The Fine Art of Dilly-Dallying

April 17, 2013 at 1:35 pm (Dragonflies and Bugs, Georgia, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Photography) (, , , , )

Water shield (aka Snot Lily because the underside is slimy)

Water shield (aka Snot Lily because the underside is slimy)

I’m the kind of person people don’t like to hike with, because I’m a dilly-dallier.  I stop for bugs, birds, flowers, snakes, whatever.  Of course, I photograph them.  It takes time to make good photographs.  Most people have no patience for that, and I don’t like to hike with impatient people.

Hooded Pitcher Plant and flower bud

Hooded Pitcher Plant and flower bud

The same for paddling.  Since coming to Okefenokee country, I have developed a love for kayaking.  Although I’ve had some nice trips with others, I’ve had to tell folks “just go on ahead – I’ll catch up”.  I also like to be out all day – sunrise to sunset, and when with others I have had to leave early because the other party needed to be somewhere.  Because of this, I prefer hiking and paddling solo.

Parrot Pitcher Plant in bloom

Parrot Pitcher Plant in bloom

I’ve perfected the fine art of dilly-dallying.  I was on the water 9-1/2 hours yesterday, paddled 15 miles, and had plenty of dilly-dally adventures (plus sore arms and pink skin).  The trip was to Okefenokee’s Bluff Lake.  I had intended to make it to the shelter 8 miles from Kingfisher Landing, but by 2 pm I told myself I would turn back (less than a mile shy of my goal) to be sure I was off the water by sunset.    Pee breaks are hard in the “land of the trembling earth” as there are few patches of solid ground, and everything is overgrown with hoorah bush and blaspheme vine (hoorah I’m out of this mess, and *#&@)(_*& thorns.)  But I managed.

Golden Trumpet Pitcher Plant

Golden Trumpet Pitcher Plant

Here’s what I did for the first five hours.  Photographed my first golden trumpet pitcher plant – and they are in bloom!  And the red-flowered parrot pitcher plant!  And a few hooded pitcher plants that are in flower.  Now, try to position yourself in the perfect spot free of grasses or branches to photograph something from a canoe or kayak.  Not easy.  I had to reposition many times.  Darned boats want to float away.

Fragrant white water lily

Fragrant white water lily

Took closeups of the fragrant white water lily flower – had to find one without bug bites in the petals.  Once there, I aimed the lens at the lilypad forktail damselflies.  Darned telephoto won’t focus close.  Reposition lens numerous times.  Autofocus has a mind of its own.  Many frames later, I’m satisfied.

Spatterdock flower - does it look like a bonnet?

Spatterdock flower – does it look like a bonnet?

Two Oke experts I know float up in a canoe.  Don shows me the bonnet worm in the spatterdock (yellow water lily).  It is the larvae of a moth that bores a hole in the petiole of the leaf, then eats its way into the stem.  Like those horrid raspberry borers I had in Maine.  Slice open the stem with your fingernail and a fat juicy worm is inside.  Toss it onto the water and it swims in “S” fashion like a snake before a fish gobbles it up.  They make excellent fishing bait.  I found one leaf that had eggs inside, and no worm.  Spatterdocks are locally known as bonnet lily, maybe because the flower resembles a bonnet?  I dunno.

Spatterdocks are most common on the swamp’s west side; fragrant white water lily reigns on the east.  Here the two meet – with both common and intermingled.

Lilypad Forktails mating

Lilypad Forktails mating

I see nobody else the whole day.  I am in Wilderness.  Most of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is designated wilderness, meaning Congress has given it protections against most activities that show the hand of man.  However, there are special provisions in Oke’s wilderness designation that allow motorboats into certain areas (generally not allowed in wilderness) and motorized trail-cutters to keep the canoe trails open.   The refuge has also built overnight platforms and day shelters in the swamp, too, since there is very little dry and stable land readily accessible.

Blue flag Iris

Blue flag Iris

When I hear loud hikers or paddlers, I tend to want to get far away from them.  I don’t like to encounter people when I’m in nature.  That’s the whole point.  To be with nature, not people.  Unless, of course, they are my friends or family, in which case us being loud doesn’t bother me.  (Insert smiley face here.)   Wilderness implies solitude, “where man is a visitor who does not remain.”  I had plenty of it yesterday in this less-traveled part of the swamp.

Sweet bay (White bay) is in the magnolia family, as you can tell by the flower

Sweet bay (White bay) is in the magnolia family, as you can tell by the flower

Despite multi-slatherings of SPF 15 sun block, my previously un-tanned skin turned a little pink.  I’m trying to get my various tan lines to disappear – the river boot marks from a January paddle.  The shoulder strap marks from the tank top.  The neckline from the binoculars strap.  Just one nice even brown hue is what I’m after.  Nevermind the doctor’s warnings – I believe the best sun defense is a good tan.

Of course there were gators.  Sometimes they were as long as the narrow canoe channel was wide - ulp!

Of course there were gators. Sometimes they were as long as the narrow canoe channel was wide – ulp!

The wind came up later in the afternoon, making the paddle harder and slower.  But I was back at the landing by 6:30.  Home by 7:30, dinner grilled cheese and cream of mushroom soup while watching “McLeod’s Daughters” on Hulu.  Tylenol for the ache, and happy thoughts for bedtime.  It was a good day.

I got it on the car and tied up all by my lil' ole self.  (Whew!)

I got it on the car and tied up all by my lil’ ole self. (Whew!)


  1. Pat said,

    Beautiful photography, Cindy. I enjoyed going along on your nature trip. You and I would not cover much space if we traveled together. I usually go alone because I like to stop and photograph anything that will fit in my lens.

  2. Cindy McIntyre said,

    Hi Pat! I see we’d be dilly-dallying soulmates. Thanks for checking out my blog.

  3. Phil Schob said,


  4. Cindy McIntyre said,

    Ha ha – I don’t think I’d make National Geographic, but I had a photo in a Sierra Club Engagement Calendar about 35 years ago. I also have some coming up in the 2014 Canyonlands National Park calendar. They’re little pix, not the big pages.

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