When the wind and thermometer join to reveal a sunny mid-winter day, its time to go wandering to rediscover some of the magic and artistry nature bestows upon our winter woods and cypress swamps.
Of the multitudes of mankind claiming this land as their home, few find the strength to venture from their nests, much less to explore the beauty found waiting to be discovered not far from their backyards.
Inland streams and coastal rivers have always been inviting gates to the silvered waterways that crisscross, merge and diverge, into ever-changing corridors. Watery trails silently flow between shorelines of knobby-kneed, towering cypress wilderness where black bear, alligator and cottonmouth seek solitude. The rattle of unseen kingfisher and lonely pileated woodpecker can be heard echoing from beside the living streams.
High in the brilliant winter heavens, the warming of the land offers uplifting thermals, where ever-watchful hungry vultures soar on wide-spread wings. It is on such warm winter days a dozing world stirs, welcoming the returning sun.
Sheltered waters reflect silver bright beneath an awakening spring-like sun. Westerly winds work the range overhead, seemingly engaged in an endless roundup, herding the wandering strays toward some distant heavenly range.
On such days, those black, turret-equipped reptiles known to most as turtles, by taxonomists as cooters or sliders, by watermen as toykels or gator bait rise from their muddy dens seeking to solar charge their batteries. Like life itself, winters recharging days are few in number and designed to be clasped as closely as golden nuggets.