Place Where You Live:

Palm Beach, Florida


Every afternnon, it rained. I moved to Florida in the late 1960’s. It had many faults: it was a segregated society, socially and in its schools. But it’s nature was blameless. Every afternoon, moisture was gathered up from the Everglades and moved in clouds north and south, filling the state’s aquifers, irrigating its orchards and farms, and cooling the heat of the afternnon. It was like a water curtain, dividing the business of each day

The bird life alone was worth the move. Thousands of birds never seen before stopped here on migration, or settled year round: Great Blue Heron, Wood Storks that walked like kings, egret, ibis,Sand Hill Crane-so beautiful that cars would pull over where they appeared and people would walk among them, mesmerized.

Big Sugar came and used the Everglades as a run off pond and the Sea of Grass shrunk.Developers covered the state, putting up high rises, golf courses, and artificial communities to house the increasing numbers of retirees. The Florida Panther retreated, and the Florida Black Bear. The Manatee wore scars from speedboats.

Now the very existence of the state is endangered from global warming: the coasts will – within 30, 50 years be over run by the sea. Hurricanes will knock against the state with greater force.Investors–and long time residents– are looking for homes on higher ground in Georgia and the Carolinas.

I’ve lived here since 1966. I’m grateful for every moment I’ve experienced, here where mammals flourished after the ice age and where the constant evolution of the state and its historic washing over by the ocean means that its roads are made of fossil shells.

When Hurricane Frances pummeled us, I had to escape when the eye passed over, if only for a moment. I found an anhinga in our pond, stuck in the plastic top of a six pack. I waded into the water.He was exhausted, and pliant. I told him he was handsome and that I liked better the name Snake Bird, that the Seminoles gave him. I worked him loose, and we both scurried for cover. It was a small heroism, but I’d set one of Florida’s valued citizens free.