Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Corkscrew Swamp - protection of Florida's natural lands

One more day of rest before I attempt a century.
So I visit the swamp.

Should I walk around the boardwalk? I ask the young man just leaving the path.
"Don't bother," he says. "It's a waste of time."

But I go anyway.
And I'm glad I did.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a treasure of this country.
Rich with wildlife and plant life.
Here in the heart of Florida are 11,000 acres including the largest virgin stand of bald cypresses in the country.
Some of these trees are the oldest in the Eastern United States.

To see it you now traverse a wonderful boardwalk where in the past people had to wade up to their thighs to see the wonders of the Corkscrew Swamp.

The boardwalk wanders in and among the cypress trees. Numerous benches tempt the walker to pause. And the slower you go, the more you see.

We develop a comeraderie along the trail. I pause with the posse awaiting the possible glimpse of a painted bunting. "How long have you been waiting?" I ask the man with the big lens. "Two hours."
This is a man with patience.

"Did you see the snake?" a lady asks me.
"What kind of bird is that? another asks.
"Do you want to look through my binoculars?"

We share a common bond, this appreciation of nature.

"Did a bear claw that tree?"

As I walk the boardwalk I remember another boardwalk long ago, walking with Alex when she was little. We were hoping to see an elusive bittern. In fact, as we walked along we heard the distinctive Ka-junk! of the bird. We froze and looked intently at the reeds alongside the walkway.

No bird. We started off but again stopped at the sudden Ka-junk! Where was he? He sounded so close! Strain as we could, we couldn't spot the hidden bird.

Once more we started along the boardwalk. Once more, that odd sound - ka-junk!

But this time, Al discovered the source. No bird. just the ka-junking of my water bottle bopping along in my backpack.

Corkscrew swamp - a delightful place to relax.
And prepare for the next day's challenge.
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