Everyone told me when I got to Audubon that I came at a cushy time, arriving in the temperate month of November. Now that June is around the bend I’m starting to see what they were talking about.
Adam Chasey paddling out in the Florida Bay.
Temperatures are reaching a balmy 94 degrees in the afternoons, which feels more like 105 slogging around in the humid mires of the Everglades. At our sample sites, the water around the flats could hard-boil an egg and the bays are about as refreshing as backwash. The only option for cooling down is pouring my ice-cold drinking water down my shirt, which I’m pretty sure will one day induce cardiac arrest.
I have yet to see the mosquito swarms famous for carrying off small children, but the deer flies, oh my lord the deerflies are unbearable. If mosquitoes are the infantry then the deerflies are the delta force of the bloodsucking army. They always seem to bite the hardest when both of my hands are occupied or they’ll attack in tactical nondescript locations like the ends of toes, the shoulder blades, or right on the soft spot of my arch. To boot, they are extremely fast and difficult to kill. I loathe them with such deliberate malice but when combined with the intense heat of a cloudless sun and the stillness of everything else, my rage probably looks more like a temper tantrum from some frustrated schizophrenic. Although, I must admit that killing them occupies the greater part of my day and really gives me a sense of purpose and direction. I feel just as accomplished in crossing out items on a to-do list as when I hear the crunch of their blood-filled abdomens on my arm. A little demented? Perhaps, but I guarantee if you spend a week out here you’ll be talking trash to the lifeless deerfly bodies smashed in your hands too.
Red mangrove in the flats at Joe Bay just before a large rainstorm.
Summer in the field might mean some slight discomforts, but when four o’clock rolls around and those cumulous nimbus clouds start building on the horizon, it all seems worth it. The energy in the Florida summer sky is intoxicating especially when out on the open water or mangrove flats. There’s just a certain vulnerability and appreciation I feel when the thunderheads tower over the landscape. May is only the beginning and I can’t wait to see what kind of fickle weather patterns ensue with the coming months, despite the bugs that come with them.