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With Florida’s population growing astronomically, acres of wetlands and flood plains are being filled in on a daily basis. The destruction of these functional systems disrupts the natural flow and filtration of rainwater. Swamps, marshes and flood plains absorb excess water and filter out impurities from runoff. In exchange for these natural systems, local and state governments have given the people of Florida retention ponds. While these ponds filter runoff and absorb floodwater, they fail miserably at imitating nature’s aesthetics and sustaining a diverse ecosystem.

For many, nature is a place to explore and to contemplate. Writers and artists have dealt with these themes throughout the ages, especially since the growth of urbanization and industrialization. Continuing in this tradition, I wanted to escape civilization and explore the unfamiliar. I had no desire to retreat to a wilderness area; I wanted to survey nature’s replacements. So for two years, I lived alone, around different retention ponds and their connecting rivers in North Central Florida. I lived with only the essential facts of life and tried to learn what life had to teach as Henry David Thoreau did more than a hundred years before me.