Florida is a truly amazing state, ranging from the bible-thumping panhandle to the subtropical cha, cha, cha Latino land of Miami. They say that the further North you go in Florida the more Southern it gets. How absolutely true it is.
Over the past four years that I’ve lived in Florida, I’ve driven the entire 1,200 mile coastline of Florida (with the exception of the inaccessible Everglades at the very bottom of the state) from Pensacola down along the gulf and up the Atlantic side from Key West all the way North to Amelia Island near Jacksonville.
It’s a marvelous paradise that has been embraced by so many people that its natural beauty is in danger of being crushed. Each year over eighty million people visit Florida from around the world. Every day over 1,000 of them decide to stay and defect from scraping ice off windshields or from unrest in South America.
Who can blame them? Not me – I’m one of them.
South Florida – One Giant Parking Jam in the Sun?
I chose to live in the South East corner of Florida where it’s subtropical and loaded with people from the entire world. But I have mixed emotions about South Florida.
Like a well dressed whore – South Florida is seductive at first glance. But in time its soullessness can leave one feeling empty like a John holding an empty wallet.
From Palm Beach down to Miami, South Florida is one giant sprawling pile up of people – as if everyone drove down and no one turned around to go back. No wonder Miami has been voted the worst drivers in the US for the past two years.
Chicken farmers have long known that if you pack live chickens closely together in cages they have to be debeaked or they will peck each other to death. South Florida residents are now so tightly packed they are pecking the Hell out of each other on the road, in condo association meetings and in the malls.
South Florida needs to be debeaked because the rampant materialism, lack of community and vanity of South Florida is crushing not just the trees but a lot of good souls.
Perhaps some day the mother of all hurricanes will roll in from the Atlantic with a twenty foot water surge and flush everyone and everything into the everglades. Judging from the escalating insurance premiums the insurance actuarians are banking on it.
Some Floridians aren’t waiting for the hurricane and left Florida for quieter places like North Carolina or Tennessee, where large tracts of trees still survive. Apparently they’d rather be high and dry and contend with boredom than deal with hurricanes, escalating taxes, insurance and crowded roads.
They paved paradise to put up a parking lot . . .
I never understood the meaning of the lyrics “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot . . . ” until I moved to South Florida a few years ago. What a natural paradise it must have been 100 years ago when people actually lived in and among the trees rather than paving them over.
But yet not all has been “developed”. My favorite oasis of unmolested South Florida is the Hugh Taylor Birch state park. Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercostal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, Florida it’s an oasis of old ficas and palm trees, iguanas and birds.
It would no doubt be covered with concrete, condos and cars if not for the wisdom and generosity of Mr. Hugh Taylor Birch. He gave up his Chicago law practice around the turn of the century and purchased over 300 acres of ocean front paradise for $1.00 per acre. He built a modest home near the beach and lived amongst the trees until he died at the age of 90 in 1940.
He must have loved his trees and animals more than money because he gave his property to the state of Florida with the strict condition that his land and its pristine nature be kept in tact.
I thank him for every day that I’ve enjoyed roller blading through his park or relaxed and watched the boats float by on the Intercostal while grilling out.
There is no perfect paradise on earth – anywhere. Even Mr. Birch’s pristine property has mosquitoes. We make our own Heaven and or Hell where ever we are. I hope the people of Florida treasure the beauty of Florida and choose to enhance it rather than crush it.
|Crass Florida||Beautiful Florida|