March 26, 2022, Naples, Florida- The sweet-spirited young woman was glad as heck, that someone entered her family’s small cafe, just as she was opening the door to business. I felt like royalty, being welcomed as if I was the first soul in years to stop by. It didn’t hurt that she had a gorgeous smile and a barely concealed measure of confidence. When I ordered coffee and a piece of fry bread, (a staple among the Miccosukee, as well as among First Nations people around the United States and Canada-a testimony to the creative use of worm-shot flour, back in the Nineteenth Century.), J placed the order for the bread and turned to her uncle and me, admitting that she only knew how to use a Keurig. Uncle D was nonplussed, and calmly showed his teenaged niece how to make coffee using a drip system. Her coffee was superb, as was her mother’s fry bread.
These are the extended family of my late Aunt Grace, who left Big Cypress after World War II, and never returned, even after leaving her husband. Gracie was content to raise her five children and work as a waitress at a discount department store’s lunch counter, until she died a few years back, at age 90. She was pleased when I went to work with other First Nations people, though. She was quiet. but firm in her assessment of things- much like young J.
The Miccosukee are a southern branch of the Seminole, who came to central and southern Florida in the 1700s, and are the branch of Seminole who managed to elude Andrew Jackson’s forces, when he was appointed military governor of Florida, in 1821. Today, they live along the Tamiami Trail and in sections of the Everglades and Big Cypress natural preserves. No sane United States official, today, would recommend moving these careful stewards from the Federal lands. South Florida is rightly viewed as a proving ground for our species’ commitment to conserving water and all other living natural resources.
I spent about an hour in Osceola Panther, as Uncle D’s small village and store are called. Here are some of the scenes from the store and along the Tamiami Canal outside.
Another hour was spent, up the road, at Big Cypress National Preserve, which offers extensive programs to educate the public on the intertwining topographic areas of savanna and wetlands, which comprise most of southern and central Florida.
Here are a few scenes of everyone’s favourite swamp creature: The alligator.
The heat became a bit enervating, after noon, when I found myself dealing with the hyper-energy of Naples, southwest Florida’s southern anchor community. Here, I found that I had returned to suburbia, intense high-speed traffic and people who had scant patience for one another. After a brief preliminary visit to Naples’ excellent Botanical Garden, I rested, took in a Baha’i planning session and rested more.