The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “Liberty County”

Those beautiful pitcher plants

If you grow up in Florida, you see pitcher plants.  They’re colorful and they’re carnivorous. You can observe them safely, but bugs cannot. They’re over a hundred species of them, so if you’re looking for them, it will take you a while to find them all.

I use them in my books because they seem to shout FLORIDA.  They love wetlands! And when they bloom, an entire prairie of them is very spectacular. Grab you’re camera.

According to the University of Florida’s IFAS extension, “Pitcherplants have tubular leaves with lids or hoods at the top that secrete nectar to attract prey. Once insects are on the lip of the pitcher, they can slip on the waxy opening and fall into the plant. Hairs on the inside of the trap point downward, preventing insects from crawling back up. Plants also secrete digestive enzymes and fluids in the pitcher so that insects are digested and absorbed after they drown or die of exhaustion. Digested insects provide pitcherplants with nitrogen, which is usually limited in the acidic conditions where the plants grow. Most often, ants, flies, wasps, and bees are caught in pitcher traps.”

Since my Florida novels are set in Liberty County in the panhandle, I’m most aware of the pitcher plants north of Sumatra on highway 65. You’ll find more colors than you can count.

As a writer, I always look for unique plants, animals, and land forms to mention in novels and short stories about an area because they are part of the uniqueness of the place where the story is set. These are one of my favorites because they are showy and very obvious to people driving down the highway.

As a threatened species, you cannot pick them and transfer them into your gardens. Enjoy them where they are. The family classification is Sarraceniaceae. You can find them in Liberty County, Florida and west toward Pensacola.

Malcolm

 

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On location: Liberty County Florida

Traveling to the Florida Panhandle today.

These “On Location” posts show my rationale for choosing various place settings for my books. They’re not gospel! They might not even be viable rationale. But, I post them anyway as indirect tips for other writers to consider as they decide how to choose place settings for their stories.

I used Liberty County in my books Eulalie and Washerwoman, Conjure Woman’s Cat, The Land Between the Rivers, and Mountain Song. It’s Florida’s least populous county with easy access to the Apalachicola River, the forbidding Tate’s Hell Swamp, the Gulf Coast, and Florida’s “Garden of Eden” trail, along with many square miles of swamp land and forests.

Why I chose the county

  1. River Styx in Liberty County – Florida Memory Photo. Needless to say, place names like this one are made to order in a conjure book.

    I grew up in the adjacent Leon County (Tallahassee) and spent many hours of Boy Scout camping and family day trips at sites in or near the county. I was not only writing about what I know, but about a very diverse and unique landscape with rare trees, rare wildlife, and an environment that’s off the beaten trail of the kind of development and tourism found in the peninsula section of the state.

  2.  My two conjure woman books lent themselves to a small-town environment in the part of the state known as “wire grass country.” That is, it was more natural to place a conjure woman in a far-away piney woods part of the state than a more populous area. The area also had a variety of legends, remnants of Indian settlements and their recurring cultural influence, and a small-town, insular world view.
  3. My old friend, the late Gloria Jahoda wrote a book about this part of the state called The Other Florida. For my purposes of telling a magical realism story, I wanted an area that was about as “other” as one can find. Her book also included legends that I grew up with, making them a lot easier to refer to in the story than the legends of a place I’d never visited with legends that would have been quite foreign to me. To some extent, magical realism uses legends and tall tales about a place as though they are real. These not only add ambiance to the book, but give readers from Florida bits and pieces of information they’re already familiar with.
  4. Florida, in years past, had a very strong KKK presence, a presence more pervasive in outlying areas. Since both of my conjure woman books pit a woman of magic against the Klan, this made the location a viable and historically accurate place for such a story even though I created a fictionalized small town to avoid any hard feelings (or law suits) with the residents and governments of an actual town. I named my town Torreya, after Florida’s unique and highly endangered tree that grows in this area and nowhere else.
  5. While my conjure books were set in the 1950s, The Land Between the Rivers at the dawn of time, and  Mountain Song in the 1960s, the area–when compared with major tourist destinations and development–is still remote. This helps an author do research because many of the attributes of the place in years gone by still exist today.

I consider a story’s place setting to be a very integral part of the fiction I write. If you like strong place settings, perhaps you will go through some of the same thought processes as I did when you choose the country, state, or town for your novel or short story.

Malcolm

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