“In Season invites readers to experience magic in unexpected places. These essays are heartfelt and heartbreaking, incisive and celebratory and funny. They capture the wild and rollicking heart of a state that’s changing faster than any other.”—Ana Maria Spagna, author of Reclaimers
“Smart, provocative, vivid, and lively, these essays suggest that ‘sense of place’ is crucial context for one’s sense of self and exerts not only inescapable influence on the surrounding culture but on the human imagination as well.”—Marianne Gingher, editor of Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers
“More than seventy years ago, Elizabeth Bishop called Florida ‘the state with the prettiest name.’ This stunning anthology of essays and recollections unveils a richer, often less pretty Florida, where Disney World, urbanization, and various kinds of garishness complicate the natural beauty, the warmth and sunshine, the turquoise waters and white sands, the pinks and pastels, that draw people here.”—Willard Spiegelman, author of Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
“A dive into what makes the country’s most enigmatic state tick. Helps us better understand one of America’s most complex states.”—Janine Farver, former executive director, Florida Humanities Council
“Discerning and thoughtful. Ross has an eye for work that reflects the human condition—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even if you’ve lived in Florida all your life, you’ll learn something. And you will enjoy it.”—Mike Foley, Hugh W. Cunningham Professor in Journalism Excellence, University of Florida
First-time travelers to Florida often imagine the state as just a vacationland or a swamp—a place to visit and to leave behind. But the writers in this collection discover the truth that everyone who’s lived in the state knows. When you venture into Florida you won’t find what you expect . . . and what you do find will stay with you forever.
The authors of these essays come to Florida for different reasons. Love, fortune, family, rest, natural beauty, or a fresh start. They encounter a place so diverse that it defies easy categorization. Lauren Groff describes her experience settling in Florida after growing up in the Northeast and finds an affinity with the strong-willed writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who grew to resent the cities of her past and embraced the wild lands that inspired The Yearling. Cuban-born Susannah Rodríguez Drissi travels to Miami and learns what the city means for Cuban Americans—and what it doesn’t mean to them. Deesha Philyaw returns to Jacksonville to care for her cancer-stricken mother, only to discover that their relationship is even more complicated than she’d always suspected. Rick Bragg recalls the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico, a beauty endangered and very nearly destroyed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In In Season: Stories of Discovery, Loss, Home, and Places In Between, Florida is more than a setting—it’s a character of its own. It stirs up hurricanes and rainstorms, enchants with natural springs and cypress forests, and endures in the face of pollution. For all of these writers, Florida is a force that brings about moments of personal insight and growth, a place where hard lessons are learned and true joy is experienced. Their essays illustrate that the places we inhabit put a stamp on us, even if we only call them home for a season.
Jim Ross is managing editor of the Ocala Star-Banner and adjunct instructor in the Department of Journalism at the University of Florida.