My Wife and I walked our dogs down by the river this afternoon, a warm February day, the sky was covered by high fleecy clouds and jet contrails. Spanish Moss, driven out of the trees by a recent winter storm had drifted up into small piles while real moss and lichen covering the ground in small scattered mounds were almost glowing from the sunny day and warm rain that had fallen a day before.
The River was dead calm, the tide was in and the still water supported rafts of vegetation, usually swirling around in the tidal flux, but now the rafts of water plants were still, almost appearing to be islands but really only ethereal floats waiting for the next tide to drive them back toward the ocean. Large dead logs along the bank, also covered by moss, seemed to reach into the water as though taking a drink while the water was high enough for them to reach.
No alligators today, I like seeing the large reptiles but while the winter has been mild even by southern standards the archosaurs are too cold sensitive to be out and active this time of year. A large Gar, an animal with even more primitive roots, could be seen hiding at the edge of a vegetation raft looking no doubt for some small bream or other fish to fill it’s ravenous maw.
As we walked the dogs, my three Basset hounds, out onto a small pier and my Wife and I were rewarded by a reflection of sky on the dark water that made the water look like a metal mirror, the clouds and jet contrails reflected in perfection on the completely still water. The swamp trees that made up the edge of the far bank, Cypresses and Water Tupelos, were reflected as well making it look like we were looking into some other world, just out of reach but real as the one we were in.
At this distance it is difficult to see the real complexity of the tidal swamp, a great many normally terrestrial trees, intolerant to growing in water take advantage of the swamp trees. They grow attached to the trunks of the swamp trees, a natural hydroponics system, the slowing rising and falling tides keeping the trees bare roots alternatively wet and dry allowing them to breath at low tide.
The Bassets, oblivious to anything that didn’t have an interesting smell, kept their noses to the ground, stopping every few feet to signal any dogs that might come by that they had been there. The three stooges, as I often call them, love to smell new things as much as I love to see new things. Their perception, not limited to smell but dominated by it as much as my perception is dominated by sight, must be an interesting way to see the world. While I am oblivious to the other dogs and animals that might have happened by recently they are as aware of them as I am of the trees and refection of the sky.
The Coast is a great place to live, natural wonders abound if you know where and how to look for them….