Swamps get spooked, too
A very hydrologic Halloween

Are the swamps spooky?

To the uninitiated, “yes.”

All Ye Who Enter:
Beware!

And who could blame them, they are wooded, dark, and watery. Alligators lurk, and panthers too – but those worries are misguided: The animal you really have to watch out for are water moccasins. Not that they chase you – they won’t! Nor do they spook – they don’t! Rather, it’s because they don’t move away when they hear you approaching that causes the real fright.  If you unwittingly walk in their path, you could be surprised by a strike when you least expect it.

And yes, that could hurt.

Can you see the spider? Neither could I until it was too late.

There are giant spiders too! But even worse is a trunk-to-trunk spanning web on your face (and in your hands as you try to remove it after the fact). Is a spider there too, in my hair or crawling down my neck? It rarely the case, but the thought certainly spooks!

Then there are the Hollywood-inspired Swamp Thing and the local lore of a Skunk Ape that may have you quacking in your boots if for some reason you find yourself slogging through a knee-deep cypress dome alone at night, something I highly recommend against (i.e. see previous post).

Craggily pond apple
forests look foreboding

The truth is that humans evolved to fear the swamps. Their soggy soils are virtually uninhabitable by modern-day standards with the caveat that the natural bounty they contain is just as easily drained away by bulldozers, canals and elevated fill pads. Right by their side are the Frankensteins of the swamp, or maybe barbarians is a better term: the Maleleuca trees, Brazilian Pepper, Old World Climbing Fern, and pythons push native flora and fauna out. The truth is that swampland has been greatly misunderstood, with a twist: It’s not use that should fear the swamp …

It’s the the swamp that should fear us.

Warning: The cypress are lovely, dark and deep: Don’t get lost!

So tread lightly in a swamp near you, and trust in me whenever you do – by sun or night or nearing twilight – its liquid realm is a beautiful sight, from top to bottom and start to end, its silence is the comfort of your oldest friend.

Happy Halloween!

In the right light: Cypress aren’t so spooky after all!
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