Saturday, January 29, 2011

w000000t! (Knees & Kidneys...and Fort Pickens)

Rolled out of bed this morning afternoon and was able to walk around without the crutch--no foot pain, no knee pain--for the first time in almost 2 weeks.

Maybe now I can get back to getting ready for a ride down to Fort Pickens. I had it all planned out. The Tuesday before my knee went out was going to be the warmest we've seen in a few weeks, the winds calm. I haven't been to "my fort" in more than a year. I've been wanting to go somewhere--anywhere--to get out of this damn house after being stuck indoors for 6 months.

I doubt I'll be able to walk the entire thing in a single lap, but there are plenty of places in a fort to sit or lean, plenty of new details to see, or old ones to see again. The brickwork in the old fort is amazing, especially once you stop to consider that everything was done by hand--and more poignant when you realize that a black slave worked with a file to shape a specific brick to fit a specific place. When you touch one, you're touching the work of a man who didn't own his own life. It's a chilling thought, yes, but it reminds me of how far we've come since 1834, when the fort was completed. Now we have a black president. How cool is that?

My favorite thought about Pickens, though, is that it was never in Rebel hands during the Civil War. It was built to protect the channel between the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay, one of four forts guarding the channel and Pensacola Harbor and the Navy shipyard. When the Rebels turned traitor in 1861, they took the other three--Forts McRee, Barrancas, and a small work called the Advanced Redoubt. But they couldn't get to Pickens in the sort of numbers that would have let them take the fort. They lacked the ships, they lacked the troops, and because of Pickens sitting right at the entrance to the bay, they couldn't use the shipyard or harbor to support or supply their efforts elsewhere.

A few hundred men in one fort held off thousands and thwarted the Rebels. I like that.

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