Vignettes (Chattachoochee, FL)
Chattachoochee is a small
inviting panhandle town that is located on an manmade lake
near the junction of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.
Although this land was farmed, it is sandy, droughty and
generally of low agricultural potential, notwithstanding
more promising land nearby. Some years ago, I had the
opportunity to visit the noted novice botanist Angus
Gholson there, and I jumped at the opportunity to return.
& 3 were taken on the farm
of Mr. Richard Mashburn, the father of a senior Florida
State administrator, who arranged the visit. Mr. Mashburn
(right) and I pose by his mill. Although Mr. Mashburn, 83,
does not make syrup, he and Maggie, the mule, grind cane
for juice and garden as evidenced by the weeder with fresh
soil. Most of Mr. Mashburn's cleared land forms goat
pasturage and sits atop a hill. With the lake visible on
the horizon and Mr. Mashburn's welcoming smile, few places
could feel more idyllic.
Mr. Frank Owens, a long-time
friend of Mr. Mashburn, helped break Maggie to work nearly
two decades ago. At 69, Mr. Owens is just getting into the
syrup business and had only recently installed this mill
at his residence in town. Mr. Owens could serve as
inspiration for all of us: growing up poor in a broken
home, Mr. Owens was sent away by his father to work. Not
even being near the cusp of adulthood at 11, Mr. Owens
found the circumstances hostile to his purposes, and he
summoned the courage required to remove to Jacksonville,
some 200 miles away. From this bleak beginning, he built a
comfortable life, which I can only attribute to his
inquisitiveness and unbridled passion for life.