Florida, the keeper of the most misunderstood and vulnerable tiny piece of Earth, the Everglades, is perceived either as a mosquito infested swamp or, in sharp contrast, as a paradise of the States. Florida juggles its bipolar existence.
A colleague friend of mine from the Northeast complained that she hates being stuck in Florida, that she wishes she could go back North. I reminded her of Florida’s historical wealth and its diverse landscape. From the tropics to Georgia, Florida carries within itself the burden of being nearly an island, nearly a mainland; it carries the complex heritage of its original ancestors, the Seminoles, the Miccosukee, many other native cultures, then ofthe Spanish, the British, the Confederates. It was tossed from Spain to England to Spain again. Its roots are rooted in turbulence and cultural schizophrenia. I find it supremely fascinating, with deep depth and potential for discovery. Burial grounds are being discovered near my Artist Residency at the Deering Estate presently.
During our discussion, I also brought up St. Augustine, our nation’s first European colony to have survived to this day. Not only was she surprised to here this giant mark of US history is located in Florida, but also I was totally blown away and a bit personally hurt (I know–but I am very or perhaps too passionate about FL history). However, I was pleased to have the opportunity to share this bit of information with her.
I just returned from St. Augustine, and I still found it as special as I did as a little kid. Once again, I am inspired by the state of Florida, survivor of genocide, wars, terrestrial exploit, godly hurricanes. Florida, home of the oldest school house, the oldest city, the oldest sea port, the Everglades, dolphins, alligators, Little Havana, the Keys, the Deering Estate, hot summers, warm winters, many paradises and so much more.