The swoosh of the water stirred up the muddy sand as my paddle dug deep into the water. The morning sun was hiding behind the thick clouds, and the sounds of the water hit the bottom of the hollow board in a repetitious manner, like the sound of a fast ticking clock on the wall. There we were, in the middle of the vast eco system, with nothing but ourselves and thousands of little lifeforms yet to be discovered. And our only mode of transportation were 9 foot paddle boards. No cell phones. No computers.
Our paddle board guide, Pastor Eddy, had us pull over next to some mangroves. They were typical Florida mangroves to me, nothing special. Pastor Eddy asked me if I knew the difference between the three different varieties. I thought, well, for starters, I didn't know there were three different varies. I was sure that I had learned something about them at the Environmental Studies Center when I was a kid, but I could not recall.
He pointed out the black mangrove and explained the very distinct characteristics of it's root system, and it's leaf structure. I had never stopped to think about why a particular plant would possess such defining characteristics. He explained, that the black mangrove can actually filter the salty water through it's leaf and consume fresh water, leaving a salty residue deposit on the back of the leaf. What a complex system, I thought. He further explained God's design for the black mangrove within the ecosystem and how it has a specific purpose, a role in which they gather nutrients, filter it and provide nutrients for the other aquatic life.
I marveled at this. When was the last time that I had stopped to taste the salt on the back of a mangrove leaf? Ok, never. But still, I realized something. I never take the time to actually pause, appreciate and learn more about what we have in our own backyard! Thank you Pastor Eddy for the amazing guide and for the inspiration!!
Here's a photo that Jeremy took with his GoPro camera, there's a water spot over me, but I still love the story it tells: