“Chiggers, Sandspurs and Magnolia Blossom Wine” is about Florida, its land and people.
Florida is a land of beauty. Our landscape enfolds us in tropical foliage and inspires us with the sweep of its prairies and seas. It is a land of horrors. Our rivers are poisoned; cities are sinking under a rising ocean; our once crystal springs are turning to scum ponds.
We are a people of courage, risking family farms trying to connect with people in new ways and bring them in safe, affordable food.
We are a brave and generous people who feed the homeless despite city ordinances and billy clubs .
We are committed, professional conservationists learning, teaching and implementing non-destructive industrial, agricultural and residential practices.
We are enraged activists demanding an end to horrors carried out by corporations against the land and people.
We are writers, artists, and political organizers seeking to share our vision of the possible.
Here, I reflect on it all—in words and photos, stories, rants and recipes—as I formerly did in The Williston Pioneer, the rural Florida newspaper I used to publish. Only now, with a blog, I’m dependent only on readers’ interest, not on advertisers’ dollars. So, all you old friends in the Williston Chamber of Commerce who thought Miz Skipper was a nice little old lady—surprise!
My focus here is on North Central Florida, but scraps of Florida’s lush landscape are visible all over the state, not just north of Orlando. Echos of old Cracker life still sound throughout the state, not just on the banks of the Suwannee. People work to rescue Indian mounds down in Miami and up on the Panhandle. Florida environmentalists are as passionate about the wetlands of the Everglades as they are about Paynes Prairie.
And–Development threatens sandy beaches of the Gold Coast and fishing villages on the Big Bend alike. Corporate agriculture ravages the land and breaks its workers from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Right wing religion and politics combine to butcher all that is beautiful from Pensacola to the Keys.
The things that thrill me, the things that enrage me about Florida are not confined to this one state. People work for clean air and water, safe working conditions, healthy food and cooperative community worldwide; corporate power impoverishes all workers; climate change threatens all life. So occasionally we’ll reflect on national and international events that mirror those here and study the successes and failures of people’s struggles north of the Okefenokee.
Maybe you’ll disagree with what I write here. So let us hear your thoughts. I want this blog to be a place where farmers, service workers, writers, labor organizers, school teachers, professional conservationists–all of us concerned with what we’re doing to the earth and each other–can exchange ideas, inspire each other, plan for action.