Wednesday, November 29, 2006

a little history of Florida

Like the Michener book on Texas I read in August, this book starts at about 500 years ago. The story is told, however, by a native north-Floridian at the time of the 2001 "hanging-chad" incident in Florida's capital.

Like one of the reviews that is on the page for this book, it tells a history of not only Florida, but of her own family as well. So, there is history on aborigines vs Europeans as well as "slice-of-life" history of an old-South family in a part of Florida that is a little bit more like Georgia to the north than the rest of Florida.

I found the aboriginal history to be an ok starting place for where I'd want to go to get better information. There were many tribes of "American Indians" as well as an aboriginal Cuban influence.

When the Europeans started wanting to colonize, there were battles between the French and Spanish, as well as the challenges for those who came from non-tropics dealing with tropical weather.

One thing I found particularly interesting (it hadn't occurred to me before) is that, since Florida is such a great place to have zoos, with wildlife that is native to all parts of the globe (except, perhaps, polar bears and penguins), that when one of the many hurricanes comes around, the wildlife in Florida gets an influx of all kinds of weird species. It appears that no one knows what is native and what is not.

Which brings me to a thought that was not discussed in the book. There is a lot of consternation these days over saving the Manatees.

This gentle beast is not too smart and apparently gets run over by motorboats very easily. It's endangered, I believe.

manatee picture

Well, a casual argument that I've heard when visiting Florida is that Manatees are not native anyway, so why worry; also, they eat all this native grass that messes up the ecosystem. But the other side of the argument says no, the grass is not native and cleaning it up helps the ecosystem.

But I digress. The book was worth reading. I really did not know anything about Florida except that I'd lived there (Orlando) for 6 months 20 years ago, it's flat and warm (with great waterways, including an ocean!), and has Disney and many other tourist areas.

I feel a little wiser now, when considering moving my family there. There are a lot of warts that come with the state. For instance, I read in the book it was late in understanding the need for civil rights among all Americans; still struggles today to get with the program.


Unknown said...


I'm sorry to hear you guys are moving. Is it definite?


suzannejb8 said...

It's over 90%, but there are still some unknowns with my employer's decision-making. Way back in October I'd mentioned to my family that we really may not know until the end of January. It's looking like my prediction's coming true.

Unknown said...

I wish you well whatever the decision is.