Me: “Hey Adam, do you want to come camping with me this weekend in the Glades?”
Adam: “Nah man, I don’t think so. I kinda hate nature right now.”
Me: “Yeah, I know what you mean. Do you have plans?”
Adam: “I’m not sure, but I feel like I need something pretentious; something really fake, like a corndog.”
In the last two weeks we logged 141 hours of fieldwork. Some days started at 3:00 in the morning and lasted until 7:30 in the evening. The unforgiving sun, freezing water, low tides, relentless mosquitoes, thousands of rotting fish, lightning storms, deep mud banks, mangrove tangles, howling winds, slippery boardwalks, and curious crocodiles are usually the elements of what I consider to be a successful day. However, throw in cumbersome gear and faulty equipment with the responsibility to bring reliable data back to the office, it’s no surprise we might need a break from nature.
My dilemma is a little more complicated than just simply turning my back and heading for the nearest corndog stand. I’m paid to be a biologist so while I’m on Audubon’s time, my camera (generally) stays in it’s waterproof case. When the weekends come, I haven’t satiated my creative urge to explore and create. I’m still struggling to find the right balance but it would be unfair to say that the fieldwork is an obstacle. In many ways it’s an enabler. Thanks to the long hours under the sun trudging through sawgrass and mangroves, I have a much thicker skin. I’ve realized that discomfort is relative. Plus, the Everglades seems so much less intimidating now that I know the scientific names of all the fish and aquatic vegetation. The uncomfortable “ew” that squeezes through my toes like muddy toothpaste is now just a harmless loose mat of periphyton. I now look at the living landscape and catalogue everything into small biospheres, each with their own rules and dynamics.
So ignoring my body’s urges to sleep in and soak up some artificial lighting, I left for the Everglades this weekend on a solo camping trip. Here are some images from the adventure.