The Everglades, that Mysterious Park

I’ve written before about my tendency to grab old guide books of the kind you’d pick up at a random visitor center from my parents’ house, and I’ve also mentioned my delight with books about lands I don’t really know.

Well, today’s entry does a bit of both.

Although I’ve lived in Miami, and been to many other places in Florida, I have no real knowledge of the Everglades. Evidently, though, my parents must have been in or around the park in the early 1980s because they grabbed the book above, Everglades – The Story Behind the Scenery by Jack de Golia. Knowing my parents, they likely grabbed this one on their visit to the Park (and they probably took me with them, but I was too young to remember, apparently).

Though the book is still in print, the version I read is the Second Printing from 1979, so much of the human impact on the Everglades that it describes is likely out of date, but the new version (pictured and linked) likely addresses this shortcoming.

But this book isn’t about the activist portion, at least not for me. The magic comes from reading about the unique geographical, hydrological and ecological attractions of the Everglades and the National Park that protects the ecosystem.

Perhaps the most important thing about this book is that it demystifies a landscape I never think about in the least, and brings it to life, creating a much richer picture in my head to fill in one of the blank spaces on my mental map.

I’ll probably keep grabbing those travel books from that old pile. They are nearly as good at transporting me to a different time and place as any novel… and I learn stuff, too.

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest novel is a romp through the Ural mountains with hungry monsters on your tail. Whether those monsters are genetically modified dinosaurs, enormous arachnids or something else, they’re all out for one thing: human blood. You can check out Test Site Horror here.

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