October 23rd, 2014
By Joey Dickinson
It was a sweltering summer day with little to no cloud coverage, and we were filming a tour of South Walton with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. The tour started in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, where Park Services Specialist Jeff Talbert and Dr. Sarah Schindele pointed out a plethora of unique plants, explaining the ecology of the park, as well as the steps that are taken to maintain such a distinct and fragile natural area. Elam did most of the filming, while I dragged along behind him with a boom microphone, trying to capture what our hosts were saying, desperately trying to keep the long pole high above my head while keeping up with the camera in the intense heat. We then moved on to Grayton Beach State Park, where Park Ranger Patrick Hartsfeld met us, detailing the flora and fauna unique to the landscape. The pure-white sand bounced the sun’s massive rays back up at us as if it were a mirror. By this time my arms were about ready to give from holding the boom for so long, and we were all drenched in sweat, but this tour was so full of vital information, there was no way we could cease filming. Before long, Patrick directed everyone into what is known as the “Hobbit Hole,” a cluster of trees that the average person has to duck under to walk into. Here we were finally sheltered from the heat by the trees and shrubs. Before it was even pointed it out, I noticed a large sign with the title, “Prayer of The Woods.” I don’t know if we were recording just then or not, because my eyes were glued to the sign: “the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun,” it was too fitting. This poem, of which the author remains unknown, seemed to epitomize the coastal dune lakes, and the habitats found around them.