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A photographer loses himself in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve

ILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Hey, it’s hot. I mean it is really, really hot; temperatures are well into the 90s and the humidity is about the same. Sweat runs down my face just from breathing. With the hot, humid, heavy air, you need a knife to slice off a hunk of air for breathing.
I have set the stage for a walk maybe into misery. I want to take you with me on a nature trail walk in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. To be very honest with you, I am excited about the adventure of hiking into the preserve despite the heat of the August weather. Photographer George Karbus said, “Have a child spirit in our hearts and a search for adventure.”
Great Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange said, “That frame of mind that you need to make fine pictures of a very wonderful subject, you cannot do it by not being lost yourself.” She said that her mind would take her into an almost “spiritual trance” while she worked, and then after a couple of hours she would exit the trance and return to reality. I’m entering my trance with excitement for what I will discover in the nature preserve. In this trance I will not notice the heat, sweat running over my glasses, insects biting my legs, and the spiderwebs that I might walk into.
The trails are wide and well maintained. The big trees on both side of the trail shade the walkway, but completely block out any moving breeze. The walk crosses over the dike of what was a dam for a rice field before the Civil War. The field that once produced rice is now an overgrown swamp area. Trees and bushes tower over the old dam.
A well maintained wooden walkway leads deeper into the lagoon. There is an abundance of poison ivy growing on one the side railings. Someone left a handwritten sign and posted it warning hikers about the ivy. I avoid the vine. There I see a tremendous spiderweb on my right hanging over the walkway with a silver dollar size black spider with red spots sitting in the center of the web. The sun is playing behind the web, making it shine like lace. I got the photo.
There are many different varieties of grass growing in the dark water under the walkway. A turtle suns on a log, not paying any attention to me trespassing in his home as I take another photo. There is the biggest blue dragon fly that I have ever seen sitting on a single blade of grass. There is a red dragon fly a few steps away. They are helicoptering from one blade of grass to another, making my photos harder to capture. Being patient, I get a nice photo of both the blue and red flies.
I sure do hope to see an alligator in the water — at a safe distance, of course. Instead, I see round, green lily pads in the water reflecting the blue sky overhead. Each leaf has a pie-shaped slice missing from the circular leaf. There is some sort of purple flower blooming on a bush above the water. I don’t know my Lowcountry wildflowers. I don’t know its variety, but it is pretty basking in the sunlight with the dark blackness of the shade behind it. These are my subjects to photograph.
The grasses and swampiness along the trail turns into heavier trees and more shade. The wet dampness of the forest floor has patches of sun lighting red areas on the ground. The sunny spots are like polka-dots on the ground. Some photographer once said, “Nature photography is all about chasing the light and looking for the wonders of the natural world.” There is a rotting log covered with green moss catching the polka-dots of the sunlight. Ferns grow beside the log.
To my left is a yellow-orange fungus growing on the side of a tree. Resting on the fungus is a brown lizard. His head is upturned in my direction, looking at me. Then he runs away into the darkness of the swamp. I was quick enough, and I did get a photo of him before he abandoned his perch.
Well, it is time to go and end my swamp adventure. I didn’t see any alligators or any of the 200 varieties of birds I had hoped to see, but I got good photos. Is it still hot? My shirt and pants are wet from sweat, but I hardly notice.
Back at the air-conditioned car, I decide to try another part of the preserve in hopes of bird photos. After a short drive to other side of the preserve, I see an egret walking on the edge of a pool of water. It is a pretty sight with the circular patterns in the green water. The water is picking up reflected green color from the trees surrounding the pool.
Oh, I see a blue heron in the tall grass by the creek on the roadside — a big bluish-gray bird with legs so, so long. They must be 2 feet long. The wingspan must be 4-5 feet as she takes flight from me. Don’t fly, I think out loud. I only want to see you, and she was gone. Maybe she was my best photo of the day
The adventure is over for this day. It was a good day for photos and I can’t remember, was it hot today?

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