Friday, July 22, 2005

UPDATED Nov. 6, 2005: Bogging Through Apalachicola National Forest

Knee-deep in the watery bog of Apalachicola National Forest, I took a step back to comfort myself against a cypress tree. "Do you know what you did not do? My tall, lanky photography instructor asked. "ou did not look for water moccasins, he scolded.

Not only had I had gotten up at o-dark-thirty on a precious Sunday morning, I was now in the middle of a venomous snake-invested bog somewhere in Florida's wilderness and could be left for dead because I did not listen to what I was instructed. I squeaked out an, "Oops! Thanks for the reminder,"and allowed instructor Dr. Thomas Eads, of Apalachecology Photo Tours, to lead the way to the next Kodak moment.

Cameras dangled from our necks and tripods doubled as walking sticks as we slowly trudged through the tea-colored water. Dutifully, I remembered to always make sure my back foot was anchored before shifting my weight to my front foot, in case I stepped into a sink hole. "How many snakes have you seen here?" I hesitantly asked.

"Well, just one so far. It swam into my buddy's leg, bounced off and kept on swimming,"he casually replied.

This was good news for me and I reasoned that my odds of surviving this trip were pretty good. The chances seemed minimal of being bitten, let alone, seeing one of these dark creatures.

Having lived in Tallahassee just under a month, I was trying to take in as much as I could. Clyde Butcher is a landscape photographer whom I admire and have always heard of his photography classes through the Everglades' waters. Tallahassee-photographer Tom Eads offers a similar program.

Not only did I get to see a whole new world through the camera lense, Dr. Tom introduced me to his. With a background in biology (a doctorate, to be exact) and passion for the environment, this was no ordinary photography trip. As we cautiously walked through the bogs of the forest, he pointed out the small critters in the big ecosystem around us. He said, "it's not about saving the fuzzy, white squirel. When the fuzzy, white squirel is doing well, the surrounding environment is doing well," which indicates a healthy situation for humans.

We had briefly stopped to photograph some pitcher plants when I looked down to see a small, brown frog. Minnows swam by the frog and a half-dozen different plants surrounded the frog. All in a square-foot of land. Our photography also included capturing the colors of various Florida wildflowers and tall, stoic trees. The experience changed the phrase, "see the forest for the trees."

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