Grey Skies Don't Bother Me

Driftwood pile on the IRL

It was a rare day this last weekend in Florida, full of gray drab skies and slate colored waterscapes.  A classmate and I drove out to New Smryna to check on our seagrass garden and to record some data about the transplanted quadrats, lines and stakes. 

It rained for a good part of the day and we came home soaked.  But despite the general miserableness of the conditions, I found myself really enjoying the time.  Its taken me days to figure out why I found Saturday so enchanting.  I was cold, wet, tired, surrounded by mud, and crouching or bent over the shallows the entire time.  The whole affair should have put me off research. 

I think it was the quiet.  I can’t remember the last time I was in the Lagoon and able to just enjoy it for what it is.  I wasn’t narrating its virtues, wasn’t answering questions, wasn’t bounding about the shallows chasing children and making sure everyone was safely enjoying their experience. 

It was just the two of us and the water. 

I heard egrets calling to each other from hundreds of yards away in the mangrove thickets.  I could hear the distant surf coming ashore in the Atlantic just across the barrier island. 

I could even hear a pod of bottlenose dolphin’s every breath as they came to the surface and hunted schools of fish in the deeper spots.  They were easily 300 feet away, and I could hear them make the exchange. 

From the shell mountain vantage point

Florida is unremarkably flat in terrain but here and there we have rises and hills. I took the above photograph from a human-created hill, a shell midden of oyster shells harvested by a half-forgotten tribe of Floridian natives and dumped here.  No one is sure why they created such trash heaps.  But they offer an incredible view of the narrow strip of the barrier island between the Lagoon to the left and the Atlantic to the right. 

Even from that viewpoint, everything seems to be waiting for the sun.  But its not waiting for us.  Perhaps that was the main effect I’ll carry with me from that day.  Wildlife and wild places go on even when no one is watching.  They aren’t here simply to enrich our lives.