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Rye Preserve trail leads to frontier cemetery in eastern Manatee County

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My momma died last week in Thibodaux, La.

That’s why I didn’t have a column in last week’s Ticket section. And that’s probably why I went to the Rye Preserve for this week’s feature.

There’s nothing like a walk in the woods to clear the mind and soothe the soul. East of Bradenton, near Parrish, a sandy trail leads to Rye Creek and a little frontier cemetery. Very peaceful.

When school groups visit Rye, guides point out the tiny tombstones of the many family members who died as children. There are also two large stone markers.

Erasmus Rye, April 23, 1834 - July 31, 1889: “Having finished life’s duty, He now sweetly rests.”

Mary L. Rye, Dec. 27, 1844 - Sept. 15, 1930: “Faithful to every duty.”

Flowers in the surf
My mother did not live as long as the remarkable Mary Rye, but she was certainly faithful to every duty, especially when it came to her family.

She was 79 years old and got to spend some time with her great-grandchildren.

Audrey Becnel died at home and in bed.

My sisters and I were grateful for that. We had a traditional wake and funeral attended by many of our Cajun cousins.

Instead of a traditional burial, though, we chose cremation and decided to scatter her ashes in the Gulf of Mexico off Grand Isle, La.

We were all nervous — I don’t think anyone in our family has ever done anything like that — but the beach was lonely and beautiful. We waded into the water and scattered her ashes along with dozens of red, yellow and pink rose petals.

Momma won’t have a stone marker, but she will have a whole island as a memorial.

Creek bridges
To reach the Rye cemetery, you have to cross a small creek.

Every few years, an Eagle Scout builds a footbridge across that creek. Every few years, summer floods sweep it away.

There’s no bridge right now, but there are two trees that have fallen across the shallow stream. I tried both of them without breaking my neck, but I wouldn’t recommend them.

You’re better off getting your feet wet.

That creek bed happens to be one of the best trails in the Rye Preserve. It’s pretty much all sand. The water is only a few inches deep.

On a gray day, I walked up the creek and back. I followed a side trail to the white picket fence that marks the Rye cemetery. I paid my respects to Erasmus and Mary and then headed for home.

Interested?
The Rye Preserve, 905 Rye Wilderness Trail, is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. Campsites are available on Friday and Saturday nights. mymanatee.org; 776-0900. Just downstream on the Manatee River is Ray’s Canoe Hideaway, 1289 Hagle Park Road, which is open every day but Wednesdays. rayscanoehideway.com; 747-3909.
Last modified: February 28, 2013
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