A lovely hot winter's afternoon on this winding way through the Everglades adjacent to Tamiami Trail. Indians in new-model sedans waving as they blow by. Two French women pigmenting canvases with the bold black-and-white images of wood storks set against the verdancy of piny perches. A dozen alligators basking by the shallows. A rubber-booted phycologist holding a magnifying glass above a scummy rock. An assortment of unusual structures that nonconformists call home. An eyes-to-the-ground snake collector toting a pillowcase and walking stick. An anhinga spreading its wings after a postlunch swim. The blue and white of the endless sky giving way to the ochre-orange fade of the sun. Peace in the swamp. And then -- yikes! Pickup trucks with Confederate flags across the rear windows screech to a halt. Out spring cropped-top, fatigue-wearing, gun-toting, painted-face warriors of unknown affiliation. Seriously serious-looking soldiers without a war whom one dare not risk approaching. In fact hitting the gas and getting the hell out of there is the right idea. Talk about your freaks of nature.