Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jungle Idol: Three Miles to Nowhere

I don't always lead tours. Part of my job is to give presentations and convince people they want to leave the beach and spend the day in the swamp. So I put on my jungle hat, grab a microphone and do my thing every Monday morning. Monday being my birthday - I gave my presentation and afterwards was praised by a very nice, well-to-do woman in her sixties who said "I can tell you love what you do and that is $&@^! cool!" OK!

As I promised myself, I took the rest of the afternoon off and headed down towards Shark Valley Slough in the middle of the Everglades to check out a spot I'd never been too. There's an old road off the main highway that's gated now and if anyone goes out there I don't know why. It reminds of a song by Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers called Hope and Madness about the resilience of nature and the ability to rebound from our ceaseless abuse - the lyrics go something like this:

Let her lead you so very far away
Where no one can reach you
Spread out wild and wander
And may everything they poison come back stronger
While the rest of us were sleeping
She sent flowers gently creeping.
And the waters slowly seeping
Through the cracks in the pavement
And the cracks in the dam
So now everything we steal away
We know someday she'll take it back again

I walked the pavement on a road to nowhere and reveled in the weeds that pushed up through asphalt the ant hills rising where cars once drove and the moon vines blanketing everything in the distance including a 20 foot tall tree of unknown species at the center of the photo. To the north by 200 miles, the Army Corps of Engineers has systematically removed 52 miles of canals and let the Kissimmee River revert to it's natural state. Along Tamiami Trail, the Department of Transportation will be lifting the road, creating a causeway and letting the water flow. And in the Picayune Strand - they are pulling up hundreds of miles of roads and canals in one of the largest (and failed) developments in US history. Eventually nature will take it back. Imagine if we ended the hostilities against her everywhere.

Near the end of my trek I stopped at a berry bush and noticed a strange shaped leaf. It twitched.And then spread it's wings - as did it's mate. It was a mating pair of Julia Heliconian butterflies - members of the longwing family. The female would fly as they mated and land not far away - hoping for a safe place to work on the next generation. This bird won't be passing along it's DNA. Nothing but feathers - the predator long gone with the tasty parts.I left my forgotten road and headed west on Tamiami Trail. By the time I made it to Shark Valley, the last Tram had departed and the final bikes were rented for the day. I walked the boardwalk and the tram road, smooth and tidy - imagining future cracks - prophesying weeds. The tourists can have their pretty park. I prefer to be off the beaten path. I liked my three miles to nowhere.


  1. So Abigail looks over my shoulder and sees Uncle Petie on the computer and asks "Why is he doing karaoke?"

  2. nice way to celebrate!!

  3. ahh there you are again in your cute little jungle outfit. So...the lady swore at you?

  4. she didn't swear at me so much as she swore in excitment which was alarming given the number of kids around.

  5. she didn't swear at me so much as she swore in excitment which was alarming given the number of kids around.

    So the lady was your little sister? I'm confused.

  6. When my sister is 60 like this woman - I would imagine she will swear in front of kids too. She does now (and that would be the youngest one Mandy)