St. Marys Interlude: The Okefenokee

Ever wondered what one of America's most famous swamps looks like? Wonder no more.
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In the Okefenokee Swamp (James Fallows)
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When we have told people who are not from Georgia that St. Marys, where we spent time last month, adjoins the Okefenokee Swamp, the most typical reaction has been: I've always wanted to see the Okefenokee!

Same on our side. We missed it during our visits to this region during the 1970s. Last month, with prominent local citizen Wyman Westberry, we spent a day at the Okefenokee, whose Waycross entrance is not far east of St. Marys. This is how it looks.

The "blackwater" of the swamp, due to tannins leaching from the vegetation:

Although black, the water is clear and clean, and reflective, and hosts wildlife. Including this baby.

Another illustration of the reflectivity, and the general effect:

And a reflectivity gimmick:

At tree level, an infinity of Spanish moss:

From above-treetop-level, the effects of many dry years (although many of the leafless trees in the foreground are deciduous trees that had not yet leafed out):

Plus animals fictional:

And real. These were not babies. The smallest was about the same size as me.

Meanwhile, today on our partner Marketplace's broadcast, Kai Ryssdal had a very nice interview with Deb Fallows, shown here in the Okefenokee, about the subject of one of her previous posts: the complex embedded meanings of the questions you ask strangers on first being introduced. It was also the subject of a nice presentation by the Atlantic's video team, here.

So if you are wondering what the Okefenokee looks like, this gives you a start. Tomorrow, more on the complex economic ambitions of the small neighboring town of St. Marys, and how they can match the  accomplishments of its impressive county-wide high school.

 

 

 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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