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Essays from Eden

The Essays from Eden Project is an onoing collaboration with our friend and noted writer Linda Maree. Growing out of a love of nature and a passionate commitment to engendering a deep appreciation of Florida's unique wildlife and habitat, the Essays from Eden Project is an opportunity to present, in image and in prose, an experience of beauty, awe, and delight in the wild.

We have discovered many areas that provide special insight to the natural balance that is all around us. This page highlights the beauty of nature in one particularly magical slough in the Fakahatchee Strand.

The Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve is 85,000 acres, approximately 20 miles long and 5 miles wide, and is the major drainage slough of Big Cypress Swamp, located in southwest Florida. This remote forested swamp is home to endangered animals such as Florida panthers, Everglades minks, and Florida black bear. It contains the largest strand of native royal palms and the largest concentration and variety of orchids in North America, as well as other species of extremely rare plants.
Clamshell Orchid Blossoms
Clamshell Orchid Blossoms
Encyclia cochleata

Clamshell Orchid Seed Pods
Clamshell Orchid Seed Pods
Encyclia cochleata
( The photos above were taken 5 weeks apart of the same Clamshell Orchid. First the blossoms, then the seed pods. )

Gary Nebel, Fakahatchee Strand Pat Nebel, Fakahatchee Strand PHOTOGRAPHERS' REFLECTIONS
The Fakahatchee Strand is many things; exciting, beautiful, dangerous demanding, awe-inspiring. The only thing it is not is boring. To even consider experiencing this wild place on equal (and wet) footing with the alligators and the snakes is at best daunting. This is a tough place. We crawl under and around logs and vegetation so twisted and thick that clear visibility is at times down to mere feet. However, once the water reaches our knees for the first time, a strange transformation takes place. We become at one with this place and it feels completely natural ... almost like being home. The tangled underbrush gives way to cathedral like settings filled with orchids and bromeliads. Holes in the canopy let in shafts of light that reflect in all directions from the dark tannin stained water. Five hours and we cover less than a mile. So much to see!

American Alligator
Local Resident
American Alligator
Fuzzy Wuzzy Air Plant
Fuzzy Wuzzy Air Plant
Tillandsia pruinosa
Linda Maree, Fakahatchee Strand ESSAY BY LINDA MAREE
Time slows down in the swamp. It is impossible to move quickly — and dangerous to try. Thick mud and moving water slow one's footsteps as caution does also. One does not want to hurry onto the back of an unsuspecting 8-foot gator, or into the jaws of an angry cottonmouth.

Even while being cautious, though, there is a sense of inner peace and a natural balance that would seem incongruent with the potential dangers here. Indeed, there is no real sense of danger, but a healthy respect for nature, for the creatures that share this little section of earth, and for the power and tenacity of their ability to live and survive in such a wild, and what some might call ungracious, habitat.

In this honoring, it is possible to give them their space without fear or reservation. To appreciate the opportunity to be here, to share, to learn more about this glorious ecosystem that so many living things call home.

Bios:  Gary Nebel   Pat Nebel    Linda Maree