Some treasures are hidden, but some treasures are in plain sight, just waiting for you and me to discover them! Let’s discover some treasures in the White Springs area.

Ahhh! These cooler mornings are a “treasure”, and I see more people out enjoying the great outdoors. Hunters, ever hopeful, are bringing home treasures, even when they never see whatever game they might be hunting. Treasures such as memories of seeing the first light of day, and the hearing the sound of birdsongs punctuating the fading, pre-daybreak silence of the woods. The sounds and sights of the forests are an ample reward for the small effort it takes to go there and, with that in mind, over the years I have been hiking and biking in the woods on some of the tracts where hunting is not allowed. Every trip I bag a trophy sight or sound and these moments and the remembrance of them evoke a feeling that is the exact opposite of stress. A few years back, to really experience the wilderness, Merri and I took an unguided day trip with some friends canoeing in the Okeefenokee swamp. The land of the trembling earth did not disappoint and we came home with another trophy, the remembrance of a great adventure outdoors with good friends. Get outdoors! There are treasures there and good medicine for the body and the soul.

Short notice on two treasure discoveries happening on Thursday, Oct. 31! First, I know that different folks have different opinions about Halloween, and that is fine, but when I was a kid, adults made sure that we had plenty of good, safe fun, got plenty of sweet treasures (treats) and that we got the daylights scared out of us once or twice too, and we loved it. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

The second treasure to discover on Thursday is this. “Folk culture... it is the boiled-down pot likker of common life... the joys and sorrows of the group... the hard-earned lessons of living... handed down from generation to generation in highly distilled and palatable form.” So said the old WPA folklorist Stetson Kennedy. Our Folk culture is a bag of treasures! In Florida that includes fiddlers and whittlers, patch quilters and stone crabbers, cakewalkers and cloggers, cigar makers and shape note singers, mule farmers and mullet fishermen. Here in White Springs, we celebrate our rural folk culture traditions at this time every year during the wonderful “Rural Folklife Days” event, which takes place at the Stephen Foster Park this Thursday, Oct. 31, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs. Demonstrators will be on hand displaying Florida traditions of yesterday and today during this event. Rural Folklife Day celebrates the region's rural past with demonstrations and hands-on learning activities. Visitors can taste and buy jellies and peanut brittle, play traditional games, churn butter, sing songs, square dance, quilt on a frame, taste sugar cane, assist a blacksmith, learn about lye soap, watch demonstrations of old-fashioned cane grinding and learn to fish! This event is a long-standing tradition at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.

Clean streets are a treasure! Amidst all the ongoing efforts to beautify White Springs a reader voiced a concern. She said her pet peeve was garbage cans left by the curb or in front yards, long after collection day, sometimes all week long. She admitted that at the end of a long day at work, wrestling with a garbage can was not her favorite thing to do but she did it anyhow, not just for herself but for her neighbors too. “After all,” she said, “it’s my yard and my garbage can, but it’s my neighbor’s scenery too, and I want it to look nice for all of us.” That is a generous and refreshing point of view! Thanks neighbor!

Music is a treasure! White Springs is home to the “World’s Largest Tubular Bell Carillon,” and that my friends is a big deal, a very big deal indeed! The Deagan Company produced about 440 tower tube instruments over a span of more than 40 years from 1916 to 1958, and the installation here in White Springs was one of the last. Of the 440 original installations across the world, only about 230 tower chimes survive. Of all the worldwide tubular bell installations done by the Deagan Company, the Stephen Foster Carillon is the biggest, and with 97 bells rightfully holds the title of World’s Largest Tubular Bell Carillon. The deepest note produced is “C” from a tube about 12 feet long and 5 inches in diameter, weighing about 600 pounds. The tubular bells are essentially unaffected by exposure to weather in the belfry. They’ll last nigh-on forever, but the electronics and some of the mechanical aspects are outdated and just plain worn out. The good news is that the carillon can be repaired and even improved. What can you do??? Discover this upcoming treasure of a concert to “Save Our Bells”!

On Sunday, Nov. 10, at 4 p.m., the Stephen Foster Citizen Support Organization (CSO) will be hosting another “Save Our Bells” benefit concert in the park auditorium. The featured act will be Florida’s Troubadours, Bob Patterson, Jim Carrick, Charley Simmons and Larry Mangum. They are extraordinary performers, donating their time and talent for free to restore our treasured carillon. Bob Patterson has earned the title of Florida's premier storyteller and in St. Augustine he is a local living legend, as well as hometown hero. Jim Carrick, a tried and true troubadour, is a master of the fingerstyle guitar. Charley Simmons hits impossible licks on his guitar, influenced by the likes of Gamble Rogers, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Bob Dylan and Dave Mallett. Larry Mangum is a Florida Folk Festival Favorite and he will hit you where you live with the power of his original songwriting and insightful lyrics.

Tickets for this good cause can be purchased from our CSO and will be $20. Limited seating is available so get your tickets early! Please call the park for more details at 386-397-2733.

Insight is a treasure! I thoroughly enjoyed the "New Wine of Cherry Lake" living history presentation given at the White Springs Library last Monday. A full house listened as Norm McDonald took the audience back in time to the Great Depression in North Florida as experienced by people living at the Cherry Lake Industrial Farms in Madison County. After having seen Norm’s presentation, I’ll never view “The Wizard of OZ” from the same perspective again! Turns out that both the movie and the book had subtle political overtones. Hmmm, I wonder who would hide behind the curtains and play at being the great and powerful OZ today? Who today needs courage? Who today needs a heart? A brain? Who of us just wants to find our way home again? Good job Norm, you made us think!

Wisdom is a treasure! We can get wisdom from many places and wisdom from the animal kingdom is an important piece of the wisdom puzzle. At Hearthstone Gardens in nearby Wellborn, this coming Monday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Art & Soul Presents...”Animal Wisdom; Spirituality and creativity come together in the Wisdom of the Bee.” In Part I of the program you’ll explore the spiritual teachings of the bee from the ages and across the globe. Experience the spirit of the bee through a guided meditation, led by Khrys Kantarze, M.A., and certified hypnotherapist. If you wish to participate in part II You’ll create a beautiful bee house through the gentle guidance of artist and craftsman, Sue Ruda. (All supplies provided) The Cost: $20 full program, ($10 part I only). Hearthstone Garden, 3300 134th Pl., Wellborn, Fl. Class size is limited please call 386-234-0846 to reserve your spot.

Well, once again I’ve said enough, perhaps more than enough, but, as always, I do want to remind you that if you have news you want to share, you should let “Life in White Springs” help. We’re always glad to hear about goings on in the community and will be glad to share anything that is appropriate for this column. I am thankful that we can depend on each other, and I hope that we can continue to feel proud of who we are and where we’re headed, and that we all appreciate how White Springs and its surrounding region is a very special place, to be honored and protected. As always, I look forward to seeing you out and about, finding treasures and enjoying your community and your life in White Springs.

Walter McKenzie


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