Saturday, December 23, 2017


It occurred to me recently that I have been walking my various dogs in mangroves for years. This year Hurricane Irma brought home how resilient these wiry little bushes are. They grow in mud, on rocks, out of seawater and they bud green leaves and 140 mph winds mean nothing to them. 
 Nowadays behind the wall of green isolated houses on stilts can be seen here and there, looking like islands, but actually planted on roads through the scrub land that I am pleased to describes as "woods" for want of a better term.
This stuff is absolute  hell to walk through as there is often a layer of seawater underneath the canopy, and the roots  are twisted like the most inextricable maze you have ever seen and putting a foot down is impossible. Rusty has little difficulty though. I walk the trail and he keeps up sniffing this way and that.
I follow tracks and trails where I find them, and you can see why waterproof mud proof footwear is a good idea. Sometimes its puddled rainwater and sometimes the water is the effect of high tides. But the land here is so flat that water spreads everywhere and easily too.
One thing about these mangrove swamps is that there is not much variation and the views stretch only as far as your eyes are above the leaves. There are no valleys or hills, no tall copses or burbling streams. The view is uniform.
For me the mangroves are a quiet retreat. I almost never see anyone out here though sometimes a cyclist follows a trail and I have met people camping and even some people romping four wheel drive vehicles on the trails. Rusty and I take only pictures and leave only footprints in these places. 
Like so much of Florida the back country here is rather delicate and understated and for those seeking granite cliffs and cathedrals of trees this stuff is pretty barren. In some ways it resembles heather on a hillside or a green desert, a place where the wind whistles past your ears filling the silence with silent noise. 
 Florida's beauty I have always said is subtle.
 Unless you are a dog and can enjoy the chance to come and go as you please through the mangroves.

 I have a thoughtful dog. He puts me to shame sometimes as I imagine him thinking back to the gruesome start he had in life. Not many humans would be as cheerful and compliant and easy going as Rusty after his troubled start.