June 13, 2016 § 4 Comments
Any place we claim as home has, and has not.
The place I claim has squirrels, armadillos, and raccoons, but no giraffes, onagers, or kangaroos.
Trees are a different story.
Our live oaks are burly with spreading limbs. Fingertip to fingertip it takes several of us to hug the tree in my father’s back yard. The oaks are the landscape–every place does something bigger and better than the average. We do trees.
You won’t hear us brag about our climate, which is ninety percent heat, ninety percent humidity. It may not add up but its true. Both settle in for months, refusing to budge. Just when our brains reach a slow simmer, abuzz with heat-induced confusion, a cool breeze blows through, and it is winter.
We break out the sweaters. We put away the flip-flops, except for our college students who remain tan and summer-dressed year round. That leaves us with plenty of flip-flops on cold days.
Half of us are college students. That half fills their Publix carts with pre-prepared foods and soft drinks and makes the sweater-wearing half want to adopt them and give them nutritional advice. They make our town vivid and full of optimism. They up local beer consumption too.
By virtue of the star beside our name on the map of Florida, we have THE LEGISLATURE, a puffery of crusty indoor creatures who, at least under this administration, are dangerous to living things. Like bears.
A fine moon hangs over us at night. Stars too. Just a little bleached by man-made light, our night skies are pretty enough. No auroras though.
Despite the claim that our city, like Rome, is spread across seven hills the place is pretty darned flat.
No canyons or purple mountain’s majesty, no views that take your breath away or make you want to send a postcard.
Roadside flowers are a splash of yellow coreopsis. No fields of poppies. That’s Italy too.
Here we stand above an aquifer held in the stone honeycomb of the karst.
Its water bubbles up in springs and cold, cold rivers. We are short on waterfalls, and the beautiful Gulf is someone else’s. They don’t mind if we drive over and visit it though.
We have a southern slowness. Must come with the heat. No clipped encounters here. No throbbing ambition. Few neckties.
We have football, and more quietly, science and the arts.
We have kids in plastic pools and dogs, lots of dogs. Four out of five are pit bulls.
We have okra and collards and tea so sweet the sugar falls to the bottom as a sandy grit.
We don’t do spectacular. But that’s okay. Spectacular is for vacation.
What we have here neither stirs a hot fervor of descriptive adjectives, nor wordlessly oppresses the soul.
But the simple arithmetic of this, plus this, plus this adds up.
The resulting sum is, nice place.
Think I’ll stick around.