|Skullcap Seed Pods (Scutellaria integrifolia)|
|Grass Pink Orchid (Calopogon multiflorus)|
|Tip of My Boot Near the Tiny Sundews (Like Godzilla!)|
|Hooded Pitcherplant (Sarracenia minor)|
|Pale Meadow Beauty (Rhexia mariana)|
|Yellow Eyed Grass (Xyris difformis)|
|Blackroot (Pterocaulon virgatum)|
|Little Metalmark on Polygala lute|
|Hatpins and Polygala in the Ditch|
I've lived here in Florida, far away from "my people" for going on 17 years, which is getting to be a long time. But no matter how long I've been here, I do not have the ancestral claim to the land that Florida Natives have. My ancestors came to Utah in the 1850's. My roots go back 5 generations. I don't have that in Florida. I still struggle to mentally place cities and towns because I don't have the geography of Florida in my personal folklore. The family stories we have here are limited to the ones my husband, my daughters and I have made in those 17 years. But I have made a connection to the nature of Florida. I know that when I need to feel refreshed and rejuvenated, all it takes is a mere whiff of the ocean air. In the summers I crave the cool of the freshwater springs with their deep blues and greens and cypress knees. When I've been away, returning to the heavy, humid air and buzzing cicadas feels familiar and comforting now. I have become enchanted by the world of Florida's wildflowers, insects, birds and mammals. As I have learned more about them I have also come to appreciate the complexity of their ecosystems, their variety and the changes brought about by seasons, drought, storms and fire. I am getting to know them. Knowing a place makes one feel grounded and connected. You get the inside references. You understand the jokes. You know what's happening. You know what to expect.
We are a nation of nomads who leave our histories and connections behind as we seek new lives--jobs, school, love and adventure. Change is exciting and good, but can also leave you adrift. I imagine that my great-great grandparents experienced this when they left everything they knew behind and started a new life in the desert of central Utah. But they came to that strange land with a purpose--building a religious paradise on earth. Some of them eventually brought their parents and other relatives and settled in. That focus and determination gave them connection. I too have settled in a new place and left behind my ancestral roots. But I have found connection to Florida by learning about its nature, and in the knowing, I feel my own purpose and sense of place.
|Southern Hairstreak on Blackroot (Pterocaulon virgatum)|