Just a short drive from the overdeveloped madness of South Florida , is a state park called Highland Hammock. The drive and the surrounding town, are not spectacular, but as soon as you enter the park, you enter another world.
Highland Hammock is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. There are trails all around the park. And all of the trails are so different. So beautiful. So healing. There are Oak trees that are estimated to be over 1000 years old. Cypress swamps, and wildlife, we saw so much wildlife.
Some of the park feels very prehistoric. Especially the Cypress swamp. Early in the morning on a hike, I spotted a cottonmouth, a very venomous snake, swallowing a large fish. We watched in fear and amazement, as the snake unhinged its jaw, and swallowed this fish.
We camped in one of the primitive campsites. As the sunset, with the clear sky, and the new moon, the stars were bright and beautiful. I saw a shooting star. I made a wish.
The whole trip was so restorative. We hiked slowly on the trails. We gazed up at the stars. We hugged trees. I did Restorative yoga everyday, (which my son called “sleeping”), and we ate good nutritious food.
My daughter trying her hardest to do YOGA
We saw deer, pigs, hawks, osprey, owls, turtles, alligators, snakes, opossums, armadillos, and even two river otters.
Being in nature is so healing. Like a soul shower. We feel balanced.
Nature is the best teacher. We can never have enough nature.
Saturday morning, I woke up feeling tired. Even after a cup of ‘bullet coffee’, (coffee with butter, coconut oil, and a little cayenne pepper), I still felt low energy. Luckily, we had plans to go camping, and I knew some leisurely hiking would be the perfect cure. Nature is the best healer.
We packed up and headed out for what we thought would be a camping trip in the Everglades National Park. The drive down to the Everglades, into Homestead, is one of the most awful, depressing, (what have we done to the earth?), drives one can take. We listened to Harry Potter, and The Half Blood Prince on CD, and that made the drive much better.
Slowly the concrete nightmare, gave way to large commercial crops, and then the park entrance. Once inside the park, we entered a whole different world. Nature. Beauty. Quiet. Healing. Balance. MOSQUITOES…
The park doesn’t take reservations, and while the campgrounds are very rarely full, they were full. Booked, for the holiday weekend. Once again, as often in life, we had to be flexible, our plans were forced to change.
While swatting mosquitoes, and walking on a boardwalk over a swamp, we all agreed we were a little bummed but not totally devastated, that our camping trip would become a day-trip.
Winter in the Everglades, is said to be less “buggy,” but the mosquitoes were intense. Not everywhere or all the time… BUT, we could be walking quite comfortably, and out of nowhere, swarms of mosquitoes would rush out and attack us… and yes, we were all wearing repellent. We saw the sweetest (but also funniest) seeming family wearing matching mosquito suits, faces fully covered. There was a moment, where mom, dad, and kid, were all looking through there binoculars at the same time, and in the same direction, with matching clothes. 🙂
We saw Hawks and Ospreys literally EVERYWHERE. I felt the need to be very quiet and just listen and feel. As to be expected, we saw several alligators. And in Flamingo, which is the very southern part of the park, the southern tip of the Florida, we saw two manatees. Manatees are fascinating to watch (and swim with), so gentle and magic, and very different from alligators.. ..
Down in Flamingo, where we saw the manatees,. there were hundreds of birds, called Black Skimmers hanging out on a pretty shoreline, they literally skim the water when they fly, it was so beautiful to watch them. They are beautiful and VERY loud.
We stayed in the park exploring, until after sunset, and Florida sunsets really are beautiful.
Driving back, that night, we snacked on gluten free and vegan (uncooked) Smores. Dark Chocolate. Mmmmmm.. I smiled, feeling so grateful to have these moments, these memories with my kids, my family, our mother Earth.
From the Swamp to The Sea, Mother Nature, You Amaze Me.~Tiff
It has been raining heavily the past few days. The ground is saturated. The yard is flooded. The trees are happy. We found the fun, the adventure, and the joy…. A little half moon yoga pose with a full moon behind.
I woke up this morning to the sound of trees being chopped down. The land across the street is being clear cut to make way for a large Wellington mini Mansion. We have seen hawks and turtles, foxes and possums, owls and ospreys. Where will they go?
I don’t often write about all the sad and awful things that are happening in our world right now. Wars, mass shootings, environmental destruction, anger, poverty, racism, and hate. But just because I don’t write about it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it, or feel it.. Because trust me, as an empath, I feel it. There is so much chaos right now that it is hard not to feel crazy. I think we all do. How do we heal?
For me, even 10 minutes of yoga, deep breathing, a few juicy asanas, single pointed focus, can shift my mood and perspective, drastically! I can transform from a place of hopelessness and fear, to a place of strength and healing.Through breathing and being mindful. This is why I practice yoga. This is why I teach yoga, even though truth be told, anyone who teaches yoga knows, you have to do it because you love it. And I do love it. It is through inner healing, realization, and wisdom that we can create change. Sometimes while we are deep in the surrender of savasana, we truly feel and understand that all things connect.
We are at a crossroads. Strange and intense times and energy. Times of transformation. We can’t just talk about the problems, we have to start living the solution. How do we want to transform? What do we want to transform into?
My suggestion is that we tap into our higher wisdom, and transform through love, compassion, and forgiveness.
My daughter turned two last week and to celebrate, not only did we have a fun little birthday party, but we also spent two days camping and canoeing at a place called Fisheating creek.
Fisheating creek is about two hours northwest of where we live, and it is truly a wild and sacred place. This time of year, the creek is high, and I mean really high. I didn’t know what to do when we arrived and the trail I usually take was completely underwater. In my mind, I had planned out that we would be camping under some oak trees way down the trail. Well, this knee-deep water covering the trail, told me that sometimes plans change.
Anyways, it took a little while to figure out what to do..I have been camping many times at fisheating creek, but never at this time of year. This place has seasons, wet season and a dry season, and coming out at this time of year is a completely different experience.. In summer and fall, the water levels are high, sometimes extremely high, and the mosquitos, are everywhere. So are the alligators. In winter and early spring, the water level is much lower.. the mosquitos aren’t nearly as bad, and the alligators, on colder days you wont even see them.
We walked around, swatting mosquitoes, right away we saw a huge alligator and a huge black snake slither right in front of us.. My sweetheart was a little freaked out, I know he was wondering “why are we here, this wild swamp is insane.” My daughter stepped on a fire ant mound. Actually we all did. And getting bit by those tiny ants is awful. Ant bites burn and sting and hurt and itch!! It seemed like the camping trip was going to be rough..
During that time, we got a phone call from some friends who said they wanted to come and camp with us.. They were on their way.
Then we ran into a man who has a small cabin out on the creek. I had met him a few times in the past, but this trip was the first time we really talked. He is close to my age, a real country boy with a strong southern drawl, and big pick up truck.. but he is a man full of surprises, and he loves the land. To him, the swamp is home. The trees, the animals. He offered to show us some good places to camp, and invited us to camp right on his land… We went exploring with him, he had lots of stories and wisdom to share. He talked to us for hours about the seasons, the animals, and he invited us to go canoeing with him. AWESOME.
Anyways, our friends arrived and soon after, the rain began. We all ran to our cars, and took shelter as thunder roared overhead. We hung out in the safety of our cars until the thunderstorm passed.. and once safe, we made a fire. Although it was dark, it was hot outside. We didn’t need a fire to stay warm. But I needed a fire for my spirit. Feeling the energy, I danced around the fire. It was so hot, it was like a sweat lodge!
We sat around the fire, occasionally swatting mosquitoes, talking story, until our eyelids became heavy.
We woke up as the sun was rising and went on a walk… The land, the colors, the sounds, the smells, everything was so beautiful.
Then we went on a very long canoe trip out to a place called Paradise Lake. I saw some of the biggest alligators I have ever seen. And there were a few times, when they were a little too close to the canoe. Heart pounding.. but for the most part, alligators stay away from people.
My spirit felt happy. And as muddy as I was, my body felt cleansed. My Energy light.
The camping trip was completely different from what I had imagined. And even better.