Field Trip: Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve


Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

There was a time, not too long ago, when this part of South Florida — east of the Everglades and west of the Coast — was nothing but white sand, scrub vegetation, saw palmettos, and sand pines. Development and expansion, with all of its blacktop and gated communities and non-native plants, soon overran the place.

Fortunately, the city of Oakland Park thought to preserve this slice of Florida’s natural history with the Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve, a pristine 5.6-acre site nestled between two lakes. This location, in addition to the abundance of native plants, means the park is home to countless birds, anole lizards, and even gopher tortoises, an endangered species.  It’s also a place where the community can come together — volunteers are responsible for the preserve’s upkeep.

I arrived at the preserve after a brief morning shower. As I stepped from my car, I was struck by the silence and solitude in a place that is literally just down the street and over the fence from the trappings of the modern world.

Clouds

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

I began my self-guided tour on the paved walkway and found myself lost in my thoughts. At first, I thought of “Gilligan’s Island” and “Lost” — and then I became aware of the subtle sounds. Below, anoles scurried under the brush, a bouncing leaf the only hint that I had disturbed them from their resting place. Above, birds — blue jays, I think — squawked across the sky, warning one another that an intruder had arrived.

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana.

American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana.

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

By now, the paved walkway gave way to a white sand path that looked as if it had been dusted with snow — and my imaginings of television shows were left behind. Instead, I began to think of the early native Americans and European explorers who wandered through this landscape and carved out an existence without mosquito repellent or air conditioning.

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

The deeper I walked, the more I noticed — particularly the beauty of mosses and lichens and decay.

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

A bromeliad, an air plant, has a home in the branches of a decaying tree.

A bromeliad, an air plant, has a home in the branches of a decaying tree.

All too soon, the path brought me closer to the fence along the preserve’s border. Just on the other side of the lake, I could see houses and I could hear the faintest sound of traffic. I so badly wanted the path to bring me back into Florida’s past.

The view from the fence.

The view from the fence.

A cactus bloom on the way to the parking lot.

A cactus bloom on the way to the parking lot.

It was time to return home, though, back to the 21st-century world — but how comforting to know that the past is but a short drive away.

26 thoughts on “Field Trip: Lakeside Sand Pine Preserve

  1. Gilligan’s Island! Too funny. Maybe we all need to get lost on an island so we can learn more about nature..haha Or at least we could go look for our “Ginger” or “Professor!”

    • Hi Aunt Pat. A little late in catching up on comments — but, yes, it was a feast for the senses. I’m looking forward to seeing it in various seasons.

    • Hi Terressa. It’s great that you used the word delicate — because there are a lot of concerns about invasive species that thrive in the warm climate.

    • Hi Gwennie. I’m doing well, but I’m a little lazy in responding to the comments. So it’s a game of catch-up. Your garden looks amazing and I loved your fig solution. Well done!

  2. So glad you enjoyed your little getaway…..I love that little “gem” in the middle of Oakland Park …it always amazes me that it can exist there surrounded by all the urban sprawl. I find myself torn between wanting everyone to go visit and enjoy native FL at its best and wanting to keep the secret! I’m betting that you’ll want to help with our next cleanup! Your pictures, BTW our just gorgeous!!!!

    • Hi Donna. Very different and at the same time — similar. There is a peace there, a solitude, a natural beauty. In the end, the same result as a walk in a New England wood.

    • Hi Bittster. Funny that you mentioned air conditioning. A local newspaper columnist here recently wrote that he lives in a house without air conditioning. The coolness comes from the eaves, the shades, the tree canopy, and fans — just like it used to be. That being said, I’ll take the air conditioning. 🙂

  3. Your photography is so good I feel like I can really enter in to the feeling that comes from visiting the Sand Pine Preserve. The water droplets really are something special, Kevin, not to mention the beauty of the lichen. What a beautiful preserve! I love these hidden gems and always marvel at how they exist within the proximity of what can at times appear to be not much more than chaos. This is a wonderful place to visit and I hope you will make it a home away from home!

    • Hi Debra. I’m looking forward to catching the Preserve in different seasons — just to see what’s blooming, what’s changed. The lichen was a real treat to find. At first, I thought it was some foam bubbling up from the earth. It was when I got closer that I could see what it truly was. Making it more delicate was that I could only find it in one small area of the Preserve. Be well!

    • Hey Benjamin. Thanks for the laugh. Actually, the lichens were a great surprise. I could only find them in one small area of the Preserve. Thanks for commenting.

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