While we prepare to leave (a process full of tedious details like visa applications) we are also making a point to enjoy our last days in Florida. Since it is our intention to remain in Japan as long as possible with the hope of becoming permanent residents, we don't plan to return anytime soon.
And yet, Florida is not a place that you can leave. It stays with you, revealing its permanence through your addiction to sunshine and disappointment in realizing that in other places, flowers don't bloom year round. My Florida, the northeastern part, has changed drastically in these past years. Condos mar the our coasts and riverbanks now, spreading north from their breeding ground on the southern tip. Locals are being replaced by Northerners and Californians flocking here in search of warm weather and no state income tax, bringing with them a homogenization of the culture. The great St. Johns River is in danger of being shared with over-developed central florida while the Apalachicola River is facing a flow reduction to serve the sprawl of Atlanta.
I know my story is not unique. Everyone's hometown is under assault. Part of it is chalked up to sentimentality and yet I feel compelled to voice my concern over the speed of this change and the apparent senselessness of it all. Many Floridians are actually grateful for the housing crash because we had no way of stopping the onslaught of developers, our local governments being so easily seduced by the promise of cash. It is probably the same where you grew up. Your favorite trees are maybe gone, that lazy river you spent summers in is perhaps too polluted to touch anymore.
Yet instead of remaining planted on a soap box, I decided to follow the advice of David Gessner from his "green manifesto". Let me share what inspired me:
"Part of the problem here is what I would call the nature calendar view of nature: there is spectacular untrammeled NATURE and then there’s what we’ve got. But I am here to say that what we’ve got ain’t so bad. We simply need to fall in love with what is left, with the limited wildness that remains."
So we set out everyday to love what is left. For the next few weeks, I'll share photos of My Florida. I hope you'll enjoy them.