Right behind some of the stunning beaches of Florida’s Walton County are some small lakes called “coastal dune lakes.” Apparently, this type of lake –- created by natural coastal sand dunes that act as dams to hold back freshwater streams – exists in only a handful of places in the world. They have partial and intermittent connections to the Gulf, so they’re a mix of salt and fresh water. Surrounding the Florida lakes (and covering thousands of square miles of the panhandle) are tall, spindly “tropical” pine trees (slash and longleaf pines). Around the lakeshore and in just the right light, they somehow look like a taller, watery version of the African acacia trees on the Serengeti.
Last week, I found myself wandering around some of these lakes a couple of mornings in the twilight before a 5:45a.m. sunrise (I’m great fun to vacation with!). Yes, my feet did get wet. I kept wishing for a boat or fisherman or animal of some sort (or even one of my still-sleeping nieces) to provide a real focal point for these pictures, but alas I had to make do with the striking views of the lakes, trees and morning sky.