CHAPTER 7: The Character of the Country
THE TERRAIN we had suffered through since first landing in Florida is mostly level, the soil sandy and stiff. Throughout are immense trees and open woods, containing nut varieties, laurels, a species called liquid-amber 39 [sweet-gum], cedars, junipers, live-oaks, pines, red-oaks, and low palmettos like those of Castile.
Everywhere are lakes, large and small, some hard to cross because of their depth and/or profusion of fallen trees. They have sand bottoms. The lakes in the Apalachen country are far larger than any we had seen earlier.
This province has many cornfields, and houses are scattered over the countryside as at Gelves [on the Guadalquivir just south of Seville].
We saw three kinds of deer; rabbits and jackrabbits; bears and lions [panthers]; and other wild animals, including one [the opossum] which carries its young in a pouch on its belly until they are big enough to find food by themselves; but, even then, if someone approaches while they are foraging, the mother will not run before the little ones get into her pouch. [Evidently the expeditionaries saw no alligators.]
The country is very cold [rare for June days in Florida]. It has fine pastures for cattle. The wide variety of birds in abundance includes geese, ducks, royal drakes, ibises, egrets, herons, partridges, falcons, marsh-hawks, sparrow-hawks, goshawks, and numerous other fowl. [Why, then, did the soldiers do no hunting?]