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Today hundreds of thousands enjoy the river every year. We are a different breed. When I take our children or my students to the river or walk along its sandy uplands to show them undiscovered and unmapped springs popping out of the ground, they and I are still abiding in a domesticated world that erects a substantial, almost impervious barrier to the wilderness of the river. Nevertheless, that wildness is built unconsciously into our bodies. We are not like the Timucuans, the first humans to come down the St. Johns River and eventually up the Wekiva to the two main springs. They knew they were river people.

For me, gradually, Wekiva has become not just a river, but a state of mind, a habit of place. It doesn’t just belong to the aboriginal river-dwellers who lived largely on snails and mussels, turtles and fish, shopped from the river bed. Wekiva also inhabits those who inhabit it now and who have grown to love and care for it.

So this book is also the story of a small grass roots organization, The Friends of the Wekiva River, Inc. (FOWR). In the last twenty years of the twentieth century they have helped secure a lasting legacy of the river for generations to come. After more than a century of human degradation of the earth, Wekiva is probably the best story in the east of how we can help preserve and restore a watershed and its ecosystems. It might take another century. Nature has enormous powers of self healing and all we have to do is give it half a chance.

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