A sign at Boulware Springs announces that Boulware is Gainesville’s only artesion (sic) spring. Boulware isn’t for swimming. It used to be for drinking, until the city built a water treatment plant in 1948.
Had it not been for Boulware Springs, the University of Florida would have been located forty miles north, in Lake City. Gainesville was able to entice UF by promising free water in perpetuity, a promise on which it continues to make good. If it weren’t for the spring, Gainesville would never have known Tim Tebow and two national football championships. There would be no temporary RV cities on game days and there would be no such thing as Butler Plaza. Butler Plaza, too, would have been in Lake City, as would all the college bars that attract coeds in shorts so short they look like panties. Without Boulware Springs, life in Gainesville wouldn’t be quite so rewarding. No springs, no ball game. You can mull this interesting fact while staring down into Boulware’s pool, or you can close your eyes and imagine the springs as a Roman waterworks and yourself as Julius Caesar.
Boulware is at the head of the sixteen-mile Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail. I tried a bit of the trail last year, but I overheated quickly and had to retreat to my car. I have recently bought a fishing cap in an attempt to remedy this situation. I had a hard time deciding what kind of hat to buy. Originally, I bought a wide-brimmed straw hat. But the hat’s designer had taken a cue from antebellum millinery and the hat didn’t really work with shorts and t-shirts. It made me feel like a split personality; from the neck up I was Scarlett O’Hara and from the neck down, especially when wearing khaki shorts, I was a Boy Scout.
Eventually I found something unisex and completely lacking in fashionable detail. I have decided I like the no-nonsense hat. It doesn’t look ridiculous when paired with my other hiking accessory, a hickory walking stick. When I modeled the Scarlett hat with the stick, it made me worry about finding my picture in a hiking magazine under “Hiking’s Fashion Idiots.” I tossed the stick into the back of my car and I put the hat aside for the day that I might decide to become a Civil War reenactor.