I’m revisiting my post from a couple of months ago about Umatilla. Why? Well because I was told this morning by a realtor that “Umatilla is not a secret anymore” I thought to myself, “Was it a secret before?” I don’t think so but it seems that our little city is becoming more appealing to the new comers in this area, and they are coming this way.
I’ve grown up here and have always known this place was unique and wonderful! We are a mere 6 miles north of “The Golden Triangle”, yet we are a world away. And that’s fine with me.
Umatilla is a rural community. What we don’t have sets us apart, I think. We don’t have a Walmart or any other big box store. Yes, one stop shopping is convenient, but you can find most everything you need right here without ever leaving “town”. What we do have is very near and dear to me personally, The forest!
We are a gateway city to The Ocala National forest, The Florida Trail and The Black Bear Scenic Byway. All these are great recreational opportunities. You can hit the byway in your car and stop off for a visit to Alexander Springs, camp, hike, swim or just sit and drink in all the beauty of the place. It is not too far off the beaten path and for the nature lover it is a wonderful place to visit or stay for a while. Pitch your tent and relax!
Not too far from the entrance to Alexander is the Florida Trail this is a wonderful trail to hike. I’ve hiked on it a little but want to experience more in my very near future. The trail winds through some of the most beautiful parts of Florida and I hope to see it soon.
The forest holds so many treasures, along with it’s hiking, camping, springs and endless recreation areas it is home to so many species of wildlife. One of my favorites is the Florida Black Bear. Our area has one of the highest populations of black bears in Florida, if you live around here you already know this. Being bear aware should be part of your daily life, making sure your trash is secured, keeping your bird feeders in at night and bringing in any pet food that may be too tempting for the bears. All these little things can help you live happily in the same area as these sweet creatures. They get fussed about a lot but most of the fussin’ could be solved if these small lessons were learned.
Another one of my favorites is the Scrub Jay. The Florida scrub jay is found only in Florida scrub habitat. The scrub habitat is unique in itself . It is a harsh environment that is dry and super sandy and prone to wildfires. But those wildfires actually help form the scrub jay habitat, the low growing landscape suits them just fine. These birds are a threatened species and should not be hand fed by humans. They are a social and curious bird and will eat out of your hand. This is not good for them. It causes them to nest too early and the fledglings can’t survive, so please resist the temptation.
The forest holds many secrets with it’s tall whispering trees and long winding rivers and streams. They hold memories of days gone by, of settlements that are no more, homesteads that have crumbled out of existence over the years. They have seen many changes and will see many more. As for me, I’ll keep on loving my little hometown. Watching the folks speed past the front window of my little flower shop.