Another for my mother (12/27/2005) - Three years gone by but your voice echos through my adventures.My father once joked that when archaeologists discover this site in the future they'll theorize that an ancient race of tiny people lived and thrived here. In fact, the ground beneath my feet today was the site of my childhood home and the Florida Monkey Sanctuary until 1988. Many monkeys found refuge here. More were born here and some were buried here. When my mother sold the property 20 years ago, many of the monkey cages were torn down. I returned in 1993 to see what had become of the place. An older man had moved in with his even older mother and I was content to know that the land was well taken care of. Flash forward to 12/27/2008 and today's visit. The house has been torn down and burned due to termites. The owner long since gone. The land is now used as a horse ranch. The neighbor's yard is less than welcoming. I don't test the dog or my speed. But we have permission to walk our old property. Beautiful old oaks cast their branches out over sandy soil. Margaret, a Clydesdale and my first horse (and the first word I ever spoke - Mah-gwet!) is buried here.What appears as a ditch is a dried up moat that encircled two islands. Peter's Island (named for my grandfather) was inhabited by squirrel monkeys in the 70's until a Florida Panther swam across and taught her kittens how to hunt. The bridge was built by my dad and me when I was 13. The next owner built the handrails, but our bridge to nowhere actually went somewhere. As a kid the island was completely forested and seemed to be a dense impenetrable jungle that I would always try to explore.Spread across the 10 acres were several corn cribs that functioned as housing for several hundred primates over the course of 20 years. On past explorations I had discovered little remains of the Sanctuary but I forged further into the "creepy" corner of the property and found three round concrete slabs that once were the foundations for the corn cribs. A shallow pool remains. My sister Tiffany called it creepy and I think she was referring to the NW corner. The NE corner was always creepy to me and I would run as fast as I could - from what I don't know.
As I explored further I instantly recognized the distinct aqua blue color of the swimming pool that once belonged to a troop of Weeper Capuchins. On rare occasions I would have the good fortune of hosing out the cages. The pool was always the toughest to clean. It was a task normally relegated to my mother or father. I must confess that while hosing the cages, certain monkeys would come down and shake the cage. I don't know if they were tainting me or playing, but I would spray them. They looked peeved but they always returned. I tell myself they were having fun. An orange tree grows at the edge of a concrete slab. No doubt the consequence of a discarded seed or two. The monkeys and apes were fed Monkey Chow as well as grapes, apples and oranges that my family prepared for them. (Marshmallows were always a vice of several sugar-loving simians). Today the ancient ruins from the 70's are lightly covered by tropical vegetation. Water pipes remain buried beneath leaves and soil. Bones of long past primates rest just beneath the surface. To the casual observer, all of these subtle clues might be dismissed. To me, they are my Machu Pichu. Relics of my childhood that echo a memory of my mother.