Okefenokee May Is Beautiful, But You’ll Need to Remember Your Swamp Manners

The last of the missing Easter eggs has been located under a sofa pillow, and the egg salad sandwiches have long since disappeared. Spring is moving quickly this year, so quickly that the month of May has taken us almost by surprise.

May is one of my favorite times of year. The sun is warm, but not yet hot. The Swamp hums with new life and honey bees. The Satilla and the Saint Mary’s Rivers reflect a Monet-worthy landscape of curved tree roots, Spanish moss, and wildflowers. The Tupelo and Laurel Bay add a sweetness to the air, and the skies are never a brighter shade of blue than right now.

At the Lodge, we keep our eyes peeled for any sign of animal babies. There’s the dappled fawn that follows her mother on dew-laden grass across the horse pasture. Or the young squirrels chasing one another’s tails while being scolded by their mothers.

Too, the lightning bugs resembling fairies at play twinkle at dusk among the palmettos.

A few years back, the New York Times sent a writer down here to canoe the swamp. They do that about every 10 or 15 years. The Okefenokee may not be as well known as the Louisiana bayous or the Florida Everglades, but in my humble opinion, it’s 100 times more beautiful. But don’t take my word for it. You’ll want to judge for yourself!

If you do go canoeing – which you’ll be tempted to do in this weather – just be certain to keep your hands inside the boat. Don’t be tempted to rinse off your hands in the silent water. Because the truth is, those still waters run deep. Alligators can smell you and your lunch coming from a mile away. A young, hungry gator could very well be sitting underneath your boat waiting for you to forget your swamp manners and reach out a hand.

Same goes for swimming. You don’t want to go swimming in the swamp, and don’t let your dog run about, either. Alligators will find either option whets their appetites in the right circumstances.

When it comes to alligators, it’s important to be respectful of their wallows and nests. You know that song, “Never Smile at a Crocodile?” Well, the same is true of mother alligators. Don’t look them in the eye, and don’t wait around if you do.

Not long after that New York Times article came out, my niece and her significant other decided to go canoeing. The pair accidentally happened upon a Mama alligator on her nest when rounding a bend up from King’s Landing. The outraged Mama bumped the canoe from underneath, then turned on a dime and snapped her jaws in warning. She put her snout right in my niece’s face, so close that she felt the air move and spittle hit her cheeks.

Do you reckon they paddled fast enough in the opposite direction? You’d be right!

Those of you who want to spend a day in the swamp will relish this beautiful time of year. And those who’d rather not can kick back in rustic style and sip homemade lemonade on the front porch and listen to the woodpeckers tap happily away at breakfast. Or that’s how we do things around here. Come on by, and we’ll show you.