Mid-August brings the season when streams and ponds usually run low, their waters tepid and uninspiring. Catfish sulk in the deeper holes, panfish are wary and skeins of algae form thick beds of primordial ooze. Near our coast, tall stands of knobby-kneed cypress rising stand as palace guardians, sentries to a wild, wet primitive world. Yet as a birthplace for life, these swamps stand tall.
We see the proof in enduring life forms the armored reptilian alligator, the horny beaked snapping turtle with cold beady eyes, scarcely changed since the Silurian age, both still lurking beneath scummy surfaces. Dragonflies, their unaltered kin recorded in rock fossils older than the beds of coal, still dance in erratic flight.
Gaunt-eyed, long-legged herons with their needle-sharp bills wait patiently. Shrouds of silver gray Spanish moss hang limp in these endless depths, mournful reminders of a timeless scene.
These are nursery grounds for the water snakes, still slithering out of the past, descendants of an era when their predecessors began exploratory moves toward converting their scales into flight feathers, making greats leaps in hammering out another link in the endless chain. Swamps are still the squishy foundation of life.