Every time you go to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, at the northernmost part of the Everglades  there’s a very good chance of an alligator meet-and-greet. This is not an every day kind of South Florida encounter, but since there’s water everywhere, it’s never out of the realm of the possible. I’ve seen a gator near a swing set, by a stop sign, in a man made pond two minutes from my front door. I’ve heard the occasional story of an alligator that has gone through a door, a screened one, straight into a suburban kitchen. But this is because of us, because we’re here, chewing away at their habitat. Every year, there’s less of their home as we build more of our own. They don’t want anything to do with us. At least here, at Loxahatchee, there’s a kind of mutual understanding.

I did see one yesterday, pointed out by the park rangers, near the cypress swamp. It was so well hidden in the sluice that it looked more like a strip of truck tire.

But the reason I love coming here because of the distances.
I grew up in a place where the sky was pretty small. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. I don’t even understand exactly why the skies here are so huge. Maybe it’s the kind of clouds. It’s not the flatness, my hometown was as flat as it gets. But I didn’t understand what big sky meant until my first trip to New Mexico. I hadn’t experienced the idea of being able to see where you had been an hour ago, or where you were going to be an hour from then. Growing up, time and space was episodic, each block literally blocked out the next, each yard was its own self-contained stage set. You had to go out on the bay to see what was far away, out of ear shot. Maybe that’s why I worked summers on a boat.
I love how the paths here are not just trails, but turn into paint-strokes, 
or white lines pointing out possible futures. This picture reminds me of parts of the Wizard of Oz, my first favorite movie. You knew that the yellow brick road would lead you deeper into the story, but you also knew that it ended at the back of the set, a painting. The path rose up horizontally, narrowing to a point, an illusion. Maybe this one does too.
But if it’s not, and you go this way or that, there’s a future of possible stories, lined with very red sea grape and bugs and strange white marsh flowers, 
possibly leading to a cypress swamp
where the very tall moss draped trees look black from below and rock side to side and creak with exertion and the preoccupations of birds.


  1. April 2, 2013 at 8:12 am Sans!

    Amy, I can no longer look at your pictures of Florida and not relate them to how our futures may possibly be intricately linked . After my friend’s return,he’s been putting thoughts in my head about moving there.

    Where I am, the sky is also small. I look up now and instead of staring at an infinite expanse of blue, I see a skyline of buildings and trees. It is pretty too but it is a small sky.

    And you know what else we don’t have? We don’t have very many stars. I am sure in the nights of the Loxahatchee, there will be star gazing gators and humans, under that same sky, with enough space between them to co-exist peacefully.

  2. April 2, 2013 at 8:47 am Delphine

    wao, c’est beau !!!

  3. April 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm melodie

    These photos stirred something in me. As a family, we used to drive from New York to Florida every year for vacation. As many New Yorkers used to do. We visited some of my fathers brothers or sisters along the way and always ended up at his sisters in Homestead (My father is originally from Homestead). Your photos are Florida to me, and I haven’t thought about those vacations in a long time. The feeling is there, and also the smells…Thank you, these are beautiful.

  4. May 18, 2013 at 12:00 am Daydreamer

    Amy, I read this at work… and forgot to come back and say Hi! Already so long ago!
    I know you understand completely how Foreign this landscape is to my eyes! The first time I went to Florida I was surprised at the flatness of the land! And all the species are so different. Isn’t it amazing to think of the slow but inevitable transformation of my landscape into yours over the Thousand and more miles between here and there! And yet they are connected!
    I hope you are busy and well!

  5. May 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm Delphine

    Amy, where are u ? eaten by an alligator ? lost in the bayou ?

  6. May 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm Amy Gross

    No, I’m still here, no alligators, not yet! I was traveling, thinking about things, taking a little break from the computer. Still reading your blog, though, all my friends’ blogs. I started getting overwhelmed by art-making and photo-taking and blogging and just plain living out in the world all at the same time – I may have to blog much less to be able to make more artwork. I still haven’t decided what to do yet. But I’ve been loving, as always, the beautiful world you’ve been sharing, Delphine…

  7. September 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm Delphine

    We missed you.
    I adore to see your work, to read your adventures !!

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