The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Old Florida

Despite having hated where I spent the majority of my childhood (Ormond Beach, for those who don't know), I have realized over the years something important. Florida is in my blood, and will always be so.

I have been lucky enough to have been taken away from the shoddy tourist traps that are easily accessible from the major interstates, and into the wilds of true Florida. Old Florida. Forests of oak, underbrush of palmetto, beaches unsullied by cars and condominiums. The way Florida was before people got it into their heads that this was a premiere vacatoin paradise.

Florida is not Disney World. Or Universal. Or any other reason why most people flock here. (Well, I'm speaking mainly of Central Florida. South Florida is another kettle of fish entirely, as are the Keys.)

I can't explain it properly, but there's just something about seeing the unspoiled nature of the state that I have called home for far too long. There's also something about the older towns, the ones that never grew into the monstrosities of air-conditioned stucco that so many developers are attempting to create. Finding little out-of-the-way places with a mishmosh of Victorian and 1920's architecture, with a dash of 60's modernism thrown in for spice. Places that my parents have their memories attached to. Summerhaven. Palatka. Lulu. Interlachen. The Ichetucknee River. Places that some of my own memories are attached to.

My parents have a house on a lake in Interlachen. It's one of the most peaceful places you could retreat to. To get there, you drive through either a forest or along a highway sprinkled with some of these small towns. But some of these towns are showing the telltale signs of development. There is construction all along highway 20, roads being widened, a 24-hour Wal-Mart added. When Starbucks shows up then I'll know it's all over. (Don't get me wrong, I love Starbucks, but it is a sign of "progress.")

I don't mind growth. Civilizations expand, it's inevitable. But what developers in Florida have a tendency to do is to buy up huge quantities of this unsullied land on the cheap, raze it of any distinguishing characteristics, and then pollute it with cheap, cookie-cutter housing. They then sell these "McMansions" for entirely too much money, and run off with the profits.

Only sometimes they build in flood zones which buyers aren't aware of.

And sometimes these houses aren't built to properly withstand hurricanes.

And did I mention the landscape being razed of distinguishing characteristics? They prefer to work from a "clean slate" so all of the flora and fauna is wiped away, never to be replaced. Soon there won't be any of Old Florida left. Just an endless sea of identical houses with perfectly landscaped and mulched yards, mind-numbing cul-de-sacs, labyrinth-like street layouts leading to clogged "collector roads." No one will ever think of my Florida as anything but suburbs and amusement parks.

But the memories I have of how things were will whisper to my heart, and I will remember.


  • At 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Its happening all over South Africa to, am losing faith with human progress if so much is destroyed to get there

  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    *nods* I don't understand how people don't think about what they're doing to their environments. Why can't we coexist peacefully with our surroundings?

  • At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Turell said…

    As a persons you have never met before and most likley do not care about. I shall say that when I went to Florida our main reason for going was the shuttle launch... But the SECOND reason was to go and look at pretty things and to go on one of them hover boats... haha. Florida is pretty. I mean I wouldn't live there but it is very pretty. Next time I go there I'll see if I cant wander into one of those places still containing old Florida. :)

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger AngiGrrrl said…



  • At 2:19 PM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    Why thank you! :-D And happy anniversary to you!

  • At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Thomas said…

    Just thought I'd let you know
    now that everyone is searching "failure"
    to bring up your presidents' official site,
    you can look forward to more 'kids' such
    as myself, stumbling upon your site.I enjoyed the image of "crabs in a bucket"
    Is that a common expression in Florida?
    Fascinated by the ' Girl Logic' behind your " engaged to myself ring". The intimacy of the Blog is great, but you might now consider the opportunity to share some [mix-in some] more important Ideas, Views and Critique.

  • At 5:47 PM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    Wow, I'm getting constructive criticism on my blog! From a "kid" nontheless! ;-)

    Yes, my friends and I are aware of the "Miserable Failure" phenomenon. It's rather amusing, and something none of us planned on when we gave ourselves the name...

    As for mixing in more important ideas and whatnot, are you suggesting that I have the power to influence the world? I do write about what I consider to be more important subjects, but any given day you can find something different. (Well, if I posted every day you would...)

  • At 5:57 PM, Blogger The Fabulous Miss Rose said…

    Oh yeah, um I don't think the crabs in a bucket analogy is a Florida thing. I first heard it in school as something that's a part of peer pressure.

    Because they do that, you know. When one crab tries to climb out of the bucket that a bunch are trapped in, the other crabs will pull it back down...


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