Pedagogy of the Plants

Archive for the ‘Paddle’ Category

Time Along Lofton Creek

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North Along Lofton Creek

Lofton Creek Cypress Tree

The towering cypress on the left occupies an eight foot diameter half a mile from Pages Dairy Road in Yulee, Florida. The oldest known cypress in the world (burned in 2012 by a meth addict) was seventeen and a half feet wide and approximately 2000 years old, so this conifer has at least a millennium on any awkward biped rowing below its baobesque branches.

Blounts Branch Trellis Lofton Creek

Blounts Branch Trellis Resurrection

New growth hints at futility.

Written by Cameron Brooks

February 27, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Fontainebleau State Park

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Fontainebleau State Park Live Oaks

Fontainebleau State Park Pond

Lake Pontchartrain

Written by Cameron Brooks

January 2, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Azure Over Emerald

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Azure Skies

Written by Cameron Brooks

January 2, 2015 at 6:41 pm

94% Humidity Over Claypit Pond

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Claypit Pond Mirror

Written by Cameron Brooks

December 7, 2014 at 9:59 am

Low Tide on the St Marys

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Low Tide at Dusk

Shrimp Boats at Dusk

White Ibis

St Marys River Sunset

Written by Cameron Brooks

December 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

November Ebb and Flow

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November Tidepool

November Tide Pool

Written by Cameron Brooks

November 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Clouds Over Coves

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Ian Marshall’s poems that accompany these photographs are from his book, Walden By Haiku.

Lake Jocassee 2

those clouds

     how they hang

          nothing like it in paintings

Lake Jocassee 3

dark now

     the wind still roars

          the waves still dash

Lake Jocassee 5

paddle strike

     the surrounding woods filled

          with circling sound

Lake Jocassee 6

a delicious evening

     the whole body

          one sense

Lake Jocassee 7

trembling circles seek the shore

     every disturbance

          smoothed away

Lake Jocassee 8

waves reflecting the sky

     a darker blue

          than the sky itself

Written by Cameron Brooks

November 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

Lake Jocassee Geology

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Lake Jocassee Geology 11

Lake Jocassee Geology 10

Lake Jocassee Geology 9

Lake Jocassee Geology 8

Lake Jocassee Geology 7

Lake Jocassee Geology 6

Lake Jocassee Geology 5

Lake Jocassee Geology 4

Lake Jocassee Geology 3

Lake Jocassee Geology 2

Lake Jocassee Geology 1

Written by Cameron Brooks

November 6, 2014 at 7:40 pm

On Spending Time Outdoors

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Wooden Sign


How do you fortify yourself?


Written by Cameron Brooks

July 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Buttonbush Pollination

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Cephalanthus occidentalis Pollination


A year ago this month I discovered a white, spherical flower growing beside a narrow creek. Seven months later I bought a used kayak, and now I meet buttonbush all the time along lakes and rivers.


Lake Hartwell Island Cephalanthus occidentalis


From Here to Blue, Orange and Green

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Big Island, Lake Hartwell


The island above wasn’t the first destination. But during that first trip to Lake Hartwell back in early May, it was the most curious.


2012 Lake Hartwell Satellite Image


Before throwing the kayak on the car and driving to the Georgia/South Carolina border, this satellite image (later doctored somewhat) offered an aerial glimpse of endless nooks to navigate. The image was captured during the 2012 drought, which is why every verdant land mass sports a tan outline.

Most public access areas around Lake Hartwell were designed and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, including the upper and lower incisors of the Pac-Man shape to the west gobbling-up islands dotting South Carolina’s shore to the east. The plan was to paddle from Long Point Recreational Area (Pac-Man’s maxillary central incisors), to Elrod Ferry (mandibular central incisors).

After an hour’s drive through pastoral Madison County, I spoke to a man sitting on a log at the water’s edge between two arched fishing poles. Pointing across azure chop, I asked, “Is that Elrod Ferry?”

“Yeah, just across there.”

“And the South Carolina border?”

“See the dam? South Carolina’s on the left. Georgia’s on the right.”

It took around forty minutes to reach Elrod Ferry. Once across, I looked back at the man on the far shore and thought, “Why not paddle across state lines for the first time on water?”


South Carolina Shore On Lake Hartwell


To the naked eye (and novice paddler), the distance between Elrod Ferry and South Carolina was a bit misleading, but clear water and tangerine shore made the trip well worth the energy.

Buttonbush sentinels (sans buttons in early May) took root around the slippery bank. I hiked inland through a stand of pine, then up toward the dam.


Lake Hartwell Project Data


Couples and extended families with panting dogs walked along the dam under blue sky. A bearded man encased in a black leather vest like a sausage below a matching wide brimmed hat prosthelytized to a group of bikers seated on granite boulders repenting and sweating in the sun. Three red tailed hawks spiraled above the strangled Savannah River below. I walked back to shore.


Savannah River


Lake Hartwell Stone Stack


After stacking, the nearest island was next.


Abandoned Goose Nest, Big Island Lake Hartwell


Former downy residents’ homes proved spring renewal.


Goose Egg Pieces on Big Island, Lake Hartwell


Shotgun Shell on Big Island, Lake Hartwell


Violent fauna left manufactured remnants.


Little Island, Lake Hartwell


Three weeks after the paddle to South Carolina, I returned to the lake and put in at Hart State Park Outdoor Recreational Area (not the most creative name, given that the county, lake, town, dam and outdoor recreational area are all named after Nancy Hart, who assasinated seven men during the American Revolution – why not “Gallows Park,” or “Whig Dump Woodlands Boat Ramp?”).

A tiny chunk of land occupied by mica, sweet gum, buttonbush and five abandoned goose eggs rests a few hundred yards from the boat ramp.


Goose Eggs on Little Island, Lake Hartwell #2


Geese, hawks, great blue herons, striped bass, crappie and bream share Lake Hartwell with drunks on jet skis, pontoon and bass boats during spring and summer months.

Let’s hope the Canadian avian couple who produced these perfect orbs seek more privacy for their babies next year.


Goose Eggs on Little Island, Lake Hartwell



Storm Clouds Over Lake Hartwell

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Lake Hartwell Storm Clouds 1


Lake Hartwell Storm Clouds 2


The Cloud Appreciation Society Certificate


Click here to watch a TED talk by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, The Cloud Appreciation Society’s founder. Keep looking skyward…


Written by Cameron Brooks

July 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Lofton Creek

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Lofton Creek Black Water Mirror


Aquatic wanderlust began developing around puberty. Oblivious to the primordial black water flow beneath Highway A1A, my friends and I started crossing the bridge over Lofton Creek in 1992. A couple older brothers with cars finally convinced us devout skaters to give surfing a go, so whenever waves broke on Amelia Island, we loaded up the surfboards at the crack of dawn and piled into Bill’s orange VW Vanagon (with the pop top camper), or Gabe’s brown Buick Station Wagon (with our favorite rear-facing “way back seat” to make faces at cars behind us). Fugazi’s “Repeater,” or Bob Marley’s “Legend” blared from open windows while we envisioned rare perfect waves at the end of the familiar 40 minute car ride. Bleary-eyed, we noticed little else along the way.

Landlocked in North Georgia now for almost two decades, I surf only a few times a year, but kayaking has become the surrogate sport. After a few hundred trips across the same bridge, Lofton Creek (not the Atlantic) was the first destination when I migrated home to the coast this summer.


Spanish Moss Covered Cypress


Paddlers slip boats down the Melton Nelson Boat Ramp into a prehistoric world (more so once out of earshot from highway traffic). Many of the haunting spanish moss draped cypress trees that give the tannic water its signature sweet tea hue are over 500 years old. Paddle north to meet a cypress that’s been growing for over 2,000 years.


Pickerel Weed Flower


Viridescent pickerelweed clumps subtly announce narrow entrances to Lofton Creek’s labyrinth (where wayward paddlers easily get lost).



Pickerelweed and Cardinal Flower


A sole cardinal flower rises above pickerelweed.


Lofton Creek Sound Cloud


Southbound, the hardwood forest gradually transitions into salt marsh soundclouds.


Mirrored Lofton Creek


Canopy submits to blue sky.

Written by Cameron Brooks

June 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias

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Ardea herodias


Click here for more views from this paddle.

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 26, 2014 at 7:32 am

Lake Chapman

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Lake Chapman Dusk


Lake Chapman Mirror


Listen to four minutes and thirty three seconds on a March evening:




Or a March morning:


Written by Cameron Brooks

April 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

Crooked River

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Crooked River Blue

Crooked River Cliff
Low Tide Oyster Bed
Shallow Tidal River

Written by Cameron Brooks

March 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Chesser Prairie

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Chesser Prairie

Written by Cameron Brooks

March 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Golden Club, Orontium aquaticum

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Orontium aquaticum

Written by Cameron Brooks

March 12, 2014 at 6:18 pm

American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis

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Young Alligator mississippiensis

Elfin River

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Elfin River

Written by Cameron Brooks

March 11, 2014 at 10:54 am