Now that I live on the Emerald Coast, I sometimes feel like my daily life is a vacation. Sure, I work eight hours a day in an office setting, but I also take my lunch breaks on the beach, and spend my off-time exploring new ecosystems that also happen to be spectacularly beautiful.
Along the coast the beaches are made up of sugar-white sand. Wind has created undulating dunes, covered with Sea Oats and other vegetation, the roots and stems of which stabilize the dunes. They not only create a unique-looking landscape, but provide nesting habitat for shorebirds and terns, plus beach mice. The water is a gorgeous blue-green, and warm for swimming.
The forests in this are are very different from the ones I explored in North Carolina. Here they are composed of saw palmetto, hickory, cedar, magnolia, red-bay, and more. Along the trails I catch glimpses of blue-green deer moss (really a type of lichen) that literally covers the ground like an odd kind of snow.
Even farther inland are the Florida springs. Freshwater bubbles up in these springs directly from underground aquifers, emerging at around 68 degrees, and absolutely clear. In some areas these springs have formed large basins that feed the river, and even 20 feet down the visibility is perfect. Below my feet I can see the cavern where the water emerges, leaves that have sunk slowly to the bottom, and the silhouettes of both large and small fishes. The blue of the water against the green of the surrounding trees and shrubs is just unreal, and reminds me of Never Never Land.
From my new home base I have already discovered so much, and as I’ve only lived here for a month it is just the beginning!