“Chiggers, Sandspurs and Magnolia Blossom Wine” is about a Florida without cabanas, hotels, or plastic mice—theotherFlorida.
Ours 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; our once crystal springs are turning to scum ponds.
We are a people of courage, risking family farms to connect with people in new ways and bring safe, affordable food to neighbors.
We are a brave and generous people who feed the homeless despite city ordinances and billy clubs.
We are seventh generation Crackers, descendants of Pioneers who felled enough pine to build a cabin and grow a row of beans.
We are snow birds who drive our homes down from Ohio and Michigan when our backs tire of shoveling snow and our hearts yearn for green.
We are committed conservationists learning and implementing sustainable industrial, agricultural and residential practices.
We are enraged activists demanding an end to corporate devastation of Florida 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 inThe 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 Miz Skipper’s no longer obliged to be the nice little newspaper lady.
My focus here is on North Central Florida, but fragments of old Florida, a healthy Florida, survive from Key West to the Alabama line. You’ll find lush, natural landscapes all over the state. Echos of old Cracker music 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 Big Bend. Florida environmentalists are as passionate about the wetlands of the Everglades as they are about Paynes Prairie. I’ll comment here on their challenges and efforts too.
And–tourist development threatens sandy beaches of the Gold Coast and fishing villages on the Panhandle alike. Corporate agriculture ravages the land and breaks its workers from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Throughout the state, mining and industry poison the land and water with support from fundamentalist preachers and right wing politicians.
Nor are the things that thrill me, the things that enrage me about Florida confined to this one state. So occasionally I’ll reflect on national and international developments that mirror those here.
Maybe you’ll disagree with what I write here. I’d like to hear your thoughts. I want this blog to be a place where farmers, service workers, writers, labor organizers, social justice workers, school teachers, conservationists–all of us concerned with what we’re doing to the earth and each other–can exchange ideas, inspire each other to action.