Some two years ago, our worldwide “shelter in place” situation reminded me of the words of the Eagles’ song, Hotel California and a visit to Korea (see March 24 2020 and other posts). In fits and spurts, we have been leaving the strictures imposed by The COVID, even as variants continue to emerge. This past weekend I made my second foray “out” to attend a meeting and awards ceremony in the state capital, Tallahassee. Our schedule gave me time in between sessions to explore some and I did.
Day 1. With an early start and thanks to American Airlines, I arrived shortly before noon. I took off for Quincy, the county seat of Gadsden County, with my old-style AAA map on the passenger seat beside me.
What a beautiful drive, part of it through the tall pine trees of the Apalachicola National Forest.
I also wanted to see the mural that captured the town legend linking Quincy with Coca-Cola. It’s said that an early town banker encouraged everyone to buy Coke shares in the 20s and 30s and to never sell them. Income from Coke dividends saved Quincy during the Great Depression and in every recession since. It’s believed that at one time, Quincy was the richest town per capita in the USA.
Because I was wearing my museum specialist hat, my real destination was the Gadsden Art and Culture Center and an exhibit of Mary Proctor’s artwork. What a creative mind.
Day 2. Bright and early the next morning, I set off for my next goal, the town of Sopchoppy, deep in the Apalachicola National Forest, more tall trees all around.
The annual worm grunting festival and my folklorist hat took me there. The festival celebrates a traditional method of harvesting worms for bait, a part of the local heritage.
I also see the Florida Folk Heritage Award winners, Gary and Audrey Revell. My path took me through Crawfordville, past stands selling local tupelo honey and painted gourds, as well as a number of roadside garage sales. My sights, however, were set on Sopchoppy.
In a small field next to the Sopchoppy depot (built in 1891, restored in 2010) groups of young people were studiously or stubbornly trying their best to coax the earthworms to the surface.
If you curiosity has been piqued, see this link for more on worm grunting and Gary and Audrey: https://dos.myflorida.com/historical/preservation/florida-folklife-program/folk-heritage-awards/list-of-past-recipients/gary-audrey-revell/.
Lunchtime took me to nearby Panacea, Florida. The town was named for the goddess of universal remedy because of the springs in the area. It’s also known for fresh seafood which I thoroughly enjoyed before having to return to Tallahassee for the annual Folk Heritage Awards.
For more about Panacea see: https://www.naturalnorthflorida.com/panacea/
All in all, it was a great escape after almost two years in Hotel California.