Tuesday, March 27, 2012

IF: Swamp

My dad in the swamp. Behind him is the camp house he
built. This was in April 2009 when the river was really high.
Usually we can walk around beneath the house.
I grew up in the swamp. Literally. I was raised on the banks of the Altamaha River in south Georgia, and my bedroom as a teenager overlooked the swamp and sloughs that edge and merge with the river. I truly love the swamp. And so my first thought when I saw this week's theme was that I'd do a tribute to home. But nothing came. I've even written a story about the swamp based on boat trips with my dad that I hope to eventually work into a dummy that I can submit. Still, nothing came.

Then I started thinking about the Everglades and my current home. I live in Fort Lauderdale, and for those who are unfamiliar with the history Florida's development, south Florida was literally built ON TOP of the Everglades. The land was drained and cities and roads erected, which is the direction I finally decided to take with this week's challenge.

I did this quick watercolor sketch this evening, and while I don't love everything about it (it seems dull and lacking in contrast), it was fun to break out the watercolors for myself and not in preparation for class. (Keep reading for an explanation of the drawing.)

Had to take a photo, so there's a bit of a shadow. Too late to scan. Can't wake the SO. :)

Certainly I didn't include anywhere near enough cars to represent the ridiculous amount of traffic on the roads down here (and all of these drivers appear to be staying in their own lanes), but if you've ever been to Ft. Lauderdale you might recognize a few of the buildings in they skyline (plus the Allure of the Seas, and enormous cruise ship that was just launched at Port Everglades last fall...or was it the fall before? I can't remember.)

Beneath the criss-crossing highways (there are plenty of those in reality) are a couple of Everglades residents. Sadly, this is not far from reality either. While the swamp itself is the western border of Broward County and about 20/25 minutes from downtown (so not really beneath the highways), wildlife does find its way into traffic and the city. My boyfriend and I rescued an anhinga a few weeks ago. It was stunned and wobbling across six lanes of traffic. We pulled into a parking lot, and Anthony stopped three lanes of east-bound traffic to corral the bird off the highway to a gas station where we gently secured it in a rug we had in the trunk of the car (you don't want that beak anywhere near you or your face) and took it to a wildlife rescue downtown. The price of progress I suppose. And tourism.

Oh my, sorry to get so serious. I'll stop rambling on for now. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are all having a terrific week. :) 


  1. That's an interesting and thoughtful image, so glad to have your layered explanation to go with it. I wonder what it would look like were you to add all the creatures and cars you speak of? Someone once told me the Everglades were actually a very wide river flowing south to the keys. Odd to think of that flowing down, between the buildings and all the life under the veneer of built up civilization.

  2. It really is amazing to think about. If you look at drawings of what the Everglades looked like before settlers arrived (when it was still populated only by Native Americans), it's incredible to realize that the lower half of Florida was nothing but swamp land. During the rainy season (which is near), there are a lot of flooding issues here. Nothing too bad since I've been here, but there are certain streets that you know will be under water an impassable during afternoon storms, and you just have to have your detour roads planned out.

    Now that I've put the image to paper, I really want to put a bit more thought into it and do it justice. I'm not happy at all with the quality of this sketch. I'm really glad you took the time to stop by. Thank you, your thoughts are much appreciated!

  3. Great illustration! And an interesting, yet somewhat sad story to go with it. Its always sad to see animals venture where they are in obvious danger due to shrinking habitats. Kudos to you for rescuing the bird, though!

    1. Thanks. It is indeed sad. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if we hadn't stopped.