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Photo-Essay Review    

 
Okefenokee
Photographs by Lucian Niemeyer
Text by George W. Folkerts
University of Mississippi Press, 2002
Hardcover, $45.00 (192pp)
ISBN: 1-57806-409-0
 
 

The swamp of southern Georgia and northeastern Florida “trembles” as you walk on its floating land, thus giving the swamp its Native American name, Okefenokee, “trembling earth.”  It is the area that inspired the creation of the cartoon “Pogo,” Stephen Foster songs, and books of natural history. 

Two rivers find their source in the swamp.  The St. Marys River flows east to the Atlantic Ocean.  The Suwannee River weaves west to the Gulf of Mexico.  The drought of the past four years has been responsible for fires in recent years.  One still burns which was larger than the Colorado fires of 2002, but the threat to population was much smaller.  Peat fires burning underground and emitting smoke to the surface are common.  However, the lust beauty of the wetlands remains and was captured by Niemeyer’s camera. 

Niemeyer photographs show the magnificence of the cypress and water lilies that fill the swamp.  The Spanish Moss hanging from branches gives a gothic feel to the shadowed dirt roads.  The reflection of the blue sky on the water hints of the stillness of the swamp, and you can almost smell the wet dirt and life force.  From a orb weaver spider to sandhill cranes to gators are frozen in sharp images.  

Folkerts brings the photographs to life as he relates the extension history of the Okefenokee Swamp.  He adds a human aspect through his personal essays of his many trips to the region and the discoveries.  The main text reads like a naturalist journal as he explores the floral and fauna of the swamp. 

Okefenokee provides a timeline going back to 200,000,000 B.P. when the southeastern portion of the North America landmass separates from the African landmass.  A map of the swamp shows the many streams that flow through the sedentary terrain as well as man’s invasion through roads and structures. 

Lucian Niemeyer lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His books include Chesapeake Country, Long-Legged Wading Birds of the North American Wetlands, Old Order Amish, Shenandoah: Daughter of the Stars, and Where Water Meets Land

George W. Folkerts, a professor of zoology at Auburn University, has written textbooks on environmental problems and has published papers on a great variety of biological topics.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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