Wilderness is a Spiritual Necessity


The Appilachicola River
I love my North Georgia Mountains but I am a child of old Florida, and by this I mean pre-Disney Florida. Pre-SeaWorld and huge hotel and entertainment complexes. I remember when Gatorland and Silver Springs were a big deal; back then, the majesty of the environment and her creatures was enough. Who knew that one day, animatronic figures and faux everything would hold more fascination than living things?

When I was a little girl, my Dad woke me up early and we drove out to this swamp about 30 minutes from our house. We sat there watching the sun through the diffused fog and as it lifted you could see the big cypress trees and oaks dark against the sky. "This is all going away" he said, and added nothing more. We sat in silence for the longest time; then he turned the key, the engine fired and we drove away. That swamp is now the Bay Hill Country Club.

Old Florida is beautifully presented by photographer Clyde Butcher:

"Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity. When my son was killed by a drunk driver it was to the wilderness that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium. The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore my soul. It was during that time, I discovered the intimate beauty of the environment.
My experience reinforced my sense of dedication to use my art form of photography as an inspiration for others to work together to save nature's places of spiritual sanctuary for future generations."
The Fakahatchee Prairie

Ghost Orchid
(The Ghost orchid is the elusive plant that the movie "Adaptation" revolves around. If you have not seen this movie, you should. It is incredible on about a thousand different levels. )

Indian Key

Fisheating Creek in Central Florida where I am from

There are no clouds in the world like Florida clouds. I have lots of Florida cloud photographs and have yet to paint them successfully. Its an untamed big sky landscape that still has a vibe of mystery to it. The last five years or so, my trips to Florida were all about seeing my Mom and never having time to look around. I plan to take a trip this winter back home to look at this landscape in solitude and quiet and hopefully I can get a few decent photos of my own. I have a sense of urgency about it, too.

I cannot look at this amazing work and not see my own bare feet standing on a dirt road, surrounded by live oaks dripping with spanish moss. The power of Clyde Butcher's art is to tug at my heart's memory and evoke a sense of longing to return to a time when the world seemed untouchable by greed and indifference.

I highly recommend a visit to Clyde Butcher's Website to see the full portfolio. It will not disappoint.


  1. Beautiful truth. Stunning photography.

  2. thank you. i needed this. xoxox

  3. faery: an inspiration to us all. Love those wide angles.

    savannah: well now, I believe you inhabit a landscape equally as mysterious and magical as this. Perhaps a trip to savannah is in order as well.

  4. Gorgeous !! I've bookmarked Clyde's site so I can return and leisurely admire his beautiful photography.

    I just finished the new novel "Swamplandia" beautifully written and set in "this" Florida. I loved the book and now amazing to have theses images replace those my imagination was trying to conjure up - it makes me continually sad to see & think of what we humans continue to do to our beautiful world and to all of the creatures in it. Boo humans!

    merci for the collage drawing LOVE
    xo S & that Gang

  5. Hi Chickory
    Fantastic Photos! And yes... Wilderness provides soul food for us creatives...

    I want a "fisheating creek" just like that one... A visit back home will be healing I think...

    Oh... and Happy Hugh Day!

  6. Love the swamp and wetlands pix.

    Reminds me of my former home in Southeast Texas. I'll post some pix in a couple of weeks...

  7. Good morning Chickory,

    Beautiful photos, the sad part is how hard it's becoming to take a shot without something manmade ruinning it.

  8. amazing photography and only knowing the POST Florida, it's nice to hear a little bit about what it was like before all of the development.

    I agree about the clouds. Mr. Boxer and I were in Disneyworld many moons ago and I took a picture of the clouds behind Cinderella's castle that were the biggest-darkest-amazing things I've ever seen. And I'm from rain country!

  9. These photos certainly capture the essence of what nature and it's glory are about. Thank you for sharing Clyde Butcher. Those clouds have a voice of their own, remarkable. xox Corrine

  10. Hi chickory,
    The title of this post caught my eye. I absolutely could not agree more, which is why I have escaped in the wild mountains and forests of BC. After living in cities until five years ago, I now cannot fathom ever returning to them. I just wrote a poem about this last night (well, a lot if my poems are about that!).
    We have similiar interests: growing things in the midst of wild growing things.

  11. takin' a garden break....

    susan: no joke. Fukushima belches out radioactive isotopes allllll daaaaay long for months and nada in the news. no worries, Mate! the ocean can take it!

    We're killing our home.

    Have you seen the movie "Adaptation?" if you havent, i bet it would be a nice bookend to your swamplandia.

    Princess: Hopefully, I will get my MCW up later today...its tough. Ive only seen one of his films.

    xl: id love to see those. I like your remembrances.

    Karl: aint that the truth. in the everglades the glow of Miami kills the stars. Im sick of it all. but what are you gonna do, other than live while youre living. i know you know.

    boxer: they rise so high and make those big thunderheads which rage in the summer afternoons. You can watch them build over the afternoon....im sure there is time lapses of that very thing somewhere. We shall have such fun examining the clouds of the mysterious landscape of Moilandia. xo

    dosfishes: neat idea -clouds have a voice of their won. thank you

    lifeincreation: welcome, welcome. im glad you came over. On the same timeframe as you i decided what really matter to me and got on with it. I wasnt going to wait until i had sacks full of money or had a job or whatever. I felt i was running out of time to enjoy living things. The horrific damages to this living organism we inhabit lives in the back of my mind. I barely recovered from the oil spill only to have Fukushima replace it and the constant knowledge that Monsanto rages on unabated playing God with plant DNA. their potential for seriously endangering everything cannot be overstated.

    peace to you, friend.

  12. Wow, they really are amazing pictures! We never get clouds like that. I'll go and have a look at the website - big skies are just what I need after today's employment law workshop!!

  13. this was MADE FOR YOU

    yes, MADE FOR YOU!


  14. wonderful photos! i understand how you feel about your home state. I feel the same way about mississippi ... and germany.

  15. I have seen the movie (twice) and loved it - especially Chris Cooper and his character. I've often thought how stunning Florida must have been before all this "now" - the high rises etc... I've stayed on the Gulf side twice. So much of the USA and it's landscape(s) is absolutely spectacular. xo S

  16. dan: sounds like just what you needed after your day. whew! Im glad you visited today!

    troll: yes it is!!! ANd this time im going to do it because there are actual judges not an internet voting thing which i dont have enough peeps to vote for me. Wow. pretty exciten. so. now i know why you dont blog anymore. youre on facebook instead. dude, friend me. i miss you.

    foamy: i know. i wanted to buy a place in florida but my dad said Id end up divorced if i did -he knew id be gone all the time and nature would take its course. When I go to my brothers rancherita im always a little envious. Its sooooo primal. my place is good too though so....mississippi i love too. I lived there 6 years.

    susan: not to mention one of the most spectacular car crashes on film ever.

  17. Thank you for the link.
    There's some Weston in it.

  18. Mighty powerful b&w’s there, Chicky, even though that landscape is unfamiliar to me. Amazing how clouds in different landscapes have a different essence. The title of your post had me reeled right in, especially as I look forward to my own wilderness escape/escapade in a little more than a week, for the “big skies” of South Dakota :)

  19. Beautiful. Right now for me, my spiritual retreat is Virginia. I hope I can move to that state and live near the Blue Ridge Mountains and the James River. It is like a glimpse of heaven.

  20. What a beautiful post and those photos are awe-inspiring. I love this memory of your dad, too. I think we might have gone to Silver Springs back in the 70's ... we went to (dare I say it) ... Mouseworld the year it opened and we did some side trips. Is SS the place with the water ski shows and girls dressed like southern belles? I think it is good to re-visit a place as an adult. And nothing makes us more of an adult than losing a parent. xoxoxo to you, Miss Chickie. Thanks for sharing this link. That last cloud photo is amazing.

  21. 63 Mago: interesting! because the comparison is with Adams, because of all the dodging and burning involved. You cannot get a sky to go that dark behind a day moon without a ton of darkroom magic. But i had forgotten Weston until you noticed - the gnarly twisty trees the most, i think. Glad you enjoyed the link - i think I am going to get his book for my dad for fathers day. I cant afford a real photograph.

    eggy: oh boy! theres a target rich experience for blogging. please take lots of photos and not just of food! but, wont that be fun -the culinary delights of the dakotas. I wish for you a soul stirring adventure.

    susan: Id love to see that too. Ive always believed heaven and hell are places/attitudes/experiences on earth. I hope you get there, and soon.

    Pam: youre talking about Cypress Gardens! It was the oldest theme park in florida -opened in 1936 and closed in 2009. It started as a botanical garden and was famous for wild water skiing babes and like you remember, southern belles decorating the lawns.

    Silver springs is the place where you ride on the river in a glass bottom boat. the spring fed rivers of central florida are really clear and are a favorite of divers. thanks for the love girl. Our project is nearly complete. xoxox

  22. Although I worked on a book on Ocala once, I haven't spent much time in any part of Florida, much less whatever wilderness is left of it. These photos really make me want to. Wow. "Moonrise" is unbelievable. I can't stop looking at it.

    Adaptation is one of my favorite movies, and one of Meryl Streep's most interesting performances.

  23. While I was not born in Florida, we moved there when I was still in grammar school. To a rented block house on a dirt road and a grove behind the last house on the left. I would perch in a tree in the afternoons, sucking sun warmed juice from tangerines and pick out images in the clouds as they began to tower into the firmament. My game was could I judge when to get out of the tree and run for home before the first fat drop splashed down. In those days you could just about set your clock by the 3pm rain.

    Awesome post.

  24. A lovely post dear chickory, yes everyone needs some wilderness for some spiritual healing ... I have so many memories of places from when I was a young girl, the swamp where we used to go rafting and collect tadpoles, it is still there and is a sanctuary for so many water birds, frogs, fish and insects ... I have taken my children there ... gosh I hope it never changes like the wide beach we used to have where my Dad and I launched the small boat that I helped him build ... the sand has almost disappeared in some places as the bay was dregded to build a new runway for the airport. Yes progress is needed but sometimes at too great a cost.
    I loved hearing about your memories and the photos are so beautiful.

    Have a good day in your piece of wilderness. :)

    xoxoxo ♡

  25. Chickie! We did both places, I am SURE. I have photos. Will be digging them out and posting soon.

  26. For B&W landscape photography, color filters are used to obtain many of those dramatic effects.

  27. I was born in Virginia and remember buttercups.I lived in Oregon and remember rain, red wood forests, jays, and black berries. Then we moved to Florida. The beach. The Sand dollars. Tiera Verde before they built cndos was wild, pristine and full of Roseate Spoonbills. We would wade out and sink into the mud to our knees and pull our legs out making farting noises in the muck and laugh and laugh until we fell down. Old Florida. I miss it. Clyde butcher is a wonder. I have always loved to see him lugging his giant equipment into the swamps and sitting and sitting for the perfect light!

  28. Chick9,
    ya know that early Floridy imagery is all the dearer right now, bittersweet after yore loss. The passing of the people and the place...

    Yore Daddy knew a thang or two--onc't Papa Cracker took me out to some fields to dove hunt when we'uns lived up in Hawg Town Creek. It seemed so far out of town, but today it has a school on it and lots of walled and named neighborhoods.

    All these photos is heartbreakin' to us long-timers. Mebbe ya could paint some of this...?

  29. I don't do Facebook. I do contests. Good luck!

  30. moi: agree with you on all fronts. I loved Meryl in Adaptation. and the moonrise reminds me of AA's over Hernandez. Ocala area is nice if you get back up in the oaky hammocks. My brother is a little north.

    fishy: what a great visual image! I know what you mean about those daily showers. enjoyed your memory of florida very much.

    dianne: ha - i seem to think that progress only happens to my sacred places. of course we all have place that have changed -and not for the better. good that some of our beloved landscapes are still intact. Arent those photos amazing? just stellar.

    pam: oh i hope you do post some vintage florida photos! find them!!

    xl: interesting!! One Clydes website he talks about burning and dodging so i figured thats how he got that incredible sky on "Moonrise".

    secret pepper person: wow!!! wow!!! what a great tale. You have seen Clyde at work. Very exciting. and i loved your memory of the mud - i know exactly what you mean. Sand dollars and spoonbills. Damn if FLorida isnt still the bird watchers grail. Whenever I would go see my Mom id go to this big lake in Orlando where there were so many kinds of birds I was blown away. Thanks for sharing your florida memory. I loved it.

    aunty: yes it is. Ive had a lot of returning memories since Mom died. I have started remembering my childhood home more. - the giant oak with a ring of azaleas around it; my parents sinking all the heavy iron furniture in the pool before the hurricane, all the dogs. Im looking forward to my florida trip - just me alone tooling around lookin at stuff. Im going to the Okefenokee too.

    troll: how do you find them? Are you entering any now? Have you ever won one? this is fascinating. Im going to do my entry for the bohemia frida next week. I know what I am going to do, and will post it. again, I thank you!!!!!

  31. Thank you so much for turning us onto Clyde's work. It's amazing how small I feel when I look at big sky pictures like this. My sad little experience with Florida clouds is limited to Sanibel Island and I have yet to do justice to their majesty. Still I have the memories of just saying "wow" at each day's new cloud offering. I wish you much joy at your explorations of Florida now.

  32. nature
    has a way
    of slapping us
    down when we get too
    far off & lost in the unnatural

    witness global warming and nature struggling to find her balance once again

    just came from the web site of nathalie (avignon in photos, south france) where today's pics are of a cute cafe next to a lovely river -- they show that reasonable & sustainable human development can work with nature -- i left a comment there to that effect


    florida is a beautiful place

    × × ×


  33. shamy: im glad you liked the work of Clyde Butcher. There is a show of his paired with the FLorida Highwaymen, another post to come on florida. The work is just breathtaking. and the black and white seems counterintuitive 'cept the colors are so vibrant one can get lost in just that and not see the forms. Thanks for the well wishes...i wont do this florida loner trip until winter. most likely december.

    /t: beautiful. thanks for the link! and werent those cherries and roses a delight as well. There is a way to live better - it doesnt have to be an anxiety fest rat race material world!

  34. What a long and winding journey that Clyde Butcher site put me on! I ended up sharing the link with another artist, a Florida artist, my sister who steeps herself in FL history. What a wonderful selection of his works you have chosen to display.
    Thank you very much.
    Love, nina

    PS: Yes, I'm late commenting, that's mostly due to wandering through Butcher's extensive site. Apologies.

  35. So beautiful.

    Thank you my darling. Just what my soul needed this morning.

  36. I, too, love the big Florida sky and the wild places. That's why I keep going back. xo, CC


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