You haven't been here.
I can say almost with total confidence that you haven't. That's one of the reasons I love it so, and why it is my touchstone to return to Apalachicola every chance I get. I feel rooted and grounded there. I remember every single street, house, palm tree, building. I exhale in the sea air and the endless vistas of the Gulf of Mexico disappearing at the horizon into a thin strip of shelter islands' land and trees silhouetted far out to sea.
So I make a journey of 8 hours air travel from San Francisco; two hours to my brother's house by car; then drive two more hours to Apalachicola. They call it The Forgotten Coast, and I like that.
a house around the corner from where I lived as a child
St. Patrick's Catholic Church, our family church
Cousin Alma's House, directly across the street
from her sister's house, Cousin Alice's
Cousin Alice's House
I visit the house where I lived in as a little one, built by my great- great- grandfather, and the cemetary where all my relatives dating back to the Civil War are buried. I love to see the Armory with its ballroom and mezzanine, where my mother danced until dawn as a beautiful young woman. I roam the neighborhood houses, all built between 1830 and 1905, that make up this magical, old place called Apalachicola.
Usually I stop by the Catholic church where my parents were married, my grandmother and brother were buried. I love to visit the old French consulate (of course!), where they still fly the tricolore. I go out to the island and marvel once again that any beach could be more beautiful, or more desolately quiet than this one.
On this trip I find the new Community Gardens. Raised beds tended by townfolk who like to grow their own organic vegetables and fruit. If you had a garden here, and a crab trap or two, you could eat like a king without spending a dime.
If you do want to spend a dime, spend it on seafood. The local restaurants that have stood the test of time serve the most delectable seafood from right here where the river meets the sea. And have a drink at the old bar where Papa Hemingway would have been right at home.
If you ask me for directions to Apalach, I might hesitate. You really don't need to go there.
But I do.
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March 1, 2012
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