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Driving to St. Marks in the pre-dawn peasoup, I wondered why I got up so early for this. The fog was so dense and wet that I doubted I'd even expose my cameras to it. But I had arranged to meet Ross and I knew he'd be there. He was. We bumbled about and laughed at ourselves for an hour or so, until there was enough light to see some vague silhouettes. Not much to look at. Then a bright red poison ivy leaf caught my attention, and while studying it for a possible composition, Ross noticed the spider webs. They were numerous and loaded with water drops. I was enthralled while working one or two with my macro lens for the next hour.
As we were about to head out (earlier than usual), I saw a fish swim to the edge of the pool and beach itself. It lay there looking at me, it's blue highlights glowing with health. In only minutes, the fisheye glazed over and all color faded as the fish died. I wondered at this death, at the knowing look in the fish's eye, at the intentional beaching. I thought about whales that beach themselves, about premature fish deaths I'd seen, impaled and gasping on sharp anhinga beaks, and the circle of life that would surely include this meaty fish lying on the beach. While still squatting there by the fish, I heard a grackle call and looked up to see it on a nearby post. Despite my musings, I didn't make the connection, but as soon as I stood and made a photo of the bird, it flew down to claim the meal on the beach. The protective fog hid the bird's banquet from circling osprey and other likely party-crashers. In that moment, everything seemed right to me. I stayed and watched for a long time.
On my way home, I was feeling pretty peaceful and mindful when, all of a sudden, I saw the swamp near the Refuge entrance in a way I'd never appreciated before.
There was a stillness in the fog, everything was glistening and drippy, and the late fall colors glowed in splendor.
I wandered the length of the wetland picking out misty compositions...
and finally ended where I began... on a colorful strand of poison ivy growing on the side of a cabbage palm.
The everchanging magic of St. Marks will forever draw me in.