Florida is a quagmire.
(in more than one sense)
A watery, swampy semitropical land with wild variations of plant and animal life, some undeveloped and seemingly undevelopable, yet somehow overdeveloped in the names of Tourism and the Conquest of Paradise.
Aside from beaches (and family), Florida seemed not so interesting to me when I was young, because what I got to see was mostly theme parks and tourist attractions. Entering adulthood, and leaving a horrible high-school Disney trip, I'd never been to the "Real Florida" - as the Florida State Park system slogan goes - and so in 2006, I decided to move there!
I lived for a spring and summer on the Gulf Coast, along the panhandle by Panama City in a pastoral one-stoplight town. Every day nature passed me an element of inspiration. Oyster shells clanking, cypress reflecting, sitting tranquil over waters unsafe for swimming humans.
In summer 2009, I return again...
There are hundreds of natural springs in Florida, mostly along the Gulf side where groundwater meets limestone and sinkholes and underwater caves form.
I visited, and swam in, several: Fanning, Manatee, Wekiwa, Wakulla.
The smell of living creatures in the clear water, the yellows, blues, and greens - are a sensual Fountain of Youth that can not, and will not, allow itself to be paved over.
Photos 1-3 are from Manatee Springs near Chiefland, FL, and the photo on the right is from Wekiwa, on the edge of Orlando.