The memory often emerges from my mind as all good memories do – undefined, dreamy, and romantic. I recall moving through a canopy of lush greenery, along a sandy road enveloped by the outstretched arms of majestic oaks, full of moss so thick that the sunlight barely filtered through.
I was young and was on a trip with my family somewhere in north Florida. I distinctly remember feeling as if I’d stepped back in time. The surroundings had a Hemingway-esque quality. Beyond the oaks covered in moss were the most beautiful flowers and tropical greenery. I remember the car pulling aside a columned front portico, clear of undergrowth but somehow still carrying a feel of decay. A place time forgot, but a place in which I wanted to linger for a while.
The sound of music drifted from somewhere inside as a few people milled around outside. I cannot recall if it actually was a hotel, but for some reason my young mind classified it as such. The entire white front of the building was cast in a golden light as the afternoon sunlight somehow made its way through the canopy that shielded this place from the modern world. It was a place lost, but in plain sight. It was magical.
My memories are as dim as they are sharp about this experience. I vividly recall details as if they happened yesterday, but for years these details fluttered in and out of my mind without knowing the actual place. After some research, I believe Goodwood Plantation, north of Tallahassee, Florida was the place in question. At the time of our visit back in the early 1980’s, the place was a bit on the wild side, with the vegetation of the gardens encapsulating the home and outbuildings. There was a restaurant there at the time that has live music. Amazing how brief moments of sight and sound made such an impact on my imagination – an impact that has stayed with me for over thirty years.
Funny how a child’s mind works…the reality of the place, although interesting, is much more sedate than I once imagined. I have no photos of my own from this visit, so I must rely on others to provide the images of a place that I imagined as an outpost of civilization in the wilds of some South American jungle. It really was like Alice must have felt falling down the rabbit hole…
A bubble where a child’s imagination was free and could escape…if only for a time.
Cover photo courtesy of Sweet Southern Days blog.