Thursday, February 10, 2011
As we looked and took in all that Viera had to give us, we relaxed. We moved from one beautiful thing to the next. We all fell into the moment, let it stretch to hours, and didn't want it ever to end.
Phoebe found a pile of coot feathers, and the hunt was on to nail the murderer. For certainly it was premeditated.
Webb is an ex-cop, and he launched an investigation.
Figuring the coot was nabbed down by the water, he quickly found fresh pugmarks of a bobcat.
He'd had his suspicions anyway. He didn't think a raccoon would be quick enough to grab a coot.
The coot's wing feathers had saliva on them and looked chewed on, consistent with mammalian predation. An avian predator will bend wing feathers with its beak, but leave no saliva or fraying.
It was fun to puzzle out a natural mystery with a real live cop, one who taught crime scene photography, among other things. Webb doesn't miss much. He kept pointing out gators to Liam, for which Shoom will be forever grateful.
Viera Wetlands is actually a water treatment facility, though you might not know it to look at the carefully managed vegetation in the impoundments. It has to be the most beautiful turd tumbler I've ever seen. A destination all of its own. And the management is to be congratulated for encouraging birders by maintaining nice diketop roads and making it accessible to us.
The vegetation acts as a huge biofilter for the sewage, and the air is sweet and the birds are well-fed and healthy. Each impoundment has different chemistry and ecology, and it's fascinating to see.
And yet...A native Floridian I spoke with said, "I won't go there. I hate what's happened to Viera. You think it's beautiful now. You should have seen what was there before they made it into a sewage treatment facility." And this is the paradox that is Florida. People are always mourning what was there before the now. I understand, being one who remembers the before in my own region, and took her comments as sincerely as they were meant. I was glad I didn't know that when I visited. I was taken in by the birds and the marshes, and I hadn't stopped to think about what might have been replaced. Viera itself is bloated with strip malls, pavement, golf courses and planned communities, and there has to be a place for all that waste, doesn't there?
I will say this. Viera Wetlands is a spectacular bit of environmental mitigation. But mitigation it is, and I am glad there are those who still remember that, who treasure their memories of before. Head in hands, deep cleansing breath. Forge on. It is what it is...