A strangler fig wrapped around a large cypress tree.
A swamp by any other name would be just as sweet, right?
A cypress dome in Big Cypress National Preserve
For the longest time I’ve dreamed about photographing the Fakahatchee Strand and Big Cypress in South Florida. Finally, two weeks ago I got to briefly test the waters, making one of many-to-come trips.
Densely packed swamps, the overwhelming epiphytic conquest, and secretive wildlife all reveal the Baroque character that is the Florida tropics. Like Borneo, Machu Picchu, or Bora Bora, the name alone carries a reputation all its own and with it the allure of some foreign Pandora that demands exploration and inspires wonderment.
Pond apples adorned with mosses, ferns, and orchids.
The Calusa, Timucuans, and Jororo tribes had it right. All of my favorite places around Florida have names with a built-in personality and timelessness. To name a few: Kanapaha, Apalachicola, Panasoffkee, Myakka, Pithlochocoo, Alachua, and of course, the Ichetucknee.
Tillandsia and cypress trees
Cypress knee cluster
It’s the antiquity of it all; like a lost civilization, overgrown and forgotten, you can only imagine the once wildness that was the entire state. In a few well-hidden places, little pockets of exclusive backcountry help remind me that this was what Florida must have looked like 18 million people ago. And I wonder, should the Timucuans or Calusa still be around would they be so spiritual or optimistic? What kind of name would they give our Miami or the bustling streets of Orlando?
Halloween pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina)
Wildflowers in the sawgrass prairie