After a visit to Clyde Butcher's studio, we joined one of his guides for a walk through the swam nearby that has inspired Butcher's career for decades. Butcher is known as the Ansel Adams of the Everglades. For decades he hauled a heavy 8x10 view camera into the swamp, manually making black and white images that he later printed in his darkroom in formats as large as 4 by 3 feet. Photographs that size are so much easier to produce today.
My personal expectations for a photo safari went unrealized. I'm sure Ken did better with his water proof camera. The swamp looked more ominous than picturesque to me; perhaps I’ve watched too many scary movies. I used to feel the same way about the desert, which I have grown to love after many visits. I expected the swamp to be muddy and mucky, but we walked on limestone, ancient seabeds. But the walk was not easy, because fallen tree limbs and roots lurked under the water, which was only clear enough to reveal some of them. I appreciated the walking stick our guide gave us; I would have done a face plant without it. Perhaps I might have taken more photos if I had been less preoccupied with staying upright. The water was cool and got deeper as we walked. In some spots I could have tipped over and started swimming. The water is much deeper than it normally would be this time of year. In the fall hurricanes dropped a year’s supply of rain in four days. All the clothes we wore ended up in the motor home dryer when we got back. Our guide was a plant expert. If I ever get lost in the Everglades I won’t go hungry after he showed us both the yummy and the poisonous flora. We were surprised not to see any birds and happy not to see any alligators. At our stage of life we rarely get to enjoy something new, but our swamp walk today was fun and unique and COVID-free. We were the only people on our tour.