The diversity of this country’s people is almost as broad and unique as its landscapes. Growing up on the east coast surrounded by colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War history, which I considered the important stuff, it has been easy to forget or fail to see the other histories in the United States. Mexico, Spanish, Native American and even the French, controlled parts of this country only several generations ago. These influences are felt and apparent today in architecture, art, food, culture and even the spirit of a place. Somewhere I heard that America is less of melting pot and more of a salad, and I believe that is more accurate. The people in New York might be tomatoes, while Texas is a pepper, and Oregon a cucumber, the regions all play a part in this dish. Onions may be disliked by some, it does not mean they do not have value and add to the medley.
The more Alayne and I travel around this country, the more I realize that there are many different Americas. As I write this we are in the town of Cedar Key, Florida where the local mantra is, “If it can go well, it will.” This is a very optimistic view for a town that most would consider sleepy with limited options. Yet, the residents and visitors alike smile, wave and laugh with regularity. This remote island town, almost an hour away from any “real” civilization, is contented to go its own way. In places like this that resist “Starbucking,” the homogenization of America, where the locals feel little need to keep up with the Jones’s or anyone else for that matter, feel authentic and real. The American spirit of freedom and independence is alive here. Often it seems the further one is away from “civilization,” the more civilized and community oriented the people are.