Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
where I'd rather be
Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 03/10/2008 - 20:31.
This is the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola, Florida. My sister bought a house in Apalach several years ago on a dead end street called Apaco. It is off a short also deadend street called Shadow Lane. Shadow Lane is so named because all along it there are these 200 year old water oaks laden with Spanish Moss - it is one of those canopied roads you imagine from stories of the deep south. This is where I retreat. This is where I go to relax and breathe in the salt air, bathe in the salt water and slow down to a southern pace.
I grew up amid one of the last remaining longleaf pine forests in the US right near Eglin Air Force Base. I had no idea then that I was one of the few lucky ones who was able to watch long leaf pines glistening in the sunlight. I come from a place where you don't need asphalt to see the heat above the surface of the ground; you can see it even on a windy, sandy beach. The place seems like a mirage in so many ways.
In the evenings, local folks gather on this porch (pictured above) - the Gibson Inn, to watch the sunset and share stories of the day. You can smell the fishing boat's catch being hauled in and later share in the repast (once it's been gussied up by a world class chef). Oysters abound in the Apalachicola Bay and St. George Island is the barrier, white and teeming with ocean life on one side, brown and teeming with bay life on the other.
At night the stars come out and dance their way across clear skies (no one leaves their outside lights on), in the afternoons you can see funnel clouds forming or the rain moving across the Gulf of Mexico. The population is tiny, the folks plain, the rain serious. The grocery is called Piggly Wiggly, the Café is Café Con Leche, the restaurants called The Owl, The Grill, the Theater is called The Dixie (named after the daughter of a former artistic director of the Cleveland Play House). There is an old fashioned soda fountain there in a tourist trap where you can buy flip flops and sunscreen and postcards. This is old Florida, the Florida I love. Here you sit on the screened porch at night and listen to the crickets crickin".
Here you are healed by the salt waters of the Gulf, your feet are scrubbed by the sandy beaches, your skin is coated with salt even from the breeze. Here you watch for bears and rattle snakes and tortoises crossing the road as you drive northeast toward Tallahassee passing Wakulla Springs and the roadside vendors selling Tupelo Honey and garden produce.
( click here to see Joe Cook's photos of tupelo trees on Owl Creek Apalcicola River)
Here the NYTimes discovered what I have always known; the panhandle is the last of old Florida. Shhhhh… we don’t want too many to learn about it. Dogs run free on the beaches there… shhhh…
( categories: )
Recent blog posts