The car thermometer read 94 over asphalt today. If I’m going to be hot, make it worth it. I’ve got ideas. Put me in the back country and erase any semblance of chronology so that a word like “Tuesday” loses its bearing and the future is what’s around the bend of a mangrove channel. There’s where the ambient heat is a lesser thing to stand.
The headwaters to the Florida Everglades start all the way up in Orlando, where Shingle Creek starts the flow of freshwater south to Florida Bay. Before the developers and the sugar plantations got to it, the massive flow moved unimpeded through a complex 8.9 million acre web of lakes, rivers, and marshes down into the mangrove estuaries of the southern coast.
The Everglades hasn’t been what it is supposed to be in over a century, since the election of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward as the state’s 19th governor, and along with that his mission to drain the Glades, starting with the New River Canal in 1906.
The National Park today consists of 1.5 million acres of protected wetlands. It’s deathly hot, bug infested, wild, dangerous, and free of the doughy tentacles of suburbia. To me, that’s beautiful.
The skilful use of the pole is an absolute necessity in work in the Everglades. The Seminole hardly knows the use of a paddle; even on salt water he poles or sails around the coast. In the Everglades the paddle is useless, and if you break a pole and have not a second one with you, you are in a very bad plight indeed…
–Hugh Laussat Willoughby, Across The Everglades, 1898