May in the Big Cypress Swamp
Early Rising

Early morning in the swamp. Quiet and still, no wind to rustle the leaves or blow the morning fog off a pond. Not many people get to savor this experience. It takes special effort to arise from a heavy sleep, but the effort is worth it to wander in the swamp at dawn. Before the sun hits the horizon the light is beginning to appear. The night time noises of frogs and insects are being replaced by the chirps of birds as they awaken to the light. The lingering "hoots" of owls can be heard, as the water birds of the swamps start their morning squawks. Even the pesky mosquitoes and horse flies have not awaken yet.
Its a pleasure to study the ground, looking for tracks of animals that have passed by after yesterdays evenings rain. In doing so, you notice the flowers of May, that appear in the most unlikely spots. Barren ground, in a swamp buggy trail, springs to life with young flowering plants here and there. The same seed of life, resting in the grasses of the prairie, would not germinate. Not enough light, too much competition for the nutrients that nourish a seed to life. Here in an unlikely spot they spring to life.
Big Cypress Pond Fog Early Morning
Early Morning Pond Fog
Early Morning Big Cypress Fog Colors
Color Spectrum of Early Morning Cypress Fog
The enjoyment of solitude continues as the path through the swamp brings first raccoon and then deer tracks. In the early morning dampness, the tracks look so fresh, you could almost expect the animal to still be standing in them.
As the sun reaches the horizon and begins to rise, so does the fog of the morning. This creates colors of the rainbow shining through the pine forest. Wanting to linger and savor the colorful light, but knowing that a new light show awaits just down the trail, you move on slowly.
Slow is the way to make discoveries of the swamp. Slow is the way take notice of the small secrets of the swamp. Slow is the way to get to know the Big Cypress Swamp.
If only the sun knew that slow was the way to go. Too soon the sun is high in the morning sky, the fog has risen to help make this evening rain. The wind begins to pick up and the rustle of plants and trees steal the soft sounds of the swamp. So, its time to return to camp, fresh coffee, breakfast and the camaraderie of the other outdoorsmen awaits.

Pine Tree Baby
It's been a long time coming Baby. From the remains of a logged pine tree, a small pine appears. Now this might seem like something not so unusual, but it has taken between 50 and 60 years for this to happen. The Big Cypress Swamp was logged heavily during the 1940s, all the first growth pine was cut and sent to the saw mill. No modern day practices were used, so this meant that the pine forests were not replanted. All the pines now in the Big Cypress were either to small to log back then or are second growth volunteers.
In this case it has taken over 50 years for this heart of a sawed off pine stump to decompose enough for a new seedling to take root. The heart of a pine tree is as hard as a rock and this one is no exception. Helped along by a fire from the past, enough nutrients have finally collected to support new life. So welcome to the world little baby!

Little Pine Nurtured by Ole Grandad
Logged Tree Baby
What is this?
Swamp Thing

What's This?
Now here is something you don't see every day in the Big Cypress Swamp. I don't even know what to call it. This thing is on a cypress tree, right near our camp. It is in an area around camp, that I have walked around every year that I have been going into the swamps, I just noticed this thing. I'm thinking it is something that just recently developed, but maybe I just never noticed it before.

So what is it? If you think you know, send me an email and tell what it is.

  Story by Steve June 10, 2005