True Stories from the Okefenokee Swamp
Through a naturalist’s eye, Swamp Goddess introduces armchair adventurers to the incredible wonders of the incomparable Okefenokee Swamp, a vast natural wilderness in southeast Georgia. Humorous antics of brave souls who join the author on overnight expeditions reveal the indomitable adventurous human spirit even in the face of virulent weather, unpredictable fauna and insectivorous plants.
Kirkus Reviews Loved Swamp Goddess
“In this debut memoir, TV documentary producer Sakas spins yarns from her years paddling through one of America’s great wetlands.
The great Okefenokee Swamp covers 700 square miles along the Georgia-Florida border. Its tannin-rich waters are known for their high acidity and tea-black color, and the slow, warm waterways are a favorite destination for kayakers year-round. For decades, Sakas has led tourists on multiday excursions into the vast wetlands, navigating its majestic cypress groves and pine islands. This book offers a bit of that experience to those who’ve never booked a tour with her: “My intent is to help the reader experience the exquisite greatness and small magical wonders this incredible wilderness holds,” she writes in her preface. For instance, she tells of a visitor in 1983 who, at 6 feet, 9 inches, was too tall for his tent; as he slept, his uncovered head attracted a bobcat, who cuddled against it and fell asleep, leading to a very rude awakening. She also tells of the time that she and her companions accidentally incurred the wrath of a territorial mother alligator, who pursued them over multiple days. Many stories are about the unusual ways people interact in nature, as in a late-night heart-to-heart among four older women in 2007, during which one admitted to eating her cremated husband’s ashes. Sakas writes with energy and enthusiasm throughout, as when she describes the breakneck escape from the aforementioned alligator: “I am positive we could have stroked a Harvard rowboat team. We paddled intently, in unison. We had only one goal. Get past momma. I looked back in time to see momma make one last mighty lunge in renewed effort and even greater determination than before.” The text is accompanied by dozens of full-color photographs of the swamp and various people mentioned in the stories. The anecdotal book has the feel of a good travel blog, although readers with a particular interest in the Okefenokee are likely to enjoy it most.
A spirited remembrance from a nature-loving guide.”
Look inside the book:
Cathy’s lifelong romance with our Ocean began on Virginia’s southern Chesapeake Bay. Since 1976, armed with a B.S. in Biology and M.Ed. in Science (GSU – Armstrong Campus, Savannah, GA) Cathy served as a naturalist/guide for Wilderness Southeast. She also produces, writes, hosts and narrates television documentaries and her works include two Emmy-winning nature series for GPB-TV called Coastal Naturalist and Secret Seashores, of the human and natural history of Georgia’s barrier island archipelago. For three seasons she hosted and served as consulting naturalist for a multiple Telly award-winning nature series for Turner South entitled The Natural South. Most recently she co-produced Shifting Baselines that aired on GPB-TV in November 2019. Concomitantly for 15 years beginning in October 1998, Cathy worked with NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary serving as ocean science educator/translator, scientific diver, and certified pilot of the submersible DeepWorker 2000 as well as an Aquanaut. Since officially retiring from NOAA in 2014, Cathy serves locally on behalf of our great global Ocean through stewardship and advocacy with several organizations including Ocean Exchange and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Tybee Island Marine Science Foundation. She also helped establish Maudlin Pond Press, LLC in 2020. Cathy serves as naturalist for SCAD’s Sustainable Design Department’s Biomimicry Class and in her spare time is the lead singer for a local band called The World Famous Crabettes. She still leads trips into the Okefenokee Swamp and other great wilderness areas in SE USA.