Blog for Oct. 28-Nov. 3rd
One of the weekly goals of Radio Green Earth is to showcase a place that is special in South Florida…special because of its location and its unique nature or special because it is part of a major story. As a result we have brought you programs from the Everglades, Key West, Sanibel Island, Big Cypress and the Panther refuge, the Suwannee River, just to name a few. The result for me personally is that this program has taken me to so many wonderful places, but I can’t hold a candle to the travels of Ron Wiggins.
Ron is Florida native, a semi-retired columnist, humorist and author. For decades he entertained us on the pages of the former Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel and the St. Pete Times. I say former because they are all shells of their former selves, but that’s an issue for another day.
Ron’s newest book is called “Florida Authentica”, and the cover looks a lot like the paper placemat in that roadside diner with a stuffed gator out front you visited with Mom and Dad about fifty years ago. In the book Ron chronicles his personal travels to 52 “unique eccentric and natural marvels of the Sunshine State” (the subtitle). This book will not give you the best restaurants for sushi at Epcot. There is no Epcot, no Mouse, no MGM, no Holyland in this book. Instead there is Silver Springs, Fort Clinch, the John Gorrie Ice Museum and the Ding Darling Refuge (one of my favorites).
More than a travel guide to kooky places, “Florida Authentica” is also a memoir. Ron grew up in Gainesville. Many of these places are literally his old stomping grounds, and his reminiscences tend toward the Huck Finn kind of adventuring. Plus there are the wonderful stories of rebirth and restoration. Rainbow Springs was once a fun but tacky roadside attraction near the third largest spring in Florida, filled with animal cages and sideshows. The advent of Interstate 75 destroyed the drive by business and the park, but it was bought by the state and is today a natural paradise you can see on 2 bucks a day.
I met Ron for a chat at one of my favorite spots that he includes in the “Florida Authentica” book, Grassy Waters Park. It sits on Northlake Blvd west of Palm Beach Gardens. It is a catchment area for the water supply for West Palm Beach.
Grassy Waters was originally acquired by Henry Flagler to assure that he and his friends on Palm Beach had all the water they needed. Regardless his motives, had he not bought Grassy Waters it might be a development today like nearby IBIS or Bay Hill Estates. Instead it is an incredible natural preserve of classic Cypress stands and swamp. It is home to several endangered species including the Snail Kite, and to paddle through there you get this amazing sense of prehistory, just a few blocks from your house. Listen in to Radio Green Earth this week for that conversation with Ron Wiggins and an education specialist at Grassy Waters who tells us all about what’s available for the family out there.
Also on the agenda this week on RGE, some music the producer says is more noise than music. His name is Jack Heartz, from coastal California-Laguna Beach to be precise. He makes music that is for sale on the web-no middle-people-no CD’s, no carbon burning distribution sucking up the profit and raising the cost. Actually, the cost is what you donate so you decide the price of the music. And best yet, the proceeds go to saving the whales. Jack’s music is extremely whale-like by the way. We will play you a taste this week on Radio Green Earth, which you can access in many ways including three radio stations, and right here on our website where you can listen live or download the podcast. Join us!