Like the rest of the meandering wild animals here in Everglades National Park, my life here is ruled by when the sun is up and when it is not. My artist quarters are within the park itself, and in a place where the driving directions involve the words "Turn left off the main road at the fruit stand," there's not a tremendous emphasis on well-lit roadways. I must slam the studio door behind me by sunset or negotiate the backcountry roads in utter darkness, and given that today a vulture slammed into my Corolla in broad daylight, I'm really not in the mood to slam into whatever there is to slam when I can't even see it coming. The Everglades sets the schedule. I just adhere to it and spray another layer of OFF.
For a Rocky Mountain girl vastly amused by signage reading "ROCK REEF PASS: ELEVATION 4 FEET", it's another planet. I've watched a sunning alligator in the undergrowth for about ten minutes before realizing that he was in fact hanging with a brotha ten feet away from him and two feet closer to me. Camo keeps you alive in these parts and I packed bright aqua tank tops.
And nothing is as it appears; fields of sawgrass are actually acres and acres of water which just happen to permit waist-high green plants and birds, and nasty tangles of mangrove swamps are heroic breaks against hurricane damage. The Everglades demand close attention, patience and shutting TFU. Which is probably why I feel under siege by this river which flows about a hundred feet a day.
Here's the thing: This part of the world pretty much dares humanity to live within it. It does not beckon with rich farmland, soaring vistas, or sweet berries, and it doesn't apologize for it, either. That which is edible either slips rapidly through the water or tastes of turpentine. The teeth on the crocodiles are sharp and so are serrated edges on the sawgrass. The mosquitoes deserve classification as weapons of mass annoyance. You will like the Everglades as it is, and if not... whatever. Go see the Grand Canyon. Won't bother the alligators none.
The glades are all fierce and fabulous like that. You must come to it. Yes sir, yes ma'am, please don't swallow me and my Corolla alive.
"I'M A DOLPHIN! YOU'RE ON A BOAT!"