The Wild Side of the Florida Keys

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." -John Muir

One of the most unexpected and lovely parts of our trip to the Florida Keys was experiencing the wild life so up close. Josh and the kids snuck out at about six every morning and made their way to the Old Seven Mile Bridge in Pigeon Key to greet the sun.  It ended up being the sweetest golden hour, when the Keys were so still, the wildlife waking and in the hush of it all, they were able to meet so many creatures. Alligators, lizards, turtles, manatees, tarpon, pelicans....and perhaps the most memorable, the Key Deer. The white tailed deer is the smallest in all of North America and lives exclusively on the Deer Key Refuge on Big Pine Key.  Jones was mesmerized by his new friend, that he was able to get so near to even touch this wild creature was just amazing to us all! He stood over alligators approaching, and the girls spotted all the turtles beneath the bridge in the clear morning water. They have all mused many times since that ours is a family of naturalists. For all the sketching and reading and exploring we have done before, none of it compares to the gift the keys imparted: the reality of drawing close to the wild nourished our souls and gave us a glimpse into something grand.

Kristen Kill