while on vacation last week, i went for a hike with my brother in topsail state park. these kinds of adventures are best done with my bro as he is a conservation biologist. he works for the state of washington and is forever curious (clearly, my new favorite word, thanks to donna) of land and its beauty, diversity, and preservation. he then documents all of this through his camera and lense. essentially, my brother hikes through untouched areas (no paths mind you) discovering areas of land with a unique diversity of species of plants. much like the one at topsail state park. here is a description of what his job entails “Classify, inventory, and work to protect Washington’s rare and unique ecological systems; developing methods to assess the ecological integrity of Washington’s ecosystems”
if the opportunity arrises to scope out any sort of natural vegetation in a new area, joe is there. i often try and make the point to tag along, but rarely get my ass out of bed. this time, we went in the evening. the place smelled like pine, fire, and the south ( whatever that is). joe knew exactly what he wanted to find on the map and i followed his lead. we were looking for a lake, a prairie, and then the beach. at one point joe points to some brush off the path explaining his job would be to hack his way through in search of unique areas. definitely, not following the yellow brick road. i think this to be pretty cool…and brave. i also think i will generally stick to the path, considering i took home a tick with me. as much as i love being in nature, i still prefer the comfortability of safety. baby steps.
as we are walking along and joe is giving me a lesson on digital photography, the air becomes so muggy and i immediately start pouring sweat. i voice my uncomfortable state of being, and he explains there must be a water source nearby. even though i could have done without all the bugs at that moment, it was pretty neat to feel the transformation. once we get to the beach, the breeze starts to cool me down, but then we gotta hike back to the car. by the time we get there, i felt like i had just gotten out of a bikram class. i am not use to humidity anymore, as uncomfortable as it can be, i admit kind of like it.
as much as i appreciate the vegetation and land, i am also thinking about the southern culture. this muggy, hot, and intriguing area of the US. my creepy fantasies of the history and culture begin to immerse. i try to imagine living in the south before air conditioning. yikes! i suddenly have the desire to drive around in search of small southern towns looking for abandoned houses and treasures. oh, the wanderlust.
once we get to the beach, after discussing beach lavender, lichen, sand dunes, the native people, and bugs joe reminds me of the sadness of all the resorts and hotels on either side of the land we are standing on. the natural state of the beach is beautiful untouched by human construction, and then i feel guilty, because i like staying in a house situated right in front of the beach. i guess without people like joe to recognize the sacred being of land, we wouldn’t have state parks or preservations at all. so, thank god for them !
you can check out my brother’s work here.