Report from the Glades part 1: Danielle Austen, Artist-in-Residence Everglades National Park

Arts / Article

By Danielle Austen, Artist-in-Residence Everglades National Park

There is something to be said about “ignorance is bliss”….in the previous years visiting the Everglades I had never given much thought about snakes… boy was that stupid. There are 4 poisonous snakes out here in the glades and the one to be most worried about is the Cotton Mouth Moccasin… especially since they may hold their ground and attack. And the best place to find them is right off the road where the terrain changes, which by the way is usually where I am standing and photographing. I have never spent so much time looking down when all I want to do is look up and around. But in my first week of my residency, I am happy to report I have not seen any snakes!

I have though seen my first alligator hole, up close and personal…. no gator in it at the time… and by the way, avoid these as well. I was actually on a Slough Slog. We get off road and walk right into a Cypress Dome. The Everglades sits on limestone and there are large holes in the stone where water can get deep and this allows Cypress to grow quite large… from a distance they look like islands. (and this is where gators and snakes like to hang out) This is the DRY Season….right? So February is to be one the driest months in the winter season… someone forgot to give that message to Mother Nature. Apparently it had not rained in the past two months… but it has rained on and off for the past 4 days and when it is dead grey out, it is not the most ideal for shooting, but good for a bike ride.

Here at the Everglades they have volunteers that come in and live here for the 4 month season, Dec-April. They are mostly retirees coming from the north, either with their campers or staying in the adjacent apartments right in the everglades. Really nice people… I am being fed well. (so much for the idea of loosing a few pounds this month) But my point of bringing this up is that these volunteers do many of the tours in the park… and my neighbor, Barb, took me for a private tour in the Pines and way off road into one of the parks Restoration Project areas. Here we spotted BLACK BEAR tracks. Strange as it may be, there are apparently about 5+ black bears that live out here. We think there may have also been some panther tracks… not sure though. The LIGHT changes so quickly! What I have noticed with the rainy weather this past week, is that the light changes so quickly and you can wait for an hour to get the light back. So you may be sitting in one spot, the clouds will roll in and off down the road it will be sunny! But you can’t move… once you do, the light will come back and the darn clouds will have moved down the road with you.  Me and Murphy’s Law… such a relationship we have!

It is breathtaking out here… and a little overwhelming… to much to photograph… and time is flying by quickly!

All photos by Danielle Austen.