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Monday's Quick Hits: Chinsegut, Hernando's beauty, the environment and a legend

More on Chinsegut ...

After columns run, I often find there's some minor adjustment I'd like to make, some small something I would have added if I'd had the chance, and so it is with Sunday's piece on Chinsegut Hill.

Before Friday's tour of the hill — which Hernando County is thinking of leasing for a nominal sum — I went for a mountain bike ride in the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest.

The idea was to see how much beautiful scenery I could pack into one morning in Hernando County.

A whole lot, it turns out: a pink sunrise over the rolling pastures as I rode east of Brooksville to the forest on Croom Road; the sun streaking through the tall, straight pines along the bike trail; then, at Chinsegut, the historic house and its grounds filled with flowering camellias and several of the county's oldest, grandest live oaks.

Considering how it could all be strung together with hiking or bike trails — the hill, the forest and the various plots of natural, publicly owned land in between — this is the little something I realized I'd left out:

Chinsegut could be the coolest, most inspiring project the county has ever taken on.

Such a "nice" day ...

This experience on Friday was extra pleasant because of the weather — cloudless skies, not even a hint of a chill at dawn in the middle of January.

And later, on Chinsegut Hill, there were lots of comments about what a gorgeous day it was. But 2012 was by far the warmest on record in the United States, and we've been hit with a near-continuous barrage of reports from around the world of disturbingly odd weather events.

Florida has miles of shoreline that could be flooded by rising sea levels and a climate that would be barely habitable if it grew much warmer. Its developers pray for frigid weather up north to drive people south.

So there might not be enough scientific evidence to link short-term warm spells with global warming, but there is enough to take the fun out of them.

More cycling ...

If there's any advantage to me writing — according to some of my online commentators and crustier colleagues — a tiresome amount about this niche subject, it's that I've also read just about everything written about it.

So, just in case you were tempted to believe a single word that comes from Lance Armstrong in his interview today with Oprah Winfrey, you can take it from me: Don't.

Florida case before the U.S. Supreme Court ...

Environmental regulations don't need to be any weaker, but they could be if the Supreme Court decides in favor of a landowner who, 19 years ago, challenged a water management district's demand that he mitigate for destruction of wetlands.

(Read it at

It's property rights versus the environment and, considering the makeup of this court, I'd bet the environment will be the loser again.

Gene Patterson ...

Unfortunately, Patterson retired as editor of this paper the year before I arrived, and I never got to meet him.

But I spent a lot of time working with and drinking beer with old-time reporters, the kind who specialized in cutting legends down to size. If there was anything to suggest that Patterson's reputation as a tank commander, civil rights crusader and writer was overblown, that he was not quite the man he appeared to be in the obituary that ran in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times, I would have heard about it. I never did.

Even the most skeptical reporters regarded him as the person who helped make this paper what it was, a hero to his profession.

Monday's Quick Hits: Chinsegut, Hernando's beauty, the environment and a legend 01/14/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 14, 2013 11:15am]
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