Treasures of Corkscrew


A guide at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary assured us she has never seen an alligator climb up on the Boardwalk. Whew! That was one of the local creatures we didn’t want to see close up.


A sculpture of storks welcomes visitors to the Corkscrew. Unfortunately, this is the only stork I saw on my visit.

Silence makes the 2 1/2-mile walk through Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located in Southwest Florida somewhere near Naples, seem like a religious experience. Occasionally, you’ll hear someone whisper “Wow” in awe, or call their friend over to see the yellow rat snake or the alligator resting under the cypress tree.

But mostly, this is a walk done in silence. And what a walk it is: a trip 500 years in the making as we passed under ancient bald cypress trees that have seen five centuries.

A bird feeder draws these colorful buntings. But you have to wait patiently and then suddenly there they are.

A bird feeder draws these colorful buntings. But you have to wait patiently and then suddenly there they are.

Some of the thrills here are huge. Bald cypresses that climb hundreds of feet, some even have names. Alligators that lounge by the water’s edge.

Others are minuscule. A tiny purple flower overlooked by everyone except flower-starved northerners who don’t usually see flowers in January. A colorful bunting flitting past, a flash of red and blue that makes you stop in your tracks to watch it.

Sometimes you have to hunt for these beauties. A bittern is camouflaged as it wades in the water. But the Boston and strap ferns stretchout on all their luxuriant beauty. And there are tons of them for fern fans.

The wonder of Florida is its wild, exotic wetlands. I can’t get enough of these places: little places like the Six Mile Cypress Slough and the big and beautiful Everglades which I’ve only begin to see. Sure, I love Florida beaches from South Beach to Bunche Beach. And those places with characters named Mickey and Harry are certainly fun.

But let me in one of Florida’s wild places, and I feel as if I’ve been given a glimpse of the Garden of Eden.

ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman



3 responses to “Treasures of Corkscrew

  1. A visit to Florida gives the lie to the idea that all places are basically the same. The only flora or fauna you showed that I would be able to spot in my ecological world also is the little purple aster. I see redwood trees instead of bald cypress, diamondbacks instead of cottonmouths, poppies instead of pickerel. Come visit Northern CA sometime!

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