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A young Karen Chadwick at Silver Springs

Karen Chadwick, Silver Springs

I was born in Sarasota Florida in 1959. My Grandmother took care of my sister and I a lot when we were children and we spent many days playing on the beautiful white sand beaches and fishing on the local piers. I often ventured off by myself to explore the woods, creeks, and mudflats in the bay.

One of my favorite places to explore was a big drainage ditch that ran through my Grandmother’s neighborhood. Storm water runoff would sometimes pour down the length of the ditch forming deep rushing rapids then enter a large pipe that ran under the town and out to Sarasota Bay. I was fascinated by the amount of wildlife that lived in that tree lined ditch below the view of the adults. The neat houses with trimmed yards were a barren void, comparatively. Small mammals, insects, worms and birds and the occasional snake carried on with the business of life. Sometimes, between thunderstorms little fish swam in the trickle of the stream and I worried about what would happen to them when the rains came and washed them away.

The power of the raging storm water carved out rocks and roots from the sloping sides and delivered treasures my Mother unceremoniously called “trash”. Sometimes after a storm we challenged the force of our “river” by getting in the water and letting it carry us down stream toward the pipe. We would grab exposed tree roots and pull ourselves out to safety before we got too close to the opening. Whoever got the closest to the dark black hole won this dangerous game of “chicken”. I was not allowed to go to the ditch but the place was irresistible to me.

Wonder at Silver Springs, 2013 Photo by Karen Chadwick

Wonder at Silver Springs, 2013
Photo by Karen Chadwick

Throughout my childhood I always remembered the first time I saw Silver Springs. As a child I rode the quiet glass bottom boat and the vision of the sparkling clear blue water roiling up from gapes in the rocks, fish swirling around in the current and shorelines dotted with birds and alligators seemed to me, a grand example of animals, water, plant life and humans living in harmony. Even though the health and vitality of Silver Springs and Silver River are not what they used to be, newcomers are still amazed by this spring.

About eight years ago I got my captain’s license so I could take people on “paying tours”. Sometimes I get paid and sometimes I don’t. Either way my true reward is to see the excitement and sense of wonder on people’s faces when they see Silver Springs, the first time for themselves. No matter what the person’s age is the journey always evokes a sense of admiration. I recently took this 6 year old boy’s family on a tour of Silver River. The look on his face as he gazed down into the depths was certainly the look of wonder.

Click on this website to learn more about Karen’s charter business. www.northstarcharters.net