National Geographic : 1948 Feb
146 r;rnest inennett Irom anlamil ally news To Picture an Air Plant, the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Photographer Shinnied up a Cypress Willard Culver reaches for the camera passed up to him by the author, Andrew H. Brown. The bushy epiphyte, left, is one of thousands that bedeck trees in the western Ever glades (Plate V). In the Everglades, road and parallel canal are inseparable. To build a high way in this soggy land you dig a ditch (which fills with water as fast as you shovel it out) and throw up the exca vated rock (limestone lies everywhere just below the surface) in an embank ment to form the new roadbed. A clear, cold sunrise found us outward bound from Coot Bay on the Fish and Wildlife Service patrol boat, Osprey. We were off on a 100-mile cruise to Shark River. (Before the park took over, this section was part of the Ever glades National Wildlife Refuge.) At the launch's helm stood big, weatherbeaten Warden Barney Parker. He cants a ranger's felt on the back of his head, rests a generous paunch against the wheel, handles a revolver like one of the James brothers, and has a heart soft as a June sunrise. Even Barney has been lost in the maze of winding creeks that patterns this area. Far up Shark River, where the tranquil stream splits into two reedy branches, we hove to off the Little Ba nana Patch, a favorite camping spot for a century. Here Daniel B. Beard, then Refuge Superintendent, now Superin tendent of the Everglades National Park, and Walter Weber, wildlife painter, set up a base camp to use while Walt sketched birds in their native habitat.* A few banana trees, planted long ago by Indians, name the place. Under a vine-hung Ficus tree was a flat site for a tent (Plate I). Giant ferns gave Weber and Beard a soft foundation for the floorcloth. Leaving Weber and Beard to feather their new nest, Barney, Culver, and I whisked upstream in the outboard dinghy. A big alligator slid off a mud bank (page 172). The wind ing creek unveiled an amazing abun dance of birds. * Walter Weber's paintings of wildlife of southern Florida, with descriptive text, will ap pear in a subsequent issue of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. The National Geographic Magazine veined by blue tracery of lakes, rivers, and tidal channels. We struck out for the park area from Homestead, swaying down the narrow road towards Cape Sable, ultima Thule of mainland Florida. Roads and Canals Are "Siamese Twins"