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Osceola   contributed by Mexico Doug   MetBul Link


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90.5 grams   L6

TKW 1100 grams. Observed fall 24 Jan 2016, Florida, USA.


Doug writes:
Osceola № 7 is 90.5g, making it the second most massive fragment (after the main mass) reported so far for the Osceola fall. There are a few thread-like flight markings. Those who enjoy zoomorphs and art might see a triangular form suggesting an alligator's head ripped by a bit of regmaglypted toning. The diameter of the coin in the picture is 2.0 cm (0.78 inch), greater than a US penny but less than a nickel: The coin diameter is twice the length of one side of the usual centimeter meteorite scale cube.

Osceola Swamp Adventure, February, 2016
(Some notes on my Osceola strewnfield escapades, by Mexico Doug)

Just four days before the fall date of January 24, 2016, coincidentally, I was a stone's throw from what would become Osceola's ground-zero. I left Florida internationally and returned through Arizona a week later, heavily laden with meteorites. My great friend Serge A collected me at the airport and we heaved the space stones into his van. He mentioned there was a fall in Northeast Florida. Serge's just joshing, I thought – had he claimed Tampa or Miami, I could have fallen for his friendly sense of humor. Soon, my Comet Shop buddies convinced me it was all true! Now that I had arrived in Tucson … all I wanted was to return to the River City where I'd started ten days earlier. It was an ironic nightmare: I left the nest unguarded for meteorites in Arizona, but became a spectator to never-in-a-lifetime' meteoritic lightening striking my home turf!

Our first Arizona hunt was that week, on January 31st, and those who know me well –they all know-- I'd rather be “gone huntin' ”. My friend Dima K was intent on hunting at Indian Butte, where we had been successful before. His admonishment hurt, “You are a meteorite hunter!” What's wrong with you? Florida's just a swamp, no finds yet, here there are meteorites, come on, you meteorite hunting guy, come, find, smile! My great friend Dima S just looked at me. He knew what I was thinking. 'Ferromones'![1] I was stricken by Florida meteorite swamp fever! No rocket science was needed to see where I needed to be. Clairvoyantly, I just knew a meteorite had been found! It was not announced until two weeks later, but interestingly, as I mulled this over on January 31st,, and February 1st, the first new Florida fragments were actually found, Osceola № 1, Osceola № 2, Osceola № 3 and Osceola № 4, weighing a combined total of approximately 81 grams, according to the current entry in the MB. This was a secret at the time, and nothing I could say would coax a pair of Dimas back East to hunt in what we jokingly perceived to be an alligator pit. I dreamed of gators, anhingas and meteorites somewhere on the edge of the Sonoran desert instead...

I got more anxious with each passing day. My friend Rob Matson stopped by and said hello. He saw “Florida fall” written all over my face as my voice palpably rose to mention it, after blurting a single syllable greeting, if that. I recognized that spark of curiosity in his eyes, the fall had piqued him, too! It got better still: Rob had already painstakingly analyzed and compiled radar against witness reports for this event – and he flamed the fire that was already consuming me. I was feeling so low for being in Tucson - the right place at the very wrong time, but Rob's encouragement was like a jolt from a good espresso. I had to make a few trips to Anne B's after that, to relax and chat on the inviting sofa among interesting witnessed falls from all the corners of the globe. Since leaving Florida, I had not accessed computers or smart devices, making Rob's timing right on cue.

Twink M came by as well and we decided to take a rain check on catching up till next time since the show was winding down. She wished me luck at getting back to Florida as quickly as I could, along with some good luck for some finds. Thanks! … hope to tell Twink and her kind family personally about this one!

Push came to shove and against all odds, I got to Jacksonville as scheduled weeks prior, arriving late on February 13. No matter, on February 14th, I arrived on site nearly at sundown. It was Valentine's Day – where else would I rather be? A few miles before I was in the strewnfield, a big, dark shining SUV sped by, back-lit by a low Sun that blinded my eyes. The desolate place, by any other account, shouldn't have ritzy M.I.B. traffic towering above me like that! I later pieced together that it was Mike Hankey, who, with Larry's group made the January 31 finds. He was on his way out on his last day.

Just in time for Sunset, I walked a possibly productive section of the strewnfield. I had yet to plan any strategy and just needed to get a rough idea of the project. My feet quickly became soaked, and the sky darkened to a gleaming twilight. I kept searching highly reflective sandy roads until I could only walk back guided by celestial lights. I passed an intersection of a path and a sandy road, and observed what appeared to be a peculiar, partially cryptic, and smudged message written in the sand. Barely decipherable, and below pines whistling in the wind, this message came to me less than an hour after my arrival. The only discernible word in the scratch was “LUCK”. Ha! Those guys, the first team I greatly respect, are busted! (And, seriously, congratulations well deserved to them!)

Not that there was never any doubt that this was the place. X marks the spot... What spot? Maybe I'll find out later...

The next day, the friendly face of Mike Buresh on the tube predicted superb weather. I arrived at the strewnfield in the afternoon and surveyed the terrain better than the day before, over a greater area. Some folks were parked under a radar return, but they looked peaceful and even belonging there, so I kept on my way. Minutes later, I pondered where the axis crossed overhead and the same folks had piled into their truck and curiously stopped by to say hello. I looked up to see Larry, Laura and the rest of the lucky group in their powerful vehicle. I hadn't realized they were still hunting but now everyone knew with whom we shared the swamp. What a very friendly bunch of fellow explorers they turned out to be! Larry pulled out his remarkably crusted stone from the fall. It was Osceola № 6, found February 13.

Treating it like a newborn, Larry nervously handed over № 6 to let me hold it. Wow! Zombified after all the travel, but still, just wow! I tenderly handled it and shared a moment in his triumph of discovery. It was respectively wrapped in a papoose of, well ... toilet paper, an outer ribbon of which fell to the ground. This was a moment to appreciate,. It's not every day you get to hold a freshly fallen space gem! Curious, or maybe out of concern, my new friends asked, “How can you hunt here by yourself, what if you get stuck?” My reply, “Then I get to spend the night in the swamp”, which I thought a perfectly logical answer. I kissed the toilet paper papoose and returned their treasure, putting Larry's nerves again at rest, his baby back in his sight. We shook hands, and I hope some luck would rub off. They were gone faster than they had appeared. I stuffed the discarded leaf of meteorite TP in my car's molded compartment beside the lucky ashtray, to be my own charm. Meteorite hunting isn't a spectator sport … so I picked up the baton.

It was initially very hard work. Days, sometimes up to my waist in swamps and mud! New, taller boots yet water always overflowed to my wet toes. Pinelands, bulldozed pinelands, submerged pinelands, palmetto thickets, hammocks, cypress stands and glades; Waterways apparently doubling as roads during dry spells here. Lots of greenbrier and bramble to cut my arms, and acres of cinder and ash … Sometimes my skin and clothing were charred as a chimney sweep's. So I hummed an old catchy tune (and felt lucky like this in the burnt strewnfield: youtube link), “Chim, chimney, chim chim, cher-oo … good luck will rub off, when I shakes hands with you! Though I spends me time in the ashes and smoke, in this 'ole wide world, there's no happier bloke!”

As I made my way through all that land suffering from the dubious practice of fire ecology, I worried about the effects of the fire on the stones that could be there. Mental note: bad news … forget all those times I thought burning a strewnfield to help search overgrown brush. Not the finds I'd always prefer! Other times were a few run-ins with frightened flocking wild turkeys, turkey vultures circling above, red-tailed hawks, several smaller warblers, wrens and other songbirds, and once, even a loud pileated woodpecker (thwack, thwack, thwack!). The place was a wet wilderness!

My great friend Dennis W in Kingman emailed me one night asking what I was up to. I told him “running around in the swamp looking for meteorites by myself”. He told me, “Watch your butt, you might need help, and be sure to bring a buddy...” Yeah. “Ha, ha, I laughed it off.” Like nowhere else on Earth, this was the time, and this was the place I wanted to be.

More days of seemingly fruitless work. You'd think that hunting were monotonous. It wasn't. It was the effort, the stress to maintain all the senses tuned for that fleeting glimpse of a meteorite against this busy backdrop. That's why I'm here. It's not to fall into the routine where the mind loses its crucial edge and starts to assimilate and glide through the scenery. The goal, rather, is keeping that meta-stable threshold of alertness that maximizes success. The terrain varied so much it really became a mental overload at times, so I cut searching back to 4-5 hours per day. That was very expensive logistically. Then one day. Poof. I had left my headlamps on. I left my lights on? The battery was dead as a doorknob and dusk was progressing.

All afternoon not a soul could be heard driving over the closest road. My luck … it was to become the coldest night of the year, 25 F (-4 C). Needless to say, I didn't even have a sheet. I sent off three messages to Dennis, Rob and another more local friend, expecting a well deserved “I told you so”. I wondered if the cell signal would work. During the day, it usually would get a text through in a half hour. I mulled over my past words to Larry and his crew about being stuck, and shrugged to myself. Now was time to act on my casual comment and sleep in the bed I made for myself. The land was spectacularly quiet yet teaming with nighttime fauna. Waves of swaying fronds, grasses and trees created a synchrony of cymbals to keep my company. Helplessly, I enjoyed my predicament while reality wrestled with wild meteoric 'ferromones' and adrenaline still on high. I did my calculations. Oatmeal cream pies and strawberry treat cakes for 2500 Kcal – what was I complaining about? Sheesh, I could now start to hunt at Sunrise and not be bothered driving up to 200 miles for once, as I had done daily. That's a good thing, right?

I tried to settle into the sub-compact car but knew it was going to be a bad night. At that moment I heard a motor in the distance. It was a truck seemingly patrolling a road. Scary, but I hauled butt to try to reach it. That was not easy in doubled pairs of dirty, taught blue jeans, one of the legs of the outer only reaching halfway up. Just when I nearly succeeded, the pickup turned around in the darkness. As if a clueless drone, it continued pacing away slowly and decidedly. I ran behind in vociferous pursuit. But this situation became spooky, and visions of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre filled my head, shadowy creations were emerging from behind every tree. Nearly ½ mile later I heaved behind a mysterious ghost truck … or was I the ghost? My breath gave out and I slowly receded further behind, and failure stung as much as I welcomed the relief to stop.

I had run far to catch that tantalizing truck. It was a long walk back. The swamp spirits pulled the puttering motor methodically into distant silence. Not only was walking long, but soon the frigid air became penetrating. As a tropical soul, inland Florida freezing is not something I expected. My senses were crisp from the run followed by the cooling of the sweat on my neck and back as I arrived at the car. I caught a glimpse of a fleeting animal. “Bobcat”, No problem, I figured. My local friend's text reply was waiting. They could never find me and my cell phone was about dead, too. Okay, I pondered the night. The stars twinkled brightly and the moon rose over the swamp like an old friend. I've been in these sorts of places a hundred times before, though usually in better circumstances. All was familiar in a some way, though the geography was new, it didn't matter. But the cold was hitting harder with each passing thought. I began preparing to be warm, when I was unhinged without warning, tensing my worn-out spine. A startling, ominous crash echoed through the woods near me, and the peaceful setting and chorus of animal was instantly dead. Okay, this has been hapless but in the realm of coolness. Now I'm scared. What was that...?

An amorphous silhouette began to materialize out of pure darkness. It was rapidly approaching me. I first thought I was looking at a very large ape. Am I going nuts? Oh crap. Heart pumps. No where to run. Lock doors. Duck low. Peek. Wait. Surrealism. This is not happening to me, right? Here it comes, too. Uh oh, that's not a good sign. Maybe its a big, big dog. No, it's definitely not a dog. Too big and somewhat upright. A witch's demon, or black cat of enormous proportions, arching it back and dangling its arms. Closer it approached, directly towards me on a developing macabre night. Relax, Doug. Don't panic. Right. Behind the car … scratching the side of the car. Be still. Ffff--- Yikes!

It's a big bear! Wheew!!! He's hungry? What should I do, my pulse continued as a loud metronome driving my whole body like bellows, although the situation was mostly resolved. Think quickly! Maybe he wants an oatmeal cream cookie? I make a move to get one. The animal peers at me and abruptly bounds off like King Kong into the night. A moment later, a little distant crashing, and finally nothing remains but silvery moonlight, the singing nocturnal insects, and an assortment of small animals' sounds. The stars were winking from the heavens, but I only could summon up a faint chuckle!

Rob has responded but by now, the cell battery is running only on residual static electrical charge and the cold doesn't help. He's back in civilization this Friday night. I imagined the scene of a warm California pub during happy hour, jingling and clanging with toasts in the mirthful atmosphere of friends. I barely have the coulombs to text “I'd rather join you there, than be with a friendly Bolide-Bear!”, trying to inject humor into the situation. Now the cold was bone-chilling and I had other problems. I stuffed a couple of plastic bags into my high boots, got them over my legs, and tried to put those over the dash. Quickly I learned it was too cold to have them stretched out there so I took to the fetal position, curling up into a ball. The boots provided little warmth and I just resigned myself that the night would be both too painfully cold, and, too uncomfortable to position myself for any sleep. All I had to do was count the time and not freeze. I ate two oatmeal cream cookies to keep my inner fire lit for the night ahead and tossed and turned. It was far worse than flying across the Atlantic on a third class red-eye. Finally, I was in a daze when a most crystalline sunrise fragmented from the horizon.

Filtering through a car covered by a thick, otherwise opaque frost, sunlight blazed through the icy glass to my tired eyes like a magnesium flare from the climbing Sun. Do I feel my toes? Sort of... I survived! Time to go meteorite hunting! What a grand affliction! Oblivious to the recent perils and their possibility to repeat, I am tensely focused on finding meteorites till almost 3:00pm. 3:15 PM … Okay, time to get rescued and near the road again. By 5:15pm I had nearly given up hope. Nobody came by, so I stretched out and rested on the most comfortable cushioning sandy road beneath me. Visions of “Doug, I told you so” were again clouding my head. There was no food. I had water though, and plenty of it. Suddenly the wild turkeys were getting interesting. No, that was a fantasy – I could never get near them – and I'm screwed. Sunset is approaching, so I start for the car together with a stirring brisk breeze across my sandy brow. Things could be worse. I prepared myself on the eve of Dad's birthday to spend another night recalling little details of him that might have been forgotten through the years in a busier world somewhere out there, far from me.

As I'm walking with Dad on my mind with the thought of finding another meteorite in his honor on his birthday, I hear the faint puttering of an engine. Praise the Lord of the Swamps or a loving Parent's inspiring memory that's looking over me! This time I run fast --- desperately fast --- as if my life depended upon it pursuing a return to reality. “No”, I tell myself, I won't do well another night here. I reach the road and a pickup is in plain view and coming towards me. I flag him down and see an entire, sensibly jittery, family riding inside. The driver's thick Florida drawl is my welcomed lullaby!, “You ain't gonna pull nothing, cause I got a gun. This is my family, and you make one move and I'll use it.” I stutter, “I'm stuck, I have cables, I need a jump, that's all!”

“You ain't gon' try nothing, right? Where's your truck?” I point, “Down that way, it's just a small car.” He says, “Down there? I always help folks. But, you tryin' to pull something? All right, but I got my hand on my gun, you ain't gonna try nothing, right?” “No sir, a thousand times, no, please help me, sir.” “All right, but you ain't gon' try nothing. Right?” “You must'a froze last night.” “Yeah, I did.” Finally my car is in sight after more “ain't gonna try anythings” and he says, “You're just nuts. I don't even come alone in my truck here, and I live close, born and bred in these parts. What made you think you could use this vehicle here? Why are you here, anyway? You looking for arrowheads? Not allowed to do that! He continued, “Hehe, I … “

10 minutes later, and just a few more (you ain't gonna try anything, right?)'s, we prodded the frozen ignition to turn over and he said, “OK, you first, in front!” “Yes sir! Thank you, sir!” and then finally with a hint of mutual confidence, I introduced myself by name and extended my hand to shake, expressing how thankful and lucky I was to meet him and his magnificent family. They were heroes. He laughed - “Hey, Doug's my name too! Don't make this mistake again, you did somethin' dumb. There's no one for miles and miles here to find you... the Lord be with you.” We both stepped on it and booked through the sand in opposite directions. I felt Dad had just telegraphed me a scolding with his helping hands.

Like my Osceola № 8 (18.6g, supremely fresh) find, Osceola № 7 (mass: 90.5 g), was discovered on Washington's and Florida's joint birthday anniversary, February 22, 2016. It was quite fresh, and suffered no rains beyond Larry's group's finds, and was not buried. It was well-crusted except for the side in contact with the ground. It was such a joy to find. Although not buried, it formed a mini impact dent of soft, fine-grained sandy earth below. The continuously fused portion was not in contact with ground within the impact 'dent'. The illusion was of a very large buried meteorite. I savored the moment for quite a long time before tenderly removing it from its immaculate landing site upon on the Earth. The moment for recovering a freshly fallen stone is always special. This time, however, Dad was with me, off the beaten path, from his old homestead nearby. It was then I decided № 7 (№ 8, too) was the daylight bolide he would have photographed in our old stomping grounds – and we found it!

It's an enormous joy after spotting a meteorite – to absorb the beauty of the situation. In this case, I dragged it out for over 10 minutes and even Dad's influence endured. It was still uncontaminated by my human presence, and still, a measurably more radioactive space rock than the background would register on a sensitive instrument. It is both a beautiful sunset, and a virgin, all in one, and she's all mine to imbibe. I finally remove it with a feeling of loss. Perhaps I'm strange, but the least favorite part of finding a meteorite for me is lifting it from the wild and taming it!

If you've found a lot of meteorites, you may recognize well the feeling that comes with claiming a large buried meteorite upon seeing only the tip of your new find is exposed … you expect the other 90% covered up by the earth below. It's an ekstasis while your breath ardently anticipates a massive find. Maybe your heart pauses and you don't breathe for the magical moment. Then, you reach to grasp it, expecting to pull, and go deeply into the earth excavating with your fingers. Surprise! You learn you have found precisely – and only – the tip of your meteorite iceberg! The non-crusted relatively flat bottom – slightly embedded perhaps – simply rests on the top of the ground. What soon follows, is a frantic, and then more measured and exhaustive, search of the surroundings. All is guided by an assumption: The other part is here somewhere, and somewhere here, I will find it!

An hour later, after crisscrossing every place a dozen times, you cross once again, in ever more creative geometry. Finally, you grudgingly look at the wonderful find, really, for the first time since its recovery. You chuckle with it calmly and safely resting in your palm, reflecting in amazement. Now you savior your good fortune. Your feelings resolve and you enter the phase of wonder. How did this particular shape or mass come to be precisely here in the strewnfield? At what height had the stone fractured during flight? And had it not … might it have fallen a mile away into the cypress and 'glades, just like that elusive bigger end, which now slips through the excited fingers of your greedy imagination … such was the silent scene at the discovery of Osceola № 7, which is about 65% dark black crusted.

[1] Ferromones: An imaginary, inexplicable, human chemical attraction to elemental-iron containing stones.

Osceola was a roller coaster fall for me. I've known the environs of the fall since preadolescence. With my Father, I planned our first treasure hunts there together, for Civil and Indian War relics, and that is where I gave him the treasure hunting bug. It is one of the most historical, yet empty places in the State … Also, some of Florida's darkest skies for astrophotography are there. One of the MPOD pictures is of Dad, in his honor, for countless days he worked in the swamp to provide for his family. At that time, it never occurred to me what dangers he faced in his solo random walks through the swamps, glades and hammocks.

Even after he'd been bitten by a venomous coral snake alone in the swamp, and rescued by helicopter as a child I guess I just expected Dad would always come home. Though we never hunted meteorites together, I spent many nights as the “tripod-boy” with a salary of 10 cents an hour in exchange for keeping company and lugging that extra tripod he seldom needed. We were devoured by mosquitoes when he filmed the heavens and lusted to catch a real bolide on film – daylight fireballs most excited him. Later on, when I called him from college and work, he yearned to find a meteorite with his metal detector frequently. He wondered if he already had one in his pile of saved, hot rocks and other assorted, unidentified objects. Whenever I contemplate the cosmos, I always feel Dad watching over me. For a few minutes in February, I perceived his celebratory hollers beside me. I felt his smile reach down from the sky and tease me again.

Good luck to all!

Doug


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Jim Brady
 5/3/2016 1:16:41 PM
fantastic story telling Doug--congrats
Linton Rohr
 4/30/2016 7:44:36 PM
Wonderful. Stone and story.
MexicoDoug
 4/30/2016 7:20:07 PM
John, no harm at all, I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed to have enthusiasm get the best of me. The Hans Christian Anderson story was on my mind as the pain from the cold hit, in it a cold child on the street sees a meteor and remembers her lost grandmother and lights all of her matches and sees her grandma and dreams in their warmth, until there are none left and she dies frostbitten. Larry may not have heard my response to his smiling Uncle well, it wasn't precisely "What's a meteorite?" It was actually "What's a meaty right?" But, boy, a moment later he sure showed me and I appreciate that some luck did rub off!
John Divelbiss
 4/30/2016 6:53:20 PM
poor joke on my part about freezing...I certainly haven't been in such a situation. Can't imagine experiencing a night like that. Loved your response to Larry's uncle. "What is a meteorite??"...
MexicoDoug
 4/30/2016 4:38:55 PM
Thanks Michael, it was definitely worth writing about, but you know it gets even crazier than that!
MexicoDoug
 4/30/2016 4:36:30 PM
Larry! Thanks my kind friend! Yes, I left out a few more things that are really hilarious to a demented swamp dweller. For example a brand new technique of ground based strewnfield mapping that your team inadvertently had me try. Then there's the story of some Nordic gold from the strewnfield! Thanks for reminding me who was driving your vehicle. I really didn't expect such a great guy to pop me the question, meteorite hunting? I still couldn't see high inside when you called Mexico Doug so I was caught off balance for a minute there ;) Thanks again, what a great team you guys had. Looks like the end of your comment cot clipped ...
MexicoDoug
 4/30/2016 4:23:00 PM
Cheers Matthias, and there you have my novella we were talking about the other day ;-) John, this fall more than most required a lot of discipline and perhaps some of the blind stupidity I exhibited on the front line of infantry. There were many unknowns like, the behavior of the stones in both the silty and the organic matter there. How quickly would the ground eat them? Very crucial questions. My connection to my Dad via the swamp and decafes of astrophotography goes a long was to explain my mindset. He kept my eyes as focused on space rocks as his prototype Questar (as far as I know, field model serial number #1 from New Hope. That was one tripod not to carry)
Michael Mulgrew
 4/30/2016 4:17:07 PM
Now that is a hunt story for the ages!
Larry Atkins
 4/30/2016 11:20:08 AM
What a fantastic story Doug! I feel privileged to have played a small part in your big adventure. When we pulled up to you I looked from the back seat and I saw an old friend standing there, one I had not seen or heard from in some years, and I was very happy to see you! Your story is wonderful but you left out a very funny moment Doug, perhaps by design, but I have to share! When we saw you in the road on our way out we didnt know who you were, so as we pulled up I told my Uncle, who was driving, to ask you if you were meteorite hunting. Of course you had no idea who we were, you couldn't see me in the back seat, and with the straightest face you could muster you looked right at my Uncle and said "What's a meteorite?" I busted up laughing and that's when I called out your name, "Mexico Doug!" I yelled, the surprised look on your face was priceless! I'm very happy for you and I congratulate you with all my being. That place was incredibly tough but you persevered and succeeded a
John Divelbiss
 4/30/2016 10:23:13 AM
Doug, Your hunting trip reads more like an Outdoor Life safari story gone bad. Glad you didn't freeze to death in Florida. That might be a first. :) Great meteorite FIND making it all worth the while, plus Dad came along with this trip. Nice to get mental glimpses of a lost one when we are in need of some help, reassuring our dreams and purpose for such an adventure.
Matthias B.
 4/30/2016 5:43:21 AM
P.S. Wish you a perfect recovery, Doug, take good care and keep this spirit.
Matthias B.
 4/30/2016 5:37:38 AM
Swamp-hunting for heavenly stones. Very crazy story indeed, in a positive sense of course, and brillantly reported. Osceola No.7 "Gator's head" mass, of course. So beautiful. Mazeltov, Doug! Thank you so much for the pics, for the adventure story. I bring out a toast on Osceola, on you and your co-hunting colleagues and friends, and on your father.
 

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