A couple of weeks ago, my pal the singer/songwriter Gregg McMillan posted an eerie photo taken in the old cemetery in Micanopy. General consensus was that there was something slightly off about the photo, even if what was off was wispy and somewhat indistinct.
If there is something haunted in Northern Florida, it’s likely in Micanopy, a historic town that dates from 1821 and that is today known as a waypost on the tourist trail. In addition, Micanopy is full of Cracker architecture and the types of construction should please any fan of this genre. Those with a liking for the Southern Gothic will find much to admire in the canopied streets with abundant Spanish moss decoration. Micanopy looks like a picture-postcard rural Southern town and as a result was used as a stand-in for hinterland South Carolina in the film Doc Hollywood.
I walked around town, avoiding the antiques stores that had signs admonishing eating, drinking, and picture-taking. Instead, I focused on photographing buildings. The annual Fall Festival had taken place the day before, yet there were no signs of that event. The liveliest thing I saw was a small terrier yapping outside one of the stores. I circled down past the Herlong Mansion (now a bed-and-breakfast) towards the library and then I came back up to the center of town. The day was a perfect Florida autumn day and a short gust of wind even blew a handful of dead leaves across the street. Eventually, I headed over to the cemetery, but the most terrifying thing I saw was some thuggish-looking local youths headed for the same destination. For all I know they might have attired themselves at the mall and were merely fashion thugs, but I didn’t suppose I’d want to try ghostbusting on their turf after dark.
Micanopy has a vibe, and if you’re not into vibes you won’t know what I mean. It’s in the way the vines wrap around the power lines and in the way the trees block the sky. It’s one of those places–Virginia City is another–where you can just about see the parallel plane. It’s a great place to hang out for an afternoon, although it could use a good pub. Antiquers should note that there is a large Smiley’s just off the Micanopy exit on I-75, but be advised that Smiley’s has a militant and hostile attitude towards purses and insists that they be locked up in a stand of metal lockers before you are allowed to browse. Since I haven’t quite gotten the hang of antiquing, I cannot offer any further observations other than to say that there appear to be procedures, practices, and protocols to the experience that are beyond my comprehension. I’m afraid to ask if I might photograph in one of the stores, lest I have missed a sign the size of a 3 x 5 index card that prohibits the activity. Antiquers should note that Micanopy is a major stop on the trail and that bargains/finds aren’t left hanging around for the novice. This isn’t the place to find inexpensive Tiffany lamps or a silver-tipped walking cane belonging to Andrew Jackson. It is a place to observe the antiquer at his avocation, his pickup truck waiting at the curb and already full of a creaky old rocking chair, a dented stove, and a set of andirons.
Micanopy: **** (fifth star not awarded for lack of pub and for lack of obvious restroom facilities–these you must hunt down)