Nov 9, 2018

Soil is destiny

Farming never quite panned out in the Big Cypress.

Partly because the economics never quite worked out.

Sugar cane in the Everglades
Agricultural Area (EAA)
as seen along Route 80

Sod farm in the EAA
On the other hand,

Farming took off on the Sawgrass Plain south of the lake thanks to its rich peat.  About the same size as the Big Cypress, the vast expanse of sawgrass is a sea of sugarcane (and sod) today.

The swamp can thank its lucky stars its soils weren't right.

Nov 8, 2018

Nov 6, 2018

Ghost farmers in the sky

Swamp buggies sort of resemble tractors ...

But the days of farming The Big Cypress are long gone.

Now you see them ...
Yes, the furrows appear visible from the sky.

But from ground level you'd swear they weren't there.

Now you don't
Sometimes you have to be far away to properly focus in.

Nov 5, 2018

"Get your swamp tomatoes here!"

Farms are gone, but the outlines
of the furrows still remain

as seen along Tamiami Trail looking south

Oct 31, 2018

Swamps get spooked, too

Are the swamps spooky?

To the uninitiated, “yes."

All Ye Who Enter:
And who could blame them, they are wooded, dark, and watery.

Alligators lurk, and panthers too – but those worries are misguided:

The animal you really have to watch out for are water moccasins.

Not that they chase you – they won’t!

Nor do they spook – they don’t!

Can you see the spider?

If not, you'll feel it on your face
when you unwittingly walk
into the web

Rather, it’s because they don’t spook when they hear you that causes the real fright.  If you walk without caution in their path, you could be surprised by a strike when you least expect it.

And yes, that could bite.

There are giant spiders too!

But even worse is a trunk-to-trunk spanning web on your face (and in your hands as you try to remove it after the fact),

Is a spider there too, in my hair or crawling down my neck?

It rarely the case, but the thought certainly spooks!

Craggily pond apple
forests look foreboding
Hollywood-inspired legends of a Swamp Thing and local lore of a Skunk Ape may have you fearing knee-deep cypress forests alone at night the same way Jaws kept you in the knee-deep shallows of breaking saltwater waves in a crowd at the beach with the sun at its peak.

The truth is that humans evolved to fear the swamps.

They are virtually uninhabitable by modern day standards, and efforts to inhabit them quite literally ruin whatever swamp was once there by way of digging, draining, filling, cutting, and building;

The cypress are lovely,
dark and deep ...

Don't get lost!

Not to mention the real Frankensteins of the quagmire – Maleleuca trees, Brazilian Pepper, Old World Climbing Fern, pythons, plus every other invader ...

On the rapidly-spreading list of non-native invasives!

I’m here to tell you it’s not we who should fear the swamps.

They are a misunderstood beauty in need of love instead.

The truth in actuality is quite the opposite:

It’s the swamps that should fear us!

In the right light:
Cypress aren't
so spooky after all!
So tread lightly in a swamp near you, and trust in me whenever you do – by sun or night or nearing twilight – its liquid realm is a beautiful sight, from top to bottom and start to end, it’s silence is the comfort of your oldest friend.

Happy Halloween!

Oct 29, 2018

Where alligators roam

Who says you don't leave tracks in the water?

Here's a case where a gator left a clear trail.

The path not taken
Only I never did see the gator.

Even though it looked like it had recently been there.

As seen earlier in September 

Was it coming or going?

I didn't get any closer to see.

Oct 27, 2018

Haunted hike!

Some trails are better walked in broad daylight ...

And at all costs to be avoided at night.

Day: Strangler fig wrapped around a cypress.

Night: Hand of a giant ghoul squeezing an unsuspecting hiker.

Day: As scary as this tree is in broad daylight I don’t even want to think about what it looks like at night.

Night: See Day.

Day: Spiderwebs inconspicuously placed along the side of the trail.

Night: Giant banana spiders spin webs face high across middle of boardwalk.

Day: Do you see the shadows of giant cypress in the photo? They're the Ghost Trees of the Fakahatchee Past which, clear cut and logged in the 1940s, reappear at the marsh every Halloween for a swamp reunion. Apparently some get there early thus explaining the shadows.

Night: Unknown, I high tailed it out of there while it was still light!

Oct 26, 2018