A spot on the map tickled our curiosity, and Buck and I — looking for an excuse on a pretty day– packed up a lunch yesterday and meandered down to a part of the local coastline we hadn’t seen for years. We landed at one of the local bays, saw a house for sale that looked abandoned, pulled into the old shaded drive and parked the car to wander about and look at the water.
The old, ramshackle house sprawled all over the place — looked like it was built in stages on an “as needed” basis. It was clear a lot of happy living had gone on around there. Old pots with plants crawling out of them competed with Confederate jasmine and other creeping vines and plants, mixing and mingling with huge Sago palm trees, blooming old magnolias, fig trees loaded with ripening fruit, loquat and banana trees, gargantuan rounded old hydrangeas in full blue-flowered bloom, thick trunked pine trees, cedars, camelia bushes and English ivy inexplicably running everywhere, even down to the sandy beach where the ruined dock lay in pieces, abandoned from the lick it took from Hurricane Ivan in ’04.
Most waterfront lots around here these days have lost their “old Florida” character. The lots have been scraped off and landscaped within an inch of their lives with ubiquitous big box hybridized plants that could be plunked down most anywhere in the country.
The hodgepodge old house and lot we saw yesterday was firmly rooted in its place in panhandle Florida, and in the last century. Its history was writ large in rusted old crab traps, a wooden swing facing the sunset in a decrepit screened in porch, ancient fishing tackle hung on nails seen through the open door of a storage shed along with a child’s small life jacket at rest on a shelf.
We frightened away a lime green Chameleon from a failing, splintery bench, sat and took in the view.