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Wellness through nature

Nature Humbles and Connects

Dr. Lisa and I had the opportunity recently to spend a long weekend on a very remote island in the 10,000 Islands region of the Everglades along the southernmost tip of Florida. Accessible only by a 4 mile long two lane roadway connecting the island to the mainland, and claiming only several hundred occupants, this community is at the mercy of nature, vulnerable to tides, storms, tropical heat and humidity as wells global climate change. The island was excavated by Calusa Indians over 1500 years ago who built much of the land mass using mounds of shells from the surrounding Gulf of Mexico. Consequently, and due to the surrounding thousands of miles of mangrove “tunnels”, this is considered one of the most vibrant sport fishing areas in the world. The local economy depends on fishing tourism but also upon the annual stone crab crop, the season running from October to May.

While sipping my morning coffee on the rustic porch of the simple fishing shack we rented for our mini-vacation, I pondered the lives of people so completely dependent upon, and intertwined with nature. Far more dependent upon nature than we are, they possess an envious connectedness to “source”. They are humbled by their position within the vastness of the sea and in the incredibly expansive mangrove forest intertwined with it. Yet they are also proud of their heritage, their resilience, their ingenuity and work ethic. Families, many descended from the original native American inhabitants of the area, make their living fishing, running local services and even driving air boat tours through the Everglade swamps and mangroves.

While much of Florida’s coastline is over populated, over built and over commercialized, the Everglades region remains largely untouched. When visiting, one cannot avoid being impressed by the fundamental beauty of nature there, and the intrinsic character of the natives who embrace nature to survive and to thrive.

Wellness sometimes requires that we peel back the complications of our everyday, busy urban lives, drive out to the wilderness, turn off our cell phones, talk face to face with fellow humans, and take a moment to appreciate the simplicity of lives completely embraced by nature.


Dr. John Monaco

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