There is a state park in Oviedo named the Little Big Econ State Forest. Econ stands for Econlockhatchee, the name of a 54.5 mile north-flowing blackwater tributary of the St. Johns River, the longest river in the state of Florida. I first came to this forest a couple of years ago and my first couple of experiences hiking through it was an interesting one.
If you head east from the entrance, eventually you will come across the river as it forks. In this little open and scenic area, there is a usually a sandbank. On my first visit, I came across a piece of carrion eerily laying there, as if it were an open grave. It stunk from a distance, but I’ve always been drawn to death. After snapping a photo I left.
The following weekend I returned to the same sandbank. The carrion, as expected, was gone. I thought very little of it and sat down in the same location I had last seen it. As if by cue, a tiny splash burst in the water just off the shore. I looked, and there was a catfish. I snapped a few pictures, hoping there were more catfish nearby so I could take a group shot, but it was just the one.
It was a total coincidence, but I was rather fond of the fact that both times I had come to that sandbank I had encountered a fish, one dead and one alive, in the exact location. If I were prone to fantasy I would have believed them to be the same fish, a Lazarus fish.
It’s been a while since then. Today I finally returned. Recently we have had a lot of rainy weather and the sandbank was completely submerged. I was disappointed, because I was hoping to find more catfish and revisit the experience. I had checked the water, but it was too dark and I could not get close enough for a better look without risking my feet sinking in the mud by the shoreline. So, not wanting to waste the trip or the morning light, I took a few self-portraits as I was backlit by the sun. Upon reviewing the photos, I came across one that seemed oddly appropriate (the one you see in the header).
It was me, the sun exploding over my left shoulder, with streaks of light and artifacts washing out the scene. It’s cliché—embarrassingly so—and yet I can’t help but be sentimental and like what the photo was suggesting, as lately I have been making a more concentrated effort to be more creative, adventurous and bold. It’s probably just projection, but I hope this image is an indication of a new phase in my life, one where I am as good as I yearn to be as an artist.