The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

The Everglades: So Hard to Love;
So Hard to Forget

Caroline Poizat
IDH 4007
Fall Semester 2003
Prof.Machonis / Dr. Graham

   How come the Everglades are so hard to love? How come some people go there and come back full of mosquito bites, all disappointed and upset from their Everglades trip, while others become so involved that they cannot forget the Everglades and choose to live surrounded by them? What is it? Why do some people get it and why do others not? There sure is something. Everglades, tell me, what is your secret? Why are you so harsh with some people and so generous with others? What do you need from us? Is there a password? "Open Sesame."

   I'm the Everglades, the largest national park of Florida. I'm so unique that I do not need your love. I have too much to do to protect my people against you, humans. Why do you want me to give you something when you give me such a hard time? I lived in peace for five thousand years without you, humans. I succeeded for a long time in holding you back, away from my dear species and me. But I failed. Little by little, you have invaded and devastated my land. You have destroyed my water flow, made almost extinct some of my most precious species. I had to surrender and ask for help. I made a deal with your American government to be protected and became a national park some fifty years ago. In exchange, I had to agree to show my wonders to people who come to visit me. However, I did not forgive men so easily. You have betrayed me so many times. As for my little tree snails, you have ruined them. You have destroyed my artwork. For so many years, I was patient enough to create tree snail hammocks, all with their population of tree snails unique and beautiful. Each hammock had tree snails with a different pattern of colors. But, you, humans, have destroyed everything; your cupidity and stupidity have altered the distinctiveness of my little tree snails. Because of you, they are no longer unique.

   Nevertheless, I know that I can trust some of you as I can trust my friends the Indians. They have always showed me respect. I lived in peace with the Calusas, Ais, Jeaga, Tequestas for so many years. I helped the Seminoles when they were escaping from the White men. I can be friendly if you are worth it.

   However, I do not care about these people who come to see me with their stress and their problems. Why should I give something to these people who don't even dare to recognize how marvelous I am? They mistake me for a zoo. They do not know; they do not care. They come to see me, but they get nothing from me. I send them my precious allies, the mosquitoes. They do a pretty good job, don't you think? Sure these tourists come with their insect repellent, but they always forget some spots. And for sure my friends will bite them. When they sit down to eat their sandwiches, I ask my American crows to steal their meal. I do not need these people's love. I do not want them to come back.

   But if you come full of respect, forgetting about yourselves, I will show you my secrets. Open your heart and you will see my treasures. Sit down with me in peace, and hear my advice. I will show you how to look into things. But nothing in this world comes without cost. In order to protect myself from further deception about your race, you have to pass some little tests of my own. You have to be comfortable with my humidity and be ready to sweat. You need to be exhausted physically (paddling, slough slog...) in order to reach serenity on my land. And only then, I will show you a glimpse of heaven. If you are brave enough to struggle through my fierce sawgrass and face my armada of mosquitoes in January, you will enter a cypress dome full of orchids' blooms. If you show me your patience, you will see my purple gallinules, blue herons, egrets, roseate spoonbills, Florida panthers and other marvelous species of my own. Ask my friend Clyde Butcher. Clyde opened his heart to me after the loss of his son. To comfort him, I show him my marvels. He took my pictures from my best profile. When light, cloud, water and nature are in perfect coordination, my flatness that so many people complain about is breathtaking. Did you go to see my pictures?


   I'm magnificent, don't you think?

   You cannot buy me with your dollars. To discover me, you have to discover yourselves. Please sit with me in silence. Listen to the pig frogs, the wind blowing through the saw grass, the little birds calling for their mother. To love me is a state of mind. You have to understand Nature in order to love me. You have to be patient and willing to learn. What is your purpose in life? We all make choices. Make yours about Nature. Make the right ones and I will show you my way. You will become so close to your true self that you will be filled with disdain for your ugly world. To come to see me will be a necessity in order to clear your mind of your needless human values.

   But, be careful. When I give you my trust, don't ever betray me. Eyes are watching you from the sky. My faithful vultures will report your abuses and disobedience. Do not forget that you are not in your world, but in mine. My rules apply, not yours... If you show me disrespect, you will receive the visit of my venomous snakes and your regrets will be too late.

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