Editor’s Note: Hit Me Like a Hurricane
When my family and I returned to Florida five years ago, we took comfort in the fact that nearly 50 years had passed since a hurricane directly hit the Jacksonville area. According to local lore, Jacksonville didn’t really have hurricanes. Something to do with the shape of the coast-line up here. Well, we saw how wrong that wives tale was over the past two hurricane seasons. People in our office lost entire homes to Irma. The month of September was a blur of debris clean-up. Most everyone I knew from Key West to Tallahassee had been displaced, and I think my husband chainsawed half of the trees in our town. The whole state united in fear and then came together again in an effort to recover (and get the kids back in school).
By the time this issue hits newsstands, Irma will be a distant memory for some, but, for many, it will be an ongoing nightmare of insurance claims and rebuilding. We’ve decided to give readers permission to laugh at our collective situation in Diane Roberts’s column “’Cane ’Cane Go Away.” Glimpses of storms past and present pop up throughout this edition. In our profile of Flip Pallot, Florida’s legendary angler recounts the time Hurricane Andrew ripped off the roof of his home while he and his wife hunkered down inside.
That being said, Flamingo’s Outside Issue is an ode to Florida’s amazing climate, not to our hurricanes. We take stock of how Floridians enjoy the winter months—on the water, at the beach, down a trail, in the backcountry and around new places.
The sisters behind the blog Palm Beach Lately head to Amelia Island to do just that in “When North Meets South.” Then writer Steve Dollar takes us inside the mind of best-selling sci-fi novelist Jeff VanderMeer, who reveals the Florida wilderness that became his muse in “10 Seconds from Now.” And, in a portrait series by photographer Mary Beth Koeth that has nothing to do with Mother Nature and everything to do with Father Christmas, we meet some of Santa’s sandy helpers. As our gift to readers for the holidays, we also introduce a new column called Panhandling, sunny dispatches by author Prissy Elrod. Expect to laugh—hard.
Volume 8 completes two full years of Flamingo. Along with hurricane preparedness, we’ve learned a lot about our readers in that time. This fall, one woman wrote to say she bought the last issue of Flamingo because she was intrigued by its content. But she hated the vintage image of Gregg Allman on the cover so much that she ripped it off and threw it away. “How could you choose a photo so unbecoming of Gregg?” she asked. She ended by saying that she might still subscribe. I love this letter, for better or worse, because it represents the passion we want to tap into as an editorial team. To be sure, many reached out to say how much they loved seeing a young Allman with his long hair and shades on our cover. But the ripping reader reminds us that we all see the world through different lenses. And we’re in this business to create content that moves people.
Our current cover, while not a vintage photo, celebrates an heirloom boat. Every component of the image is rooted in the Sunshine State, from the couple and the wooden runabout to the photographer who captured the shot. Inside and out, Flamingo aims to celebrate real Florida. I hope that you will tear into it.