There are good and bad things about our new location. Lake Baldwin is good. It is one of the few Orlando lakes whose shores have not been commandeered by the elegant houses of the rich and privileged. We can escape the heat and noise of our new box to join the dog walkers, joggers, the many “boggers” ( joggers with babies) and cyclists of all ages and abilities, to make a circuit or two around the 2 mile path. On one side of the path are the houses and on the other is the lake, bordered by a strip of land which has been allowed to revert to its unruly origins and is now a protected natural environment.
As an ecosystem, an abandoned military base generally has no place to go but up. So it was at the Orlando NTC. Part of the redevelopment of the site has been reestablishing the original ecology. The developers worked with Florida Audubon to recreate the natural habitat of the area, reintroducing native grasses and other species.
The developers decided to preserve the shoreline around the community’s two lakes as parkland, instead of selling it as waterfront property, and to focus on passive recreation around the lakes, so that people are not “pestered with jet-skis,”
from Hometown: Baldwin Park, Orlando, By Ruth Walker here.
Cycling into an ever changing head wind round the lake is not really my idea of “passive recreation” but the anhinghas, ospreys and herons may fish and swim with not much more than a rowing boat or an enthusiastic Labrador to disturb them.
The development of Baldwin Park sprung phoenix-like from the old Orlando Naval Training Centre whose four gate posts still stand. I am not sure what part the lake played in the training or what naval manoeuvres may have been practiced there as there seems barely enough room for one warship never mind a submarine as well. But anyway, Baldwin Park has left its military memories behind, turning away from the drill and discipline to slip into the new life of an easy and relaxed residential suburb.
There is a lovely doggy park on the lake which must be a perfect piece of dog heaven, complete with trees, water and other dogs. A place where canines can frolic together in and out of the water, watched by happy and relaxed owners and, occasionally by this dog lorne person who often pines for a furry companion. I would imagine that the word “fleetpeeplespark” causes much ecstatic tail wagging in the homes of local dogs.
The strip of eco wilderness which borders the lake has some wonderful old trees, twisted oaks and tall pines. They grow in amongst a muddle of creepers and vines and seem incongruous, as only yards away are the rows of neat obedient little crepe myrtles which line the paths of orderly Baldwin Park.
These untidy old trees with their untrimmed branches just act as a reminder of the disorder of nature in the raw and amongst them is one particular tree that has escaped from an Hieronymus Bosch painting. This is a real little monster of a tree, a two fingered salute to the neatness all around it, a little bit of a nightmare creeping into the suburbs, unremarked. I had to draw it.
From its reptilian snout, sprout three main limbs which spiral up and up to eventually clear the surrounding oaks. Its “mouth” seems to be eating smaller twigs, while the hole left by a lost branch keeps an eye on you.
I took a small sketch book and a pen, and made couple of sketches.
Then the next day another more accurate drawing.
Sketch book page 8 x 10”
And then this watercolour sketch.
Sketch book page 12” x 9”, watercolour.
I am sure it is a Sweetbay Magnolia (or even the lesser know fish tree :)….) Possibly it looks endearing but this may be its ancestor……
Bosch’s trees are not quite so benign, but this odd little tree is a very good subject for an illustrator like me and I will no doubt be drawing it again. It’s a natural for etching, a medium new to me but proving to be fascinating and frustrating.. as all art is!