There is a Florida that performs.
A Florida of King palm instead of saw palmetto, the elegant interloper sprouting on sandy beaches where the squat, toothy native would never grow.
A Florida inventing itself for your eyes—a mirage that will last the length of every tourist’s two week stay.
A place where the slightest ripple reveals a dolphin, and a manatee becomes a mermaid.
Where history is whichever story seems most convenient.
And it becomes easy to forget that the sand dollar souvenir you take home used to be a living creature.
In this Florida, even on the worst days, the chance of sunshine is one hundred percent.
There is another Florida that few people know. A Florida where you can drive straight for an hour and see more cows than cars.
A Florida from the time before the swamps were drained to make beaches, where ospreys and alligators don’t have to compete with trophy fishermen for their catch.
A place where homesteads exist, because people call it home.
Where the waterfront is a place of work, and the signs are kept simple.
A place that does not have to create beauty…
because it already exists.
Natalie Wolff grew up in Sebastian, Florida, three hours from everywhere. She stops her car to help gopher tortoises and does not want to talk about your grandparents. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.