The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

WATER DEEP,TALLEST TREE

Rowena Iliescu
IDH 4007
Journal Entry #5
November 12, 1999

"If I knew in my mind what it would look like, I wouldn't have to make it." {God and Kathy Koop discussing their work.}

To be slogging seemed to me as destructive as any air boat. I could not shrug off my culpability for any weed uprooted, or colony of single-celled organisms ground underfoot. All too personal. Not. {It was lovely and personal}. What I mean is: it is much easier to distance myself from a sense of responsibility when I am perched far above the surface of the glades on some mechanized monstrosity. When being buffeted by wind and sawgrass, it is easier to remain oblivious to the long and short term damage that airboats have on the glades. Hopefully when passing on foot I leave behind no pollutant, and hopefully the smaller range of my influence makes me less intrusive also. But the sight of lilies floating in the lines of our slogging was distressing. And it struck a chord when our ranger {is it a rule that male rangers must be handsome---this is MY journal, right?} had us spread out since slogging single file would wear a more pronounced path, one less easily repaired. I could lichen it to the damage done by clumsy Northern divers who learn in icy lakes to drag their regulators and who forget that sea water will easily bear their weight, while fragile, slow-growing coral reefs are incapable of doing so.

I have an almost daily battle with the people at my work who leave the hose running incessantly and unnecessarily. It seems the sight of me holding a horse's lead in one hand and a clamped hose in the other makes some people want to crush me. It's amazing how angry people can become, when I respond to their impatient query, that I want to help ensure that there be abundant fresh water in South Florida for their {since I be childless} grandchildren.

I run into a similar situation at the dog park, where I am a proud pooper-scooper. I don't suggest this is environmentally more friendly than leaving the poop where it falls, but it is certainly more community friendly. I save my newspaper bags which then act as rubber gloves just perfect for the grasping of the warm, soft boluses. I never initiate the conversation. I never offer a bag. The amazing thing is how many people feel the need to challenge me as I gingerly tote the fetid sack over to a garbage can. The challenge, of course, frees me to let 'er rip {no, not the bag, but my invective, and my spume}. When comes the inevitable, "Why do you bother---it's a dog park? I respond, would you let your child poop here, and not clean it up? Oh, that's different, they say. Twice I found tape worms in my dog's stool, which would have gone undiscovered had I not scooped, I now appeal to their doggie nurturing side. Oh, I LOOK at my dog's poop, I just don't pick it up, is their answer. Well, I just dislike the thought of anyone stepping in my dog's poo, is my bottom line {what spume!!}. Oh, stepping in poo is a small price to pay for the pleasure of not having to pick it up, is their rationale.

In my efforts to understand their consternation, their need to challenge things I did that have no obvious upon them, I was inspired to try my hand at a rap, which I think, sans music, is just a poem with attitude. Chikka-chikka, whop-whop...

Water Deep,Tallest Tree

If you don't like what I choose
that's okay but don't accuse
me of forcing on you my views.
Since you obviously haven't read the news
about the Everglades and how we use
rainwater that accrues
there during summer, ignorance like yours is what imbrues
our history, for which we still pay dues.
If the significance eludes
your ken while beauty there imbues
my spirit, then I guess I must excuse
you and count myself lucky. Because I am enthus-
iastic and like wading in my running shoes
through Taylor and Shark River Sloughs
while watching sunset's myriad pink and purple hues.
From days like these I receive important clues.
And I realize that zoos
are not where I would choose
to watch a gator while he stews
gets the blues, blows a fuse
coz other gators line up next to him like the faithful in their pews.
But when you're slogging through some sloughs
the reason {unlike Seaworld} is not to comfortably amuse
but rather give you cues
about why we're here, what to do, and what we stand to lose.
So you choose.


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