Wanting To Believe In Florida Magic

Today was the big changeover day on Facebook, the day everyone is forced by the geeks up on a cloud to change our “profiles” to “timelines.” So, like millions of others, I went scrambling through photo albums looking for that one perfect picture that would say just who I am. Didn’t have much to choose from, since I never have organized my photos and haven’t bothered to figure out how to get pictures from iPhoto to Facebook, except as albums. Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to write about.

What struck me as I sorted photos, was that the keep list was all Florida landscape. Never mind I’ve lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the last five years. Never mind I was born and bred a North Carolina Tar Heel. Never mind Cambridge, Massachusetts was the very best place in all the history of the world to live and if I could afford it I’d go back.

So why identify with Florida? When I know that when I stood there snapping photos I was being attacked by mosquitoes? When I knew that the pretty fluffy cloud overhead would turn black and spit fire any moment? That the nuclear power plant across the water, closed down because potential leaks, was about to be reopened and MY County Commissioners wanted to build another one almost where I was standing? That the dead palms on the little island in front of me had not died of old age, but of salt water intrusion, a consequence of rising sea levels and global warming, while MY city council members backed drilling for oil right there, right where they boasted about catching giant red fish?

And today I learned the St. John’s Water Management District board is considering giving a permit for a cattle finishing ranch just southeast of my place, down in Marion County. A “ranch” where cattle are fattened and slaughtered, a very intensive use of the land because they don’t want the animals moving around and burning off fat. Intensive use of water. High concentrations of nitrates from fertilizer and urine, that will flow unfiltered by the sandy soil, into the aquifer. Into Silver Springs, all the other springs, and our wells. (To read more and sign a petition to stop the pollution, go to https://secure3.convio.net/nasaud/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1256.) Just more Florida stupidity and greed, destroying such a beautiful place and thinking that somehow it will always be there.

Like magic.

Perhaps that’s what is so appealing about its landscape, why I so identify with it. I want to believe in magic.

Here are a few of the photos. Do you feel the spell?

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Author: Skipper Hammond

Skipper Hammond was born on the edge of Charlotte, N.C. in a time, in a neighborhood where children were free to play. She and her friends ran, biked, rode, explored and read. The entire neighborhood was their stage for the continuing plays Skipper created based on the stories they read. Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, British and American,Yankee and Confederate armies romped through woods, across fields and creeks, up and down streets until good guys prevailed or softball and hopscotch season arrived.  Then she grew up and went to the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Tar Heel legislators at the time saw no reason to finance economics education for women, but Skipper contrived a major in economics by cobbling credits in business and history. Involvement in a series of strikes by textile workers led to graduate work at Cornell with a masters in Labor Union History and several years of union organizing in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.  After marriage and the birth of her son and daughter, Skipper, then living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, worked at jobs where she could punch out—stitcher, machinist, assembly worker, candy maker, database designer, economics journal editor—and still have the energy needed for the real work of political organizing for social and economic justice.  Her political work took the form primarily of writing and editing for movement publications, and when she moved from Cambridge to a farm in rural north central Florida, she began writing for the Ocala Star-Banner and Gainesville Sun, then founded the Williston Pioneer, where she was publisher, editor, reporter, ad salesperson and janitor. She also raised goats. She currently divides her time, unequally, between Williston, Florida, where she continues playing in the woods, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she invents stories. 

2 thoughts on “Wanting To Believe In Florida Magic”

  1. Photos are beautiful. I love the swaps of the Gulf Coast, grew up near bayous. Greed is epidemic in local government. I’m laughing at your post about Facebook. I just joined and can’t figure out how to get a timeline!

  2. You make me miss Florida just a tiny little wee bit. I might like it better now as an adult, but memories of huge spiders will likely keep me away forever. 🙂

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