind, but it was really a community center, where people were having a party but smiled at us anyway.  There was also an old railroad workers' cottage which had recently been restored.

We thought about riding all the way around the lake, but my brother-in-law said, "It is 117 miles.  What time is it?"

I said, "4:18."  We decided we really didn't have enough time.

We rode up to Clewiston, which was 12 miles away, just to see if we could find an interesting place to eat.  We did, but it wasn't interesting in the way I'd hoped.

It was a Chinese buffet, and the people running the place did look authentically Asian.  We were the only ones of North European descent.  The majority of people eating there spoke Spanish, and I know that the area around the lake has plenty of migrant workers.  A few African-Americans came through too.  The food was O.K.

We got back on the bikes and headed south towards home.  I thought about all of those people who say that manufacturing has left our country, but I saw plenty of factories at work, belching smoke and producing sugar.  There was also a quarry.

I thought about the black dirt--how much richer than our sandy soil!  How strange to be jealous of the dirt of neighboring counties.  I have a sense that we could spend the rest of our lives composting and still not have good soil.

I remembered the ride up to the lake as being more scenic, but in many ways, it was not nearly as interesting as our last 2 weeks of rides.  But I guess that monoculture never is.

Interesting to have driven through the Everglades last Sunday, and yesterday to ride through the area that early industrialists vanquished the swamp to create.  The original is much more interesting--and much more important than any of those early colonizers of the Florida inland could have imagined.

And of course, I imagine that in 100-200 years it will all be part of the Atlantic Ocean.

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