Revisiting Our Time Spent in the Everglades!
by Rachelle Siegrist
“Out on the Anhinga Trail, the only sounds you hear are the wind riffling through the saw grass and the splash of fish feeding on insects and one another and the great long-necked anhingas diving or emerging from the mahogany waters of a sluggish, seaward moving slough. You hear a hundred frogs cheeping and croaking and the sweet wet whistle of a Red-winged Blackbird. A primeval six-foot alligator passes silently through the deep slough to the opposite side, coasts to a stop in the shallows, and lurks, a corrugated log with eyes. An anhinga rises from the water and flies like a pterodactyl to a cluster of nearby mangrove roots and cumbrously spreads and turns its enormous wings like glistening black kites silhouetted against the noontime sun. It’s mid-May, yes . . . but what century?”
I read this wonderful description of glorious Everglades National Park, by Russell Banks, this past week, and it reminded me of our own enchanting visits there! We ventured down into the Everglades several times for different reasons. Once was with a group of dear birding friends, while searching for new birds to add to our life list. We all spent a night at what was called the Flamingo Lodge, now gone after being trashed by two powerful hurricanes in 2005. Having driven over thirty miles southwest into the park from the main entrance, we ended up at the remote lodge, which even had an open air restaurant of sorts. It was as far south as you could drive in the park, and it appeared as if the mahogany water kissed the back of the hotel, filling the dark night air with delightful sounds of frogs cheeping throughout the night!
Early the next morning our crew started our hike along the Flamingo Trail in hopes of seeing . . . well Flamingos of course! Sadly we never saw the elegant pink birds, but we did see plenty of other great wildlife, including billions of mosquitoes!!! Silly us thought since we were there in January, we wouldn’t see many of the tiny bloodsuckers, but alas we were mistaken, and all felt at times during the hike, as if we would almost be carried off by the buzzing swarms!
A couple other visits to the Everglades involved gathering reference material for a project in which Wes was commissioned to illustrated a book for the Nature Conservancy on the elusive Florida Panther, called “Realm of the Panther“. We spent hours hiking, taking photos, and driving along shell dirt roads leading alongside canals, where we saw literally thousands of various bird species and numerous gators in all sizes! One road in particular had old wooden cabins built on stilts off to one side of the narrow road, which could only be reached by boat. I always entertained the idea of how exciting it would’ve been to have spent a few nights in one!
On our very first visit we quickly realized that in order to really experience the Everglades, one had to do some slough slogging, or wading through the water, appearing in many places as a river of grass, to really see the park. Although we weren’t prepared at that time to participate in much of that, it is something I hope to do someday in the future! We have so many fond memories from our time spent there with friends, visiting places that no longer exist, as well as the countless hours just the two of us spent there, hearing only the sound of the wind and calls of the birds and frogs, surrounded only by nature . . . not quite sure which century we were in either!
~ Recently Off the Easel ~
I finished my miniature painting on silk of another hummingbird I photographed while in Texas last spring. I so enjoyed watching her resting on a nearby plant, nestled between to nectar sources, hence the title “In Between Meals”.
Wes recently finished his miniature painting of an American Robin, which we saw in Tulsa, OK along the Arkansas River several years back. He also put the finishing touches on a commission of a precious horse and his little friend.
Until next time . . .