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This scene looks as if I played games with the colors. However, this is precisely as I saw it one still morning just as the sun began to crest the horizon. If you turn your back on the glorious sunrise, this is what you see. It is a gentle quiet surreal landscape. The turquoise sky and lake are punctuated with glowing trees made rosy from the rising sun.
Orlando Wetlands Park, the man-made wetlands owned and operated by the City of Orlando in east Orange county, could be likened to central Florida's own mini-version of the Everglades, with more than 1,200 acres of marshes, prairies, swamps, lakes and hardwood hammocks, providing habitats for a spectacular array of birds, plants and wildlife.
What makes the park so unique is that the wetlands was a first-of-its-kind project when it was built by the city, in 1987, to disperse the highly-treated wastewater from the Iron Bridge Regional Water Reclamation Facility, 17 miles to the north in southern Seminole county, allowing the water to naturally filter its way back to the St. Johns River. In the quarter-century since the park was created, the wetlands have attracted an astounding assortment of marsh and wading birds, animals and reptiles, making it a must-see destination for birders and nature enthusiasts from across the region.
Because the park is comprised of 17 distinct shallow ponds, marshes and lakes, there is no noticeable current -- allowing the water, particularly on a windless morning, to be perfectly still. The resulting effect is an often surreal landscape of reflecting water that mirrors the striking vistas of cabbage palms, cypress trees and nesting birds, silhouetted by the ever-changing Florida skies.
Seventeen cells and three different communities were designed to remove excess nutrients from the water. Over 2 million aquatic plants and 200,000 trees were planted to create deep marsh, mixed marsh and hardwood swamp habitats.
The water flows into the influent structure and is then divided into three flow pathways. The water first flows into the deep marsh. The deep marsh cells are primarily monocultures of cattails or giant bulrush. From there, the water flows into the mixed marsh.
I painted this in acrylic on a gallery wrapped 24 by 36 canvas with painted edges. If you look closely, perhaps you can see the three aligators and the five birds?
June 20th, 2013
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