We leave the world of water and islands behind. It is 24,000 years ago and North America is capped with ice. That ice was drawn out of the oceans, lowering sea levels world-wide.
Late Pleistocene Epoch.
Huge ice sheets covered most of Canada and spread southward into the northern United States. Wide lakes formed in the west and Florida grew to over twice it’s size. Water sources in the interior of this state dried up. The Florida scrub spread across the landscape in a thorny tangle. The few rivers which still ran were edged in forest. An amazing variety of animals began to arrive along their banks. At night, in the moon’s glow, Chuck-will’s-widows sang their lonely song from a perch high in a dead pine. Below them, jaguars haunted the inky wilderness shadows.
Hermann Trappman says,
“All over Florida the fossil evidence of this story remains. When I was a kid, I hunted that story. I remember searching the end of the southern most island supporting the Skyway bridge on Tampa Bay. The rippling, cool, bay waters reflected the blue sky all the way to the shores of distant keys and the surrounding coast. A comfortable breeze rattled the fronds of a cabbage palm. Through the crystal-green water I spotted a stony lump about as large as a baby’s fist.” — Hermann Trappman
The great dense forests are far out along the coast. Here, in the heart of Florida, the forest borders the river. By the end of summer, and early autumn, the river is a trickle around and beneath the slabs of limestone rocks on the bottom of the bed. During some very dry years, it dries up completely. Mammoths and mastodons wander along its course trying to find pools that still hold a little water. The critters that hang around all year long, know about the sinkhole at Lake Maggiore and out between Fort de Soto and Egmont Key. Of course there are some fairly large lakes to the northeast as well. But, at the end of the season, the lakes are small and the predators haunt their margins looking for an easy meal.