Nature Writing
DIAMONDS IF YOU'RE EARLY

November 4, 2003, Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia.

The motor hummed softly as the johnboat eased down the watery trail carved through a tangle of dense greenbrier bushes. We enjoyed sharp reflections of shrub, forest, and sky in the still water, dark from tannins released by decaying vegetation. Last night turned cold after a brief rain and remnants of a dense fog hung low in the trees and shrubs. The soft sunlight filtered through broken clouds and slowly warmed the dripping plants. A kingfisher silently flushed from its low hunting perch. The gentle breeze on my face from the slowly moving boat felt cool and fresh. As we rounded a bend, cottony puffs of fog lifted to reveal a meadow of swamp grasses and sedges. There, hundreds of spider webs spread across the meadow glistening with millions of dewdrops as if someone meticulously strung each strand with sparkling diamonds. In an hour or so the dew will evaporate and the thin silky strands of spider web will become invisible to passersby, unaware of the riches that could have been theirs.