On Saturday we floated a few miles of the Suwannee River, a placid stretch of water on the Florida Panhandle. This is the same river Stephen Foster was talking about in the song, although he misspelled it, and, it appears, never actually visited it.
Canoeing in Florida is a little different than canoeing in Montana. You might see alligators, for one thing. They look like half-submerged logs in the still water ahead, and it’s a little eerie when the logs begin to move. Then they go underwater, and when the canoe glides over the place they were last spotted, a man who has seen too many bad movies can easily imagine a giant alligator suddenly resurfacing with carnivorous intent. Of course that never happens, ever. But still.
It’s good to get out and see a part of Florida that is not visible from the freeway. Sometimes you think this state is all Cracker Barrels and condos and billboards of stern lawyers rolling up their sleeves to sue somebody. But down on the black water of the Suwannee, the limestone banks slip past in silence and the bird calls overhead are not ones you recognize. Every place has its own kind of beauty and Florida is no different. You just have to travel a ways to find it.