The Wild Heart of Florida
The Sweet Scent of Pinewoods at Dawn - Jeff Ripple
Borderland - Janisse Ray
Brooker Creek - Jeff Kinkenberg
The Wild Heart of Florida - Susan Cerulean
The Ugliest Beach in Florida- Julie Hauserman
Last of the Falling Tide - Carl Hiassen
Where the Suwannee Meets the Sea - Jeff Ripple
River of Dreams - Joe Hutto
A Valley of Inches: The Headwater of the Upper St. Johns River - Bill Belleville
A Ribbon of Wilderness: The Savannas State Reserve - Ann Morrow
The Tallahassee - St. Marks Trail - Mary Tebo
Last class we began to discuss the relationship between language and reality or the representation of nature in
essay writing. Today I would like for you to do some research on the authors represented in this collection. This
collection includes some of the best known essayists from Florida who continue to publish. Why is this important?
Continue to use Google My Maps to map
the places identified in these essays. What patterns or observations emerge from mapping these places?
Jeff Ripple’s essay, “The Sweet Scent of the Pinewoods at Dawn,” describes how the narrator listens
to the forest with his camera in his hands, “wait[ing] for the forest to tell me in my gut what I
will photograph. When it has spoken, when I settle the camera on the tripod and peer through the
ground glass, I feel my body drawn through the lens and swallowed by the landscape before me. I
become what I see” (59). What is the relationship between the body and the environment? How might
it be possible to “become what [you] see”? Imagine visiting a place like this in Florida. How might you
embody this type of relationship to nonhuman nature?
Janisse Ray’s first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, combines memoir and natural history to
illumine social issues related to class (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janisse_Ray). Similarly, in her
essay, “Borderland,” Ray blends human experience with environmental experience so that one informs the other
and so that neither can be completely separated from the other. How does “Borderland” connect
environment and humanity? What are the benefits and challenges
of thinking about one’s relationship to the environment in this way? What is the “borderland” in this essay?
How might mapping human experience onto the environment illustrate the concept of
our interrelatedness in place?
In Jeff Klinkenber’s “Brooker Creek,” preserve volunteer LaVonne Ries admits that she has been lost in the Everglades;
and yet, her voice sounds “exhilarated” when retelling her experience (79). Why it might feel exhilarating to lose one’s self in a preserve,
such as Brooker Creek or the Everglades?
What does this feeling of exhilaration tell us about our relationship to the natural world at the end of the
twentieth century (Wild Heart of Florida was published in 1999)?
Comment on this assertion in Susan Cerulean’s essay, “The Wild Heart of Florida”: “So much of Florida is built on
the dead: the killed bays, the razed scrub, the buried-alive gopher tortoise. We must deny these things in order
to live orderly, guilt-free lives. We remain ignorant. We assume the best. We believe the cheerful corporate
literature. We delight in the descriptive names for our streets and malls and subdivisions: the Oaks Mall
(trees cut down), Turkey Run (turkeys gone), and so forth. We are guilty first of ignorance, second of strong
self-preservation instincts, third of laziness, and for some of us, that adds up to evil intent” (84).
In “Where the Suwannee Meets the Sea,” the narrator describes images of nature alongside observations of mechanization during
a kayaking trip on the Suwannee River. To what extent does Ripple’s essay problematize the policies of federal conservation lands?
Joe Hutto’s essay, “River of Dreams,” focuses on the ecosystem of the Wacissa River and argues that “the nature
of a river is not about ownership but rather about membership and fundamental relationship—geological, biological,
and social—with the society of living things” (108). Thinking about the Wacissa River in this essay and other
rivers (or bodies of water) described in previous essays, discuss geological, biological, and social relationships.
How do the essays in this collection depict the powerful and fragile natures of Florida’s bodies of water?
Bill Belleville writes of the St. John’s River in “A Valley of Inches” that “the entire process of discovery can be
entirely missed, unless you focus on the act of looking—not just where to look, but how” (113). According to
this essay, how should we be looking?
Many of the essays in The Wild Heart of Florida mention Preservation 2000. This article
published in June 2015, points to the future (or lack of a future) for the program as a result of Florida legislation.
Provide examples from the collection of how Preservation 2000 initiatives produced environmental changes. What do
the essays in The Wild Heart of Florida convey about the role of government in environmental preservation?
The last essay of the collection, “The Tallahassee—St. Marks Trail,” discusses how St. Marks Trail is unlike other wilderness
sites funded by Preservation 2000. The essay explains that this trail is designed to be accessible to everyone,
“‘bring[ing] people together because they’re looking at each other and talking to each other’” (128). How do the essays
in The Wild Heart of Florida bring various ecosystems and groups of people together? How might “coming together” rewrite