THE LOWER SUWANNEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Just as our plane was scheduled to take off from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on a cold late January evening, a front moved in bringing a squall of snow to the region. Immediately, departure times were pushed back, and the de-icing of planes began. Our plane’s wing had icicles hanging off it when we boarded. The runway had to be cleared and the wind was blowing cold arctic air down from the north. Â Eventually we did manage to take off into the oily darkness heading due south, as fast as reasonably possible. We flew over Baltimore and D.C., and then eventually we could see the lights of Savannah Georgia and then Jacksonville Florida as we descended towards our destination of Tampa, Florida. The night sky opened up to the land as we neared Orlando, and then suddenly the full Moon made its appearance, not from the sky but from earth below!
The brightly lit image of the entire full moon was flashing every few seconds, each time we passed over one of the many circular, central Florida lakes. Â It was as if the Moon was jumping from lake to lake to lake!
What a grand entrance we made into the state of Florida!
Several hours drive north of Tampa brings us to one of the most remote parts of Florida. A beautiful place to suddenly be! Green, warm, sunny and with blooming flowers! This is a disorienting experience (without the Jet lag), to go from the frigid winter of the Northeast to a quiet early Spring in this Hardwood Bottomland Forest along The Suwannee River. Â This Native blooming twining vine, the Carolina Jasmine, was growing all along the sides of the highways and in openings in the forests. The yellow blooming flowers of the fragrant Gelsemium sempervirens, growing along the path that led us towards the Â Hardwood Bottomlands created an enchanting springtime mood for our walk.
Here is the Forest!
This is the mud turtle we met up with.
Bluets, blooming away.
Here is a great view of the Bottomland Forest with the Suwannee in the backround.
This, a drier site, near the road that led in to the forest.
Driving for miles and miles through these forests on the way to Cedar Key, where we stayed, we passed blooming redbuds, many a blooming patch of Carolina Jasmine, Red Maples and stands of Bald Cypress. Turkey Vultures often swooped overhead.
One balmy evening we took a walk in the bright Â Florida moonlight.