No matter how much I enjoy living in New York, which is indeed a lot, it has highlighted the absence of my relationship to nature that I have been missing for quite some time now. My family always showed me ways to enjoy the nature of Florida. I grew up going boating almost every weekend for many years which would include snorkeling or scuba diving as well as going on bike rides through the Everglades. As a teenager my friends and I would go to the beach at night to hang out. This is where I first started experimenting with photography. In college my connection to nature decreased which may have had something to do with moving inland to Orlando. After graduating I was working a lot and had started to have feelings of depression. It was during this time I began a close relationship with a friend who lived in a rural area outside Orlando. I would join her in walking on various trails and exploring sites that were preserved as habitats for animal life and for their special ecosystems.
When going hiking I am able to detatch from external stress and worries.You’re limited to carry bare necessities and phone signal fades out. It becomes about each step, scanning the area, leading or following, and what could be ahead down the trail. It becomes addicting to keep going! I’ve walked so far after losing track to come to the realization that I had over an hour to walk back. I always feel an excitement of what animals I could encounter or artifacts that I can find…a huge sunbathing snake, a deer sipping water from a spring, the entire vertebrae of a cow with bits of flesh left over after the vultures left…
I want to share photographs of my exploration and visitation of these sites in hopes to bring to light the sheer diversity of nature in Florida aside from its beaches.
A fine green leafy vegetation covers the surface of a swamp where these cypress trees live.
While driving on highway I-75 in the Central Northern part of the state an abrupt clearing from the usual forested areas appears. The first couple times I saw this clearing confused me and I wrote it off as habitat damage. It just didn’t seem normal as it is an extremely odd sight in Florida. After hearing someone mention Paynes Prairie as the flat savannah just before getting to Gainesville is when my interests were peaked. “Paynes Prairie is biologically, geologically, and historically unique. This park became Florida´s first state preserve in 1971 and is now designated as a National Natural Landmark. More than 20 distinct biological communities provide a rich array of habitats for wildlife and livestock, including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds.”* The area was a prehistoric lake that formed into a basin after the water began draining as a result of multiple sinkholes merging together. *Florida State Park: Paynes Prarie
This is a soft, squishy, cotton ball-like moss that grows in shaded shrub areas. It holds water and is a favorite treat of Floridian deer.
Yeah I’ve gone swimming here..
Visiting the Orlando Wetlands Park for the first time was also the last time I went hiking in Florida before moving to New York. This park is amazing for its ingenuity to use reclaimed water to create a new and vibrant ecosystem. It was one of the few times I saw more variety of major species than ever before: Egrets, Alligators, Deer, Pygmy Rattle Snake, River Otter… and I think I’m forgetting some others..
So that is the end of my presentation. Thanks for giving me a good excuse to put my pictures to therapeutic use! I always try to find a moment of peace in my day and thinking about Florida’s nature feels good to reflect upon. Goodnight.