Columns,  Conservation

Dirt

I think about Florida’s dirt more than I don’t.

From the sandy soils of the Lake Wales Ridge, to the mucky pastures along the labrynth of rivers, beaches and backwoods, in the wildest of places you could imagine.

I love this dirt. This ground. This place that gets between the straps of your Olukai’s and rubs your feet raw.

Chad Crawford (the host of “How to Do Florida”) once mentioned to me that Florida leads the nation in the export of coffins. In other words, more people die here and are shipped someplace else than anywhere in the country.

This is a fun and fascinating fact, but the broader point is . . . Why isn’t this dirt their dirt?

You move here to enjoy the sunsets and dolphins and tarpon. Palm trees and palmettos and pompano.

But why come someplace to live without bringing your heart?

Why come someplace to live without embracing it with everything you have?

Most native Floridians will curse this migration – “everything was better before all of these transplants came here” . . . I’m on the flip side of that – there’s an inherent hypocrisy in criticizing the customers that buy your products and shop in your stores while counting their dollars after they leave.

No. Instead, I wish we’d take it upon ourselves to show these folks our dirt.

Show them why Disney is nothing compared to the blue waters of Destin . . . That Universal can’t hold a candle to a Lake Kissimmee Sunrise . . . We need to show them Scrub Jays and Osceolas and Burrowing Owls and bats at sunset and martins in the morning and the quack of a Mottled Duck and the smell of a summer rain and how nothing in the world can beat the taste of a wild blackberry . . . Cypress swamps and scrub oaks and cattle ranches and mangrove rivers . . . We need to trade out their mindset, from one of “passing through” to one of “coming home” . . .

It’s then that they’ll understand this dirt.

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