Grande Dame of Peace River

Old bridge in Peace River Park, Arcadia, FL. Now a pedestrian bridge. Photo by Cheryl Batavia

Grande Dame of Peace River

Classic arches…

time marches…

Soulless and faceless

utilitarian bridge replaces

grande dame’s graces.

Bridges side-by-side,

span Arcadia’s scenic pride,

Peace River, tannin-dyed,

where fierce alligators reside.

Now pedestrians on a lark

linger in Peace River Park

on the bridge, historic landmark,

viewing kayakers in waters dark.

Grande dame retains her spark!


CopyrightΒ© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


This historic bridge over the scenic Peace River in Arcadia, Florida holds fond memories for me. My father used to fish in the Peace River when I was a child, and our family vacationed in Florida. The Peace River flows into the Gulf of Mexico not too far from where we live now. Robert and I have walked along the river at Arcadia a number of times. Last year, my daughters and I took a breathtaking boat tour on the river near Arcadia.

Arcadia is a town that once had a fine train station and an opera house. Many historic buildings are now home to restaurants and antique shops. Mary Margaret’s Tea Room is one of Robert’s and my favorite restaurants located in an historic auto dealership and garage and furnished with antiques.

It is a tradition to go to Mary Margaret’s on my birthday, missed for the last year two years because of the pandemic. The restaurant has changed hands since the pandemic began. We want to visit again after it is over. I hope they still have our favorite crab Louis, quiche Lorraine, turkey sandwiches, flavored tea, and tea biscuits!

I have attempted to paint the old Peace River bridge several times over the last couple of years, but I could never quite capture my feelings for the place. I will try again, and post it if I get it right.

This poem is a Ziggurat, a form created by Paul Szlosek and presented by Eugenia at Eugenia’s Causerie. It consists of 14 lines and 4 stanzas. 2 lines, 2 words each, 3 lines, 3 words each, 4 lines, 4 words each, and 5 lines, 5 words each. The rhyme pattern is aa, bbb, cccc, ddddd. This was a fun form to work with.

Peace River, Arcadia. Photo by Cheryl Batavia
Robert and Cheryl at Mary Margaret’s Tea Room, Arcadia, FL

66 Comments

  1. What a lovely snapshot, Cheryl, of Americana. A peaceful life, fishing, walks along the beautiful river banks, Tea Rooms with Tiffany lamps, and everyday family happiness; quite enchanting, Cheryl.

    Love the poem and the rive is really something special.

    Thank you, Cheryl,

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you so much, Joanna, for sharing your thoughts. ❀ Your kind response is deeply appreciated.

      Arcadia is part of what is referred to as "Old Florida." You drive for an hour or so on country byways with cattle ranches and orange groves to get there. I just love visiting the area. It is my pleasure to write about it.

      All the best! πŸ™‚

      Like

      Reply

    1. Thank you so much, Michel, for your perceptive comment. We love driving through the countryside with the cattle ranches and the citrus groves to get to this once bustling “Old Florida” town. The Opera House is home to antique shops now. Most of the old buildings on that same street are either cafes or antique shops. It’s fun to walk up and down the street seeing unique things for sale in every store window and out on the sidewalks too. I read that the town has a very large new solar farm that generates electricity.

      Hope you and Janine are doing well and enjoying a beautiful spring.
      Love ❀
      Cheryl

      Like

      Reply

  2. You have already painted a very visual picture of peace river and the grand dame, Cheryl – with the loving memories shared by three generations – your father, your daughters and you. If paints and brushes capture how you saw the place change over the years, I would love to see it when you post it.

    The pictures of the river, the grand bridge and Mary Margaret’s tea room are very scenic – you and Robert looked wonderful on your visit before the pandemic and there would be many such beautiful pictures waiting to be taken in future πŸ’–

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    1. Deb, It is my dream to visit there again as soon as the pandemic is gone. I love driving through the countryside with its orange groves and horse farms to the “Old Florida” town of Arcadia. I read that they now have a large solar farm generating electricity. When we go, I will surely take some more photos.

      I have my painting table set up and a sketch made. The thing is, I don’t want to paint something literal and realistic…I want to capture the magic. I don’t know if I can do that, but I intend to try. Thank you for your kind words. Your comments always mean a lot to me. I hope you and your family are doing well. What was your daughter’s reaction to your lovely vacation? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. I much look forward to seeing the painting when I happens, and the photos Cheryl.
        We are doing good , thank you. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed our extended family vacation πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Subbashini, for your kind words. I always look forward to your paintings. My table is set up to paint and I have done a sketch. I guess I am waiting for inspiration, or maybe, a miracle! I too, like bridges very much. ❀ All the best!

      Like

      Reply

  3. Ziggurat is an unusual format, I’ve never seen it before .. you did very well!

    Cheryl I wish you luck with your painting, but your photos have captured the serene beauty and ambiance of such a special place!

    Appreciate you sharing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you so much, Kate, for your kind response. ❀ I love driving on country byways through the ranches and the orange groves and arriving in the quaint town of Arcadia. It is my pleasure to write about it. I have read that they now have a large solar farm generating electricity. Now that's progress I can appreciate! πŸ™‚ All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    1. Thank you for your kind response, Frank. ❀ I like all kinds of bridges, including historic covered bridges and swinging footbridges, which I enjoyed when I lived in Virginia. The Peace River bridge has some interesting art deco details and was probably only ever wide enough for one car at a time. I am glad Arcadia is preserving the bridge for posterity. They were working on it when I was there last. Do you have interesting bridges in Ohio?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. Cincinnati has a several interesting bridges. One the looks like the McDonald arches …. so locals call it the Big Mac Bridge … one very busy bridge that needs to be replaced, but involves two states with Kentucky leading the way. There is on old bridge crossing the Ohio River that is pedestrian only. But the most famous is the Roebling Suspension Bridge – the forerunner to the Brooklyn Bridge. There are some covered bridges still around in rural counties. …. Another one … Zanesville has one shaped like a Y.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you, Frank, for your interesting answer. I appreciate you taking the time. I did visit several bridges in Cleveland many years ago. One was a bridge that could be swung around. Here we have the Skyway in St. Petersburg. I hope the new infrastructure projects preserve some of our historic bridges, and I hope Ohio and Kentucky can come to an agreement! ❀

      Like

      Reply

    1. Lawrence, thank you for your kind response. It is a very special place for me. I love driving down the country byways through horse ranches and citrus groves and arriving at the quaint town of Arcadia.

      I hope you are doing well. Are you planning a visit to Russia once the pandemic is over? Take care! ❀

      Like

      Reply

  4. Thank you for a brief history of the place. I always enjoy such personal stories, and whether you capture the painting or not, you truly have with words. The pictures are gorgeous, not hard to see your love of this place.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    1. Thank you, Angela, for your encouraging words. ❀ It makes me happy that you liked the post. I look forward to the day when we can drive about an hour on the byways among the cattle ranches and orange groves to visit the quaint town of Arcadia once more. πŸ™‚ It's been quite a year, and I know you are anxious to visit your family. I think that day is growing closer. I am looking forward to seeing my children again. All the best! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Ashok. ❀ Glad you like the poem. I look forward to the time we can visit there again. It is a pleasant drive through horse ranches and orange groves to the historic town along the river. Have a wonderful weekend! ❀ ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. God willing soon Cheryl. Let us hope normal travel and meeting family and friends starts again πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–

        You too – have a great weekend πŸ’–πŸ’–

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe you can do a half-birthday trip to Mary Margaret’s this year (I’m guessing you’ve missed the one for 2021 also?)
    Anyway – get thee to the tea shop for a bit of well deserved fun since you are now armed (!) with your vaccination!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    1. Thank you Laura for your excellent suggestion! ❀ I think my birthday this year will also come before the pandemic ends. Robert isn't able to take the vaccine, so it may be a little while yet. That's OK. Life is very full, whatever happens. Maybe the half-birthday will work! Hope you are doing well! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. Yes, all is well here – 2nd Pfizer shot on Tuesday for me and the 30th for hubby.
        And we’ll both gladly contribute to the well-being of our society by continuing to wear our masks/social distance afterwards!
        Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, David, for your kind comment and for sharing your thoughts on Arcadia. ❀ Maybe you would enjoy a visit there. My daughters and I took a "swamp buggy" tour, as well as a boat tour when they visited here last year. Arcadia has a rodeo too, although I have never gone. All the best! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  6. Hope pandemic will over soon.
    So that you continue to follow the tradition to go Mary Margaret. That was so lovel and beautiful pictures Cheryl. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    (And sorry for coming here this late)

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    1. Ritish, this pandemic thing is getting really tiresome, isn’t it? I am looking forward to a pleasant drive through the horse ranches and orange groves to the quaint town of Arcadia. I am glad you enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚ Always good to hear from you! ❀ All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. I’m totally tired and unfortunately I think we are again going under lockdown here as cases are increasing again just like last year. Don’t know what’s going on.
        Anyway I’ll try to spend more time here in wordpress, as it is the only thing for now to calm my mind.
        Thankyou Cheryl. Best wishes to you too

        Like

  7. Hello Cheryl, You have described β€œ Grande Dame of Peace River ” beautifully. Happy to know your memories attached with it. You have told us that there are different shops and garage etc. which are connected with The Grande Dame. I got new information through your poem.

    I like the Ziggurat pattern because of it’s design.

    Thank you so much my friend. Take Care.πŸ’πŸ’β€οΈπŸŒ„

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you, Loku, for your kind words. I am happy that you enjoyed the poem. I found the Ziggurat form a lot of fun to work with.

      I will share with you a bit more about our SW Florida area, and maybe you would like to vacation here someday. We have many “snowbirds” who spend the winters here. Tourists enjoy fishing and sightseeing boat charters and our beautiful white-sand beaches. You can take a boat tour to see or swim with manatees and dolphins. There are also museums and wildlife parks in the area. Seminole and Miccosukee (Native American Tribes) have Everglades airboat tours, resorts, museums, and casinos. Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World are nearby.

      Arcadia is a historic “Old Florida” town that is a little off the beaten path of tourist destinations, but there is a lot to do there if you have the time. There are “swamp buggy” tours and boat tours on the Peace River which I enjoyed, and it is a popular destination for those who like antiques. There is a rodeo, which I have not experienced, but it might be fun.

      Both the Peace River and the Myakka River empty into the Gulf of Mexico near here. There are hiking trails and boat tours along the Myakka River and at Myakka State Park. I enjoyed the elevated walkway through the treetops and the observation tower there. Many beautiful tropical birds and lots of alligators can be seen on the boat tour. When I was there last, we saw wild pigs and their babies.

      Hope you are well and that school is going great! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  8. The Peace River looks beautiful. Flawless beauty of the place is sparkling with your capture. The Tea House looks grande. Nice place to make peace with the tummy. πŸ˜€ Hope you did enjoyed your day.

    Like

    Reply

  9. Thank you so very much for the poem, and the story, and the education about the poetic form. I always learn something when I visit here, and feel uplifted as I go about my day.

    I hope you are able to visit Mary Margaret’s in the not too distant future. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s