I had the lucky honor of being one of the parent chaperones selected to go on the first field trip of the year with Jasper's first grade class. We went to Cypress Gardens, a nature preserve outside of Charleston, which was fun to discover as we had not visited it yet...and we'll definitely go back as a family!
The first thing that we did upon arrival was take a swamp tour by boat. I would not say that swamps have been big on my list of beautiful places, in my mind I think of swamps as being buggy, boggy, and stale. All of my ideas about swamps were proved wrong on this tour,
Out on the water at 9am in the swamp there was life all around us, dragonflies and butterflies flitted about, birds soared over head, the inky black water was glassy still, there were no other bugs to speak of except for gigantic spiders weaving huge webs between some of the trees. Our guide explained that the blackness of the water comes from an algae that grows in swamps, this algae eats mosquito larvae, keeping the swamp mosquito free. The Cypress trees growing out of the water also secrete a sap that kills biting insects.
As our guide paddled our small boat through the water he pointed out the heads of mostly submerged shy alligators, only their eyes and the tips of their noses were visible. They were so hidden that I could not even get a good picture of them as they quickly vanished into the water once we got too close.
We were told that the most romantic scene in the movie The Notebook was filmed in this swamp, I think that even the boat full of first graders felt the romance of the spot, how could you not?
My favorite part were the water lilies that bloomed in vast stands on the water, they seemed to be everywhere, and at one point our guide picked one and passed it around our boat so that we could all have a chance to smell it. I had never smelled a water lily and had no idea that they smell so divine, sort of like Jasmine.