Swamp, hammock, peat bog, marshland, everglade, slough, fen, moor: all synonyms for large areas of wetlands with or without woody aquatic vegetation and with or without fresh water. Each near a shallow body of water, each tolerate periodical flooding, and each a valuable ecological habitat.
Throughout our years of camping experiences, we have included stopovers at several swampy areas in the Southeast and along the North Sea coast of Germany. The most extensive swamps in the United States are found along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, examples being the Everglades of Florida, Dismal Swamp of Virginia, and Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia.
The long shadows and ever-changing reflections dance across the murky, sometimes greenish water as night approaches in the realm of trees and water. Its subtle setting both soothing yet mysterious in the darkness of a watery cypress forest. I’ve stood beneath towering Redwoods of northern California, inside massive rotted Sitka Spruce in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula National Park, and beside the ancient Bald and Tupelo Cypress at Cypress Swamp on the Natchez Trace Parkway. All encounters with an ecosystem and an environment which takes on a life of its own and provides an opportunity to see beyond myself and into God’s marvelous creation.
Interaction with such a foreign biological world can sometimes be life threatening, though. Anxious to capture the unique pitcher plants lining the road edge into the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Georgia, I darted out of the truck and traipsed on ahead while my husband gathered all his camera equipment from behind the driver’s seat.
Squatted in the grassy ditch, happily clicking the shutter button and oblivious to my surroundings, I peered up over my left shoulder as my husband approached from above. Eyes bulging but with complete control, he quietly encouraged me to move slowly back onto the road.
“Look behind you,” he warned. To my shock the alligator in the photograph was stealthily approaching from behind. I had managed to infiltrate his territory by blocking the well-worn path through his grassy habitat. I should have paid more attention to the sign that read, “Okefenokee City Limits, Caution: Alligator Crossing Next Three Miles.” One of the first things stressed in any self defense class is to “know your surroundings.” I had not.
Of course, you would have thought with this incident we both would have left dirt flying behind us as we rushed back to the truck. Not the case. We watched the alligator wind his way through the grass and back onto his regular route, but not until after a photo shoot. He seemed to pose for my inquisitive husband, gator teeth never revealed, just eyeballing the man behind the tripod. One creature scare was enough for one evening, so it was photograph the human being photographing his animal subject for me. Our gator subject soon slid into his watery home, probably tired of the intrusion.
What is it exactly that fascinates this vivid, mostly color-oriented photographer with a seemingly ominous, murky setting? Are there mysteries to be discovered beneath the liquid home or among tall vegetation of a few slithering creatures I’d rather not meet but would love to write about? Whatever the reason, below you will find a few images from my photo collection of swamp hopping with groping cypress knees and lurking predators, as well as photography shoots drenched in the stifling air.
Cypress Swamp, Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
Everglades National Park, Florida
Everglades National Park, Florida (Slogging to an alligator hole. No, I would not attempt this again!)
Highlands Hammock State Park, Florida
Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia
Manatee Springs State Park, Florida
Swampy Area Outside Natchez, Mississippi
Brown’s Bottom, Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas
Grossefehn, northwest Germany
(Future posts will include peat digging, moor dwelling, and fen images as well as information about my boggy ancestral heritage. If you can’t wait until then, go to http://www.wiesmoor-info.de/html/wiesmoor.html , click on moor)
Photo collection was gathered over an eight-year span and captured with three
Canon point-and-shoot cameras.
Warning: know your surroundings when in a swampy area. It’s a matter of life and
Want to saturate yourself in swampy knowledge, check out the following
For digital wetland saturation, take a look at www.corinthrose.com under This N’ That
Thanks for swampin’ with me.