Favorite thing: All around the Miccosukee area are numerous old and almost forgotten cemetaries. Many of these are "black" cemetaries, created in the days when white and black people lived and died in separate circles. For what it's worth, cemetaries remain substantially segregated. But, nobody seems too upset about it.... it may be that nobody is interested in getting placed into ANY cemetary anytime soon, either black or white.
Anyway, there are many old cemetaries in the immediate area, many sporting markers from pre-Civil War days. I've always found old cemetaries to be a peaceful spot for an afternoon walk.
And a special family note....
The accompanying photo is an old one, it's from 1984. It was taken the evening before I first became a father. This fog bank came in the evening of February 29th (it was leap year). The next early morning, March 1, my son Jeff was born.
ANOTHER family note regarding the Indian Springs cemetary...
The closest gravesite to my house belongs to a wonderful man, and a true lion of our community. That would be the Honorable John Aron Rudd, a local circuit judge, former city commissioner and mayor. Oh, one other thing.... he was a neighbor of ours, living two houses down, and HE WAS THE GUY WHO MARRIED BONNIE AND I. I kind of like knowing that he's chosen to spend the rest of time next to a happy home he helped create. :)
Fondest memory: I've spent many afternoons strolling through local historic cemetaries. The one in the photo is at Indian Springs Baptist Church, just next door to my house.
So, I guess you can say that I have lots of neighbors.... it's just that most of them are dead. : )
I don't know where I'll end up when my days are gone, but a cemetary like the one at Indian Springs would meet with my approval. Nice and peaceful. A place of respect and quiet.
The annual Classic Cars & Doll show
Favorite thing: For the last few years, Miccosukee has hosted a tidy little event called "The Classic Car and Doll Show". It's a simple, gentrified little get-together held annually on the grounds of the local Van Brunt-Morris (1911) house (see separate tip).
The classic cars are generally of British origin, seeing as how the event is hosted by the North Florida British Motorcar Club. So, if you'd like to go enjoy skads of Jaguars, MGs, Triumphs, Austin-Healys and Minis, check it out.
And for non-car aficionados, there's also the doll show, which offers the chance to enjoy the interior of the Van Brunt-Morris home, bedecked with scores and scores of historic and themed dolls and doll-related items. I know, I know... when someone says "doll show", the term "blue haired old ladies" does creep into your psyche. FWIW, the ladies running the doll show here in Miccosukee are all quite charming, and I don't see a blue hair on one of them. They're also excellent bakers and have lots and lots of cookies and snacks for you to enjoy when you visit. I'll admit that I'm not much of a doll guy, but I enjoy the chance to look over the interior of a beautiful historic home just as much.
Again, there are usually cookies and tea snacks in the kitchen at the doll show (and they are goooooooood southern sweets), and out in the yard, they generally have a catered lunch. Other than buying food from the lunch caterer (this year, it was the folks at Sonny's BBQ doing the catering), everything else is FREE. There was also a little local band playing oldies... I think it was some outfit calling themselves Tommy, Jo and the Gig Band. They were more fun than they were musically great, but I did enjoy singing along to myself with the songs - I knew them all.
So, if you're in my area in April, ask and we'll see if it's about time for the car and doll show.
Notes... to see photos of the dolls and the doll show, please look at my additional photos on the Van Brunt-Morris house tip.
And, for more photos of the car show - some good stuff, car lovers - check out my Car Show travelogue on this page. Isn't that 1956 Jaguar the living end?
Fondest memory: As for the car show, I came pretty close to talking my wife into letting me buy a pristinely restored little 1977 MG. OK truth? Bonnie would have been cool with buying it, but I knew it was an impulse purchase, and I just don't have any extra garage space. Sigh.
The Van Brunt - Morris House
Favorite thing: The village of Miccosukee has several old houses on state's historic register.
The Van Brunt - Morris house is located just north of the town center, on Veterans Memorial Drive. It was completed in 1911.
Like all of the town's historic homes, all are in current use as residence for a local family. These are historic HOMES, lovingly cared for by their owners.
Also, the Van Brunt-Morris house has, over the last couple of years, played host to the annual Classic Cars and Dolls Show. (Please see my tip on the subject, as well as my travelogue for photos of the cars in the 2009 show) Visiting the doll show allows one the opportunity to tour the interior of this historic home. (There are some "doll show" interior photos attached to this tip, so that you can peek inside.... just try to ignore the dozens of dolls in the photos. :)
Canopy Roads, the trademark of Leon County
Favorite thing: Many of the rural highways in Leon County, at least the "county" roads, are what we call canopy roads. The tree limbs, laden heavy with spanish moss, literally grow completely across the highway.
Looking at the accompanying photo, can't you imagine a time a 150 years ago, when all of the area lands were parts of vast plantations. You're riding along in a wagon, pulled by a horse or mule. The breeze is gentle and the air is warm. Maybe you're even chewing on a blade of grass or whistling a little tune.
Heck, I still have that same country feeling now, folks. I walk down this very road almost everyday as part of my personal fitness plan. My yearly goal is to always walk AT LEAST 5,000,000 steps. (approximately 2500 miles) I first made this a stated goal in 2004, and every year since, I've managed to top 6,000,000 steps. (BTW, I have a little step-counting club going with VT members allikat, bevjerry, seabiscuit, and former VT member haldane. Write to me if you'd like to join our little club)
Fondest memory: This is County Rd 59, also known as Veterans Memorial Drive. We are facing north in this photo. About one mile up the road, on the right, is my home. About 4 miles up the road is the tiny village of Miccosukee, Florida.
Fresh Vegetables galore
Favorite thing: When you're in Miccosukee, or in the deep rural south in general, I highly recommend that you shop for produce at local farmer's markets and stands. In some cases, you'll find farm families selling sweet potatoes, corn, okra, peas, green beans, squash, etc. by the side of the road.
It'll be fresh, tasty and much cheaper than in the stores.
The accompanying photo shows several ears of freshly shucked and cleaned corn. We turned this pile of gold into "southern skillet corn". (Recipe can be found in my Miccosukee restaurant tips)
The Averill Winchester Lee House
Favorite thing: Another of Miccosukee's historic register homes is the Averill Winchester Lee House, just south of the town center on Veterans Memorial Drive.
This house is still occupied by members of the Lee family, and dates back to 1881.
Another good word would be "community"
Favorite thing: The little village of Miccosukee is, in many ways, like an extended family. Another good word to describe where I live would be "community". In so many ways, we are the way America USED to be. People know each other and generally look out for one another.
John Mellencamp sang about "little pink houses" being all about America. Well, our houses aren't pink, but we get his drift. Miccosukee is a good community and a tightly knit little family in north Florida.
Come to visit us, too. We can always find room for one or two more family members. Like the Olive Garden commercials say, when you're here you are family.
Fondest memory: Community meetings, held at the Community Center are often a hoot. They're especially fun when the Leon County politicians show up for some sort of public forum thinking they're gonna pull the wool over the eyes of the Miccosukee country folk. They usually get their knickers ripped, so to speak.
Both Sides Now
Favorite thing: Joni Mitchell wrote one of the world's greatest songs, "Both Sides Now". I've always loved the words about looking at clouds, love and life from "both sides now".
Segue into my little tip....
Miccosukee is a small little place. If you look at the previous tip and follow it up with this one, you can now say that you've looked at Miccosukee from "Both Sides Now".
"Pete" Ulm's Oak Tree
Favorite thing: This oak tree, right in the heart of Miccosukee, is called "Ulm's Oak". It's on property owned by the late C.E. ("Pete") Ulm, a local grocer. Mr. Ulm had an old general store right next door to where this tree stands. The store was razed and carted away some twenty years ago when Cal-Mart (see separate tip) was built. BTW, "Cal" of Cal-Mart fame was Mr. Ulm's nephew. Some of my dear California friends wanted to know why Miccosukee would name a store after the Golden State. (Is it true that Ahhhnold is going to change the motto to "The Indebted State"?) Anyway, Cal has long since sold Cal-Mart to Indian immigrants. And, Mr. Ulm passed on several years ago. His wife still lives in the house behind the tree.
Ulm's elm is one of the largest and most majestic oak trees in eastern Leon County.
Poet Joyce Kilmer wrote that "only God can make a tree". Well, God outdid him/her/itself with this oak tree, wouldn't you agree?
Fondest memory: I love all of our large oak trees. They are so peaceful and majestic.... Love the sound of wind blowing through the leaves in spring. And in summer, the shade is blessed relief.
Come to Miccosukee and help us hug our oak trees. We're tree huggers bigtime.
A whole village in one photograph
Favorite thing: Like I've said, Miccosukee is more of "a place in the road" than a village per se. Oh, we have people living in and around. But there is no town government or anything. Basically, Miccosukee consists of a few houses, one litle store, the Miccosukee Methodist Church and our flashing traffic signal.
In the accompanying photo, we are looking into Miccosukee. I took the shot from the from lawn of the Miccosukee Methodist Church. In the view are the official town traffic light, and a bit to the left of that is Cal-Mart, our general store.
Oh.... that green VW Jetta pulled off the side of the road in the photo is my car. : )
The SMALLEST post office in America
Favorite thing: OK, it's de-commissioned now, but they still sell mailing supplies for the USPS there. Miccosukee once could claim to have THE smallest functioning post office in the United States. It had one little counter, a few post office boxes, and of course the nice guy who used to work there.
I think it was de-commissioned back in the 1970s.... but the building's still there. And as I say, they sell mailing envelopes, FedEx stuff and such.
Fondest memory: I remember seeing the old towners coming into the little post office to check their mail. It's hard to believe that there was once a time, NOT THAT LONG AGO, that home delivery of mail did not exist in Miccosukee.
This IS the Bible Belt
Favorite thing: I have a strict live and let live philosophy. I've never had any great use for organized religion, and I'd be the first to admit that I have no real idea as to who or what stirred up what has turned into the earth and universe. I just try to live a good and loving life.
In Miccosukee, most people aren't like me, with regard to religion. They are pretty much staunch in their Christianity. They may be Baptists, Methodists or whatever. But, they're pretty solid on the bible and its meaning in their lives. This is actually fine, I suppose. I've always felt that if people will faithfully live their religion, we'll all be pretty OK.
The key is the live AND LET LIVE part of my philosophy. You have to let people live their lives in whatever evangelical or spiritual mode they choose. There is room for everyone.
For the most part, Miccosukee is like that. For whatever it means, the local Christian community generally behaves in a Christian way.... even toward their non-Christian brethren. ; )
Fondest memory: I don't know how anyone could see any of those computer bible programs in Miccosukee. If you want to learn the book verse by verse, just read each day's devotional on the Miccosukee Methodist Church's sign.
Miccosukee Methodist Church [HISTORIC CHURCH]
Favorite thing: Right within the "village limits" (whatever that means) of Miccosukee, you'll find the quaint sanctuary housing the Miccosukee United Methodist Church.
This historic building dates to the late 19th century. Like most other little historic churches in the area, the congregations are made up of lifelong friends and neighbors. Some of my best childhood and high school friends still attend Miccosukee Methodist.
Fondest memory: I've always admired the simple grace of this little building.
Every year at Christmas, they always have a nice little Nativity scene.
And at Easter, they usually erect a large cross on the church grounds. This is a very traditional little church, and it keeps going and growing with each passing year.
Indian Springs Baptist Church [HISTORIC CHURCH]
Favorite thing: Among the peaceful and historic little churches in the Miccosukee area, one of the nicest is Indian Springs Baptist Church. This little church started its congregation in about 1829. The present building was built in 1854, approximately 7 years before the start of the Civil War. (....or "The War of Northern Agression" as it's called in the south...)
This church is actually right next to my home. The good folks at Indian Springs are longtime friends and neighbors.
Fondest memory: One Easter morning, I remember hearing the gentle sounds of piano and choral voices drifting through a beautiful spring morning. The wind was softly blowing through the magnificent branches of our century-old live oaks trees and I suddenly thought to myself....
I am a very lucky guy. : )
I have a happy and peaceful life, and I'm very grateful.
It really IS like a big family
Favorite thing: Miccosukee is so small that everyone knows everyone else. And, in many ways, it's like a big family. There are all sorts of events and activities that the people of the Miccosukee take part in together.
We have rodeos, fish fries, barbecues, gospel sings, square dances, public hangings (just kidding-we stopped that several years ago), political rallies unlike ANYTHING you'd see on CNN, garage sales, craft fairs, fresh vegetable markets, bake sales, prayer breakfasts, softball tournaments, quilting bees, car washes, card games (don't tell Sheriff Campbell, OK?) .....
it goes on and on. Miccosukee is really like a big family. And for the most part, I like my "relatives". ; )