Everglades Study Field Trip
Day 1: Monday, March 25, 2019
Phoenix School kids gathered like squawking anhingas waiting to check in for their flight to the Everglades for a week of science and adventure. Upon landing, Kyle and Jim met Mike, Barbara and 8 Phoenix kids, all Everglades experts excited to learn in the field what they had researched in school. We loaded our gear into Kyle’s truck and headed for dinner–our first adventure. Kyle led us to a food truck gathering, where we each chose a delicacy from one of the many trucks serving tasty ethnic specialties. Kyle treated us to a delicious meal and the best lemon-limeade ever before we set off to listen to the music of the Everglades.
Darkness descended well before we reached our destination so we were left wondering what lurked in the inky black that lay beyond our ribbon of road. We marveled at the sky with more stars than we can ever see in Salem. Soon we left the comfort of our cars behind and walked through the shadows to the trailhead. We felt encompassed by the velvety night as we started down the Anhinga Trail that looped just above the slough. Into the darkness we walked, one by one, alone and on our own, protected by the rails of the boardwalk, but open to the noises of the night. It was a solo-walk into the night, some of us striving to hear the Everglades speak to us, some of us more wary than others. Let snippets from our journals describe the lure of the glades we all felt.
Emma: I stand looking out at the still water, unable to fully comprehend what I’m seeing. It’s eerie, being here by myself, in this slough devoid of human touch. I never knew how loud the night could be until now. It’s an orchestra of birds and insects; everyone has a place in the choir. I can hear the balance of nature around me, and though it’s loud, it’s also quiet and tranquil.
Quentin: Standing in the moonlight, I looked out at the shimmering waters of the Everglades. I closed my eyes and listened to the symphonic cacophony of the night animals. My nose was flooded with the scent of brackish water and flowering plants. The Everglades delighted all my senses.
Lucas: A forest of calm is unbroken by voices and preserved for me to walk alone inside. I can barely differentiate the trees from the wooden path in this monochrome landscape. The Big Dipper almost illuminates alligator filled water that refuses to be pierced due to the endless nightscape’s grasp on the trail.
Julia: Mosquitos haunt my ears as the boardwalk in front of me curves into the mysterious dark. Unexpected splashes sound on each side of me. Shimmering stars from vibrant to dim guide me with their light. Dark calming night surrounds me in comfort and life.
James: Fish aggressively slap their tails on the water’s surface, sending shivers up my back. Tall grass gracefully sways to the song of the crickets making me want to join in. The illuminated moon shines above, looking down at this hidden treasure. I feel lost, but in no hurry to find myself.
Arianna: Mosquitos bit my arms and legs as I walked along the bridge. My mind was out of control thinking about a million things at once. I walked slowly and breathed in and out. Eventually I calmed down. I tried not to think of any alligators coming my way.
Raya: Two paths, two different directions. Guided by the stars and fate, my path is chosen. Boards creak under my feet making me extra aware. Shadowed spots that lay before me send shivers all through me. Heart racing, I fear the worst. Hopefully answers are in the stars. With my gaze tilted upward, I finally feel safe.
Ella: I begin my trek down the long looped boardwalk. My ears tingle at the sound of swishes and splashes below in the murky water. Two eyes and a snout rise barely above the surface. Everything around it becomes blurry as my eyes only focus on the prehistoric creature that rules the slough.
No one wanted to leave the slough so Mike, Kyle, and Jim lit up the waters with their flashlights, revealing jumping fish, cruising gators and pairs of yellow or red eyes flickering from the darkness. Eventually we had to concede that tomorrow would be coming too soon, so we packed it in and headed for our youth hostel. We all earned an extra hour or so of sleeping in.
Brackish water fills my shoe, saturating my sock, as I take my first step. In the distance a lone bobcat cries out, sending fear through my body. Another step causes me to slightly sink in the slick mud. Fear sinks to the bottom of my stomach. Just let me not come face to face with the mouth of an alligator! I keep moving forward making my way through the cloudy water. Mangroves tower over me, blocking out the majority of the sunlight. It’s been a dream of mine to be in the presence of these swamp trees. Every step sends fear through my veins. I take one more and I fall backwards. My instincts kick in and my hand grabs onto a mangrove branch. I always knew my leafy friend would save me one day! After that encounter, nothing can shake me!Everglades AnticipationRaya ~ 8th Grade
Posted by The Phoenix School, Salem, MA on Tuesday, March 26, 2019