Yesterday, my husband and I visited a place called Cypress Swamp, which is one of the "Top 20 Natural Wonders" found along the Natchez Trace. Located on the Parkway at Milepost 122.0, just north of Jackson, Mississippi, you enter the swamp on a wooden footbridge which leads you, literally, into another world.
The trail leads you through an abandoned river channel which is home to thousands of Baldcypress and Water Tupelo trees.
Baldcypress is a long-lived, deciduous wetland species that grows along rivers, streams, and creeks, as well as in swamps with slow moving water. It can live up to 600 years old. It is a legendary tree of the Deep South known for its "knees," moss-draped crown, and buttressed trunk. It occurs in the coastal plains along the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean and north up through the Mississippi River Valley.
This is the sign that welcomes you to the Swamp:
It reads: You are entering a realm of trees, water, and reflections. Its subtle beauty and peaceful setting can soothe a tired soul. The trail is easily walked in twenty minutes, but a relaxed pace improves the likelihood of seeing wildlife. Along the way, you may experience the wonderment of discovery. Allow enough time for the magic to work.
Even though I was disappointed to see that the water level was down, it was, indeed, a magical place.
One of the first things we saw as we walked down the bridge was this little fellow sunning on a log:
I'm sure his mama and daddy were around somewhere, but we didn't see them, darn it!
As far as wildlife is concerned, here are a couple of more little guys we saw during our walk through the swamp:
I'm sure we were seen by more wildlife that was hidden in and amongst the seed on the water and the carpet of leaves on the ground.
I think one of the most interesting "natural wonders" in the swamp are the Cypress Knees. They remind me of little robed "monk-like" creatures standing silently in the shadows of the towering trees, and the expression, "other-worldly" comes to mind. Some of them even appear to have "faces" (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them, if you'd like to see them up close).
This is my favorite picture of the ones I captured yesterday. I love the way the sunlight highlights the Cypress knees ...
And look at this "Circle of Knees," which appear to be standing at attention around the Cypress tree. If our granddaughter Avery had been with us, she probably would have said they looked like they were playing Ring Around the Rosie.
All along the path, there were signs, and a line from one of them read, "Curiosity is your passport to discovery." I love that, I guess, because it appeals to my sense of always wanting to get "a closer look" at things. Here are a few things I captured up close yesterday:
I could have spent hours in that beautiful swamp exploring and discovering, and, perhaps, uncovering some of its mystical beauty. I plan to go back in two or three weeks to capture its Fall foliage, and who knows ... maybe I'll see that baby alligator's mama next time!