Adventures, Tips & Stories
"Adventure is not outside you, it is within." after Mary Ann Evans
Seeing & Looking
“Silence is the think tank of the soul.”
Water moccasin. Its name sounds like assassin. A snake to fear.
Yet this one was not moving. Curled on a stump next to the boardwalk, under a canopy of cypress, oak and pine, the serpent's stillness was a mystery. Perhaps it was shedding, sloughing its skin. One thing was clear: this silent snake was not a threat. It was quiet, and was surrounded by the consonant soundscape of the Six Mile Cypress Slough.
A slough is a place of soft, muddy ground. This one has a boardwalk over the swamp that winds through the forest. A red-bellied woodpecker, upside down, drills into a tree: Chirrr (pause)... chirrr (pause, pause, pause)... chirrrrr. As it calls, the bird's tail vibrates. Its beak moves so fast while pecking, 7 meters per second against the wood, that its head accelerates to 1,000 G's. To grasp this force and speed, a comparison helps: a dragster going from 0 to 100 in under a second only accelerates about 6 G's. The slough's canopy shelters many birds with a range of skills.
A purple gallinule walks on water, hunting in the lilies of Otter pond. Its blue, red and white colors stand out from the green lily pads. Legs dancing, the gallinule flips lily pads around like a wind surfer changing sail direction.
Taking a cue from the gallinule, Otter Pond gradually changes hues. As afternoon flows into sundown, the sky's colors grace the pond. Cottony-textured clouds, reflected, drift amid the lily pads. The blue water darkens, its surface rippled here and there by rising fish. Otter Pond's onlookers are without words. We are awakened by these rippling waters.
A little green heron calls softly. A black crested anhinga takes off. Wing beats caress the hush. If we practice our capacity to listen to her closely, the forest will expand our spirit.
A band of pink appears on the horizon above Alligator Lake. White ibis glide across the lake like airborne angels as they join the flock. They flap, stall and grip the tree branches. The water surface on Alligator Lake is still. Then, the hush is broken by a discordant racket: shotgunning cameras, a child's sulking and a ringing cell phone.
This cacophony consumes the silence, so I turn away. Walking the boardwalk, I pass by a quote attached to the railing. It is a thought Henry David Thoreau wrote long ago: “In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.”
Photos and Writings by Jim Austin Jimages