I go to school in the middle of the Florida Everglades. I’m going to be completely honest when I say that sometimes I despise it, mostly because the heat during the summer time can be unbearable and I have a fear of snakes. However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I wake up in my dorm every morning and the first thing I see when I look out the window is sawgrass, water, and the beautiful blue sky. With every evening comes an apocalyptic sunset of oranges, yellows, greens, reds, and purples. I have seen alligators on the way to class and deer running through fields. Majestic panthers have been known to show themselves during a student’s nightly run and there is a plethora of uniquely colored insects. I have even saved a tortoise or two from being hit by a car. For a girl who grew up in a big city, it has definitely helped me appreciate nature.
The Florida Everglades is the only eco-system of its kind that ranges anywhere from swamp to pineland to the Florida Bay. It has served as inspiration for many of South Florida’s artists and craftsmen. Many people have made a living just from studying this unique network of living things. I personally use it as my color palette. I may create something completely irrelevant to the Everglades itself (like a pair of beaded earrings), but I will look to the sunset to decide on the colors. Or, I will be painting a card and use the extraordinary designs found on some of the grasshoppers as my inspiration.
If you are ever in Southwest Florida and need something to get your creative juices flowing then I recommend visiting the Corkscrew Swamp Audubon Sanctuary. On this trail you will find marvelous canopies, exquisite flowers, and a wide array of animals only found in the Everglades. There are also rangers to take you on tours. It is a great nature trail for taking your sketchbook or camera. Furthermore, there are always art and photography exhibits inspired by the Everglades.
My other favorite spot, which I highly recommend if you are on a road trip through South Florida, is the HP Williams Picnic Area on Tamiami Trail. This is also a great place for photography because you can come very close to the animals. Rather than walking on this trail you drive right by alligators sunbathing. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to snap a picture of a panther, although even the rangers have difficulty doing so.
Unfortunately, the Everglades are always involved in a constant battle against development. For this reason, the places that I just mentioned also raise awareness on how to save the Everglades as well as the endangered animals that live in this unique ecosystem. These are great spots to visit whether you need some creative inspiration or want to learn more about the area. And remember, if you are ever in the Everglades don’t forget to watch the sunset. I promise it will take your breath away.