The changes taking place make it even more critical to treasure and nurture nature
In summer, when I have time to whittle down photos on the Mac, images turn up which I have never or only briefly seen. This year it was springtime in an industrial park. It got me thinking again about beauty.
I never tire of photographing the peninsula’s forests, cypress swamps, scrub, rivers, springs, beaches. All offer spectacular vistas filled with beautiful plants, animals, lichen, fungi, spider webs, seashells and other wonders too numerous to list. I feel as if I have hardly begun to capture the beauty of Florida, a process conservationist Aldo Leopold described as “Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive states of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
There are challenges. Constrained by fences or dense stands of saw palmetto, I long to sprout wings and sit high up in a tree to get a bird’s eye view of the terrain. But bound to the earth’s surface, I climb over roots and fallen stumps and extricate myself from thorny vines. Greenbrier is notorious for tripping up the unwary. My camera limits me to a small rectangle, a millisecond in time and available light. A cloud will put a gray wash over a landscape that seconds ago was bright with color. All I can count on is change.
When I give into serendipity, I am frequently rewarded. A bobcat crossing the road pauses long moments to look at me then melts back into the brush. As I photograph an alligator in the Fakahatchee swamp, an Eastern tiger butterfly floats in beside it. The unexpected nature of these gifts moves me deeply.
Nature has long been the province of artists. Claude Monet could have been speaking for me when he wrote, “Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad.”
Monet loved flowers, which he painted in a French garden; William Bartram, who explored Florida in the mid-1770s, drew them in the wild. Visitors have always been enchanted with this place. On what would be a cold gray day up North, a certain softness of the air fills one with visions of Paradise.
Today we are facing new challenges. The world is getting hotter. Nature is fighting back with fire and flood. Plants and animals are getting scarcer. This Florida of ours is beautiful. It is something we cannot afford to lose. It is worth our tender loving concern.