Writing around the campfire is a lot like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it out to sea. Maybe it finds an audience, maybe not. | Our hosts | Our venues | Our topics

Note to Self
A How To Guide

Why write a letter to yourself?

For one you can save on the stamp.

Most importantly, it’s good practice for writing to a friend. Alternately, you could write the practice letter to your friend and send a follow-up second version, but this time with different information, to another friend. Granted, that’s probably a second letter. But you get my point. Just like an appetite comes with eating, writing begets more writing and before you know it you have a pencil that’s worn down to a nub. Unless you’re using a pen, then it’ll eventually run out of ink. “There’s a lot of ink in that well,” as they say. Actually no one says that. But you know what I mean.

8th deadly sin
And why it's just the tip of the iceberg

Could there be …

An eighth deadly sin?

Or even more than that?

We all know the first seven well enough. Greed, envy, pride, lust, gluttony, sloth and wrath. And we all know how they are glamorized each in their own way. Greed is good. Why do today when you can put it off until tomorrow. Revenge is a dish best served cold. FOMA — fear of missing out — may well be envy’s rally cry. Gluttony is good (okay, that’s not a saying). And stubborn pride. As for the eighth? There’s actually a long list of contenders: ignorance, herd conformity (a form of ignorance), toxic insecurity, lying, turning a blind eye, the list goes on. The truth is, as society has become more complex, there are more and more sins that can trip us up, if not in the moment than in the long run. How about rudeness, impatience, and there are probably others, too. The only way to get to uncover them all is around a campfire. I’m not sure the original seven aren’t relatively benign compared to some of the new ones we can come up with.

Steephead Valleys
And why they are "spring like"

Steephead valleys aren’t as famous …

Or as charismatic as a Florida spring.

Steephead valleys have a distinctive rounded shape

But they are similar in they are both groundwater fed. Unlike springs that appear in full force out of nowhere, emerging from a cavernous hold in the ground in the form of a “boil,” steephead streams are smaller in scale and at their upstream end pinch back to a vanishing point. And unlike a gully-eroded dendritic (i.e. branching) stream channel that depends on rainwater for its source, and accordingly erodes from top-to-bottom — a steephead valley contains a single stream that depends on groundwater seepage as its source. Grain by grain, that causes erosion to occur from the bottom-up, giving the ravines their trademark rounded and slumping shape. Another key difference: The gradient between its headwater and mouth are low.

What makes steepheads special? The steady flow and constant (cooler) temperature makes both the ravines and the streams home to endemic and rare northern plants. An endangered fish called the Okaloosa darter is only found in steephead streams. As for their location, they are found in isolated patches in the panhandle where the regional groundwater table and alluvial floodplain intercept.