I sit and I ponder, attempting to come up with an inventive way to describe my memories of this day. Yet the words seem to escape me, formulating solely in a feeling of longing, a feeling of joy. A want to return to the magic that I felt while walking throughout these fields. A pale blue sky filled with clouds, white as snow. Endless fields of waist high grass, a mixture of browns and yellows and greens. Pools of water perfectly still, providing a mirror for the beauty to reflect itself off of.
Woodruff Lake reached on in the distance and life seemed to pop out of every nook and cranny. I could hear the tweets and calls of different birds accompanied by the buzzing of bugs. I close my eyes and I am there again, lost in the majesty of an escape from civilization.
I quickly found myself hanging out with a Blue Heron as it fished for a meal. It slowly crept through the grass, silently creeping up on any group of minnows it could find. I marveled at the deepness of its gaze. The piercing yellow eyes seeming to penetrate into my inner being every time it looked at me.
Without warning, it would dart its head into the water, too quick to see. The soft sound of water slapping against itself rang out into the open air, providing the only indication that anything had happened. A small minnow or frog would seem to instantly appear in its beak. Rinse repeat, a silent hunter standing above its prey.
Life could be heard all around me, just out of sight; the distinctive sound of fluttering wings blending with the quacks from a family of ducks. I searched the thick grasses attempting to get a glimpse of the show. Alas, the density was so thick that I continued on my journey and soon I found myself sitting atop an overlook tower, the perfect place to get an overview of the entire refuge. It seemed as if it stretched on forever, an endless wilderness as far as the eye could see.
I couldn’t help but entertain the thought of how areas without humans always seem to be more inviting. So much more clean and palatable. Here there was no smog, only the thick humid air of the swamp. No concrete, no trash. Only some type of life everywhere you looked.
The sun drooped lower in the sky as the air began to cool. The day would soon come to an end and a shift in the atmosphere could be felt. Birds of prey started to appear, knowing that the nocturnal animals would soon be out and about.
I looked up to see a hawk almost perfectly camouflaged in the foliage and I couldn’t stop thinking about the wonders of evolution. Over millions of years this animal had adapted to hide in plain sight, almost as if wearing an invisibility cloak. To think that this had been accomplished only through the work of the selfish gene. That simple fact continually pushes the limits of my understanding.
Down the path, near the end of my voyage, almost back at my car I was reveling in the feeling imprinted on me over the last few hours. A tranquility that made me thankful joined with a curiosity that made me think.
I gazed out in the distance and thought that something about a tree didn’t look quite right. There was a big brown splotch up in the branches. It looked like a nest, but from the distance I was at, seemed like it would have been way too big. I pulled out my 800mm to take a look.
When I put my eye up to the lens, I gasped in amazement. I couldn’t believe what I saw. On the other end was a Bald Eagle feeding a chick. It sat perched on the edge, ripping pieces of a kill off and placing them in the beak of its child, with the gentleness and care that only a parent could provide.
I peered through my glass astounded that I was able to witness this special moment and thought about all the wonderful memories I had obtained over the last few years. And to think, all it took was a willingness to search for solitude and a yearning to accumulate wisdom.
As I sit here writing this, I’m not sure if I’ve reached either of those goals. It almost seems as if the solitude I have found has been full of company from the wilderness and I have only started to accept my own ignorance opposed to finding any sort of wisdom. Then again, what does it mean to be wise?
Closest Supercharger Deltona FL 15 mi
3400 Howland Blvd, Deltona, FL 32725
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge
2045 Mud Lake Rd, De Leon Springs, FL 32130