After ten days on the Gulf Coast of South Florida, we will head north tomorrow. It has been a pleasant, relaxing visit with fabulous, mild weather, beautiful scenery and a fascinating mix of plant and animal life to observe. Nevertheless, landlubber that I am, I yearn for the interior of North America, with its more varied topography and distinct seasons. I need hills and mountains, canyons and valleys, forest and prairie, snowscapes and deserts.
Though sea coasts harbor unique vistas and wildlife, inland lakes, rivers and marshes offer a wealth of aquatic ecosystems to explore and the wide variability of Temperate Zone habitats possess a broader range of species. While Midwestern States do not entice tourists to the degree that Florida does, naturalists know that they are home to a rich diversity of landscape and wildlife; unfortunately, the majority of Americans are oblivious to that fact.
Tropical creatures that we are, most of us enjoy connecting with the tropics or sub-tropics on a regular, if infrequent, basis. Some are happy to spend their entire life in sunny, warm climes and others escape to their non-threatening environment during the dark, cold months of winter. But many of us are more attached to the seasonal gyrations and varied ecology of the Continent's interior, a nod to those adventurous souls who left Africa 80,000 years ago.