“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
What a gloriously beautiful Easter. It started out a bit chilly at Sunrise Services, the 52nd annual Easter Sunrise Service over at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, but the warmth of the audience with their sweet spirit of support, close to 200 on such an early morning, the beauty of the flowers that were beautifully arranged and delivered and shared with love by Cathy Jo Foster of Sunsation’s in Jasper, Florida, the impressive program which was delivered by those who lovingly volunteer their time and talents each year, and especially to Sister Veronica Thomas of White Springs Congregational Holiness Church, White Springs, Florida, who delivered a marvelous Easter message about HOPE and to Rev. Randy Ogburn, White Springs, District 4 County Commissioner and pastor of Watertown Congregational Methodist Church, who does a superb job as the emcee for the program each year. Thanks goes out too, to the wonderful staff of Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, Manny Perez, Park Manager, especially to Park Ranger Kim Rivers, and Director or Programming, Elaine McGrath. There’s not a more beautiful site anywhere on earth for an Easter Sunrise program. The symphony of birds singing, the beauty of the magnificent carillon bells playing traditional Easter hymns. If that doesn’t get you going, go to the doctor, you may have a thumping gizzard where your heart is supposed to be, and let’s not forget Shauna Adams-Farries and her daughter, Raylan, who catered our refreshments following the event, and Imogene Bullock, White Springs, who designed a beautiful program.
The program this year was dedicated in loving memory of the late Deacon “Wash” Newsome. Wash was a faithful participant in the Easter Sunrise Program for as long as I recall, and I went to the very first one in 1967, and have attended most since then. I missed two in all that time, once I was out of the country in 1974, and about 1999, I was dead sick with the flu and my brother Jerry Lawrence “filled in” for me.
In all those years, there is something very special about this particular service and it’s one that relates somewhat of a different slant to some tales of our area. In a small, typically Southern town in the Deep South with all the traditions and teachings implied therein, people of each race and all congregations in the community have shared the most holy holiday on the Christian calendar coming together collectively as a “people” to worship the Lord together. To me, at least, that says something about a spirit of love and inclusiveness, and I am proud I was reared in a community when this existed before the signs “white only” and “colored only” still hung above restrooms, water fountains, waiting rooms at doctor and dental offices and in some businesses were removed. Lots of folks include on their announcements: Everyone Welcome. In White Springs, Florida, the community meant that and demonstrates it each year on Easter Sunday. On Easter in White Springs, those signs for a brief period of time, held no meaning. I have always felt that this is fairly remarkable. I still do. Next year will be year 53 on April 12, 2020. If you’ve never attended, come join us. You will be glad you did.
Speaking of remarkable, I would be remiss if I did not mention the beautiful Heritage Park on Helvenston Street, the former P.C. Crapps Estate. I took some time and walked through a short while ago, and I was more than favorably impressed. What an undertaking and what a crowning achievement for Suwannee County and the extended area. Such a beautiful place to enjoy with family and friends in lovely surroundings. “Hats Off” to Live Oak and Suwannee County not only for having a vision for the property but for making a vision a reality. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
Now, not too terribly long ago, I drove to Mayo. I have to be very honest, while Lafayette County is a beautiful county, I seldom have reason to go there unless I am driving that way on my way to Steinhatchee to eat at one of that town’s wonderful seafood restaurants. This time, I drove to Mayo to eat at the Great Southern Biscuit Company. I had heard of it, and I wasn’t disappointed. In a word, delicious. Since I am a bit of a purist, I ordered the first biscuit just plain and buttered it and shared half with a friend to see what all the hoopla was about. I found out, as that wonderful biscuit melted in my mouth. Now, I have reason to travel to Mayo more often. A pleasant drive, and I always love crossing the Hal Adams Memorial Bridge across the Suwannee River, oh, and on the way, I stopped near Luraville at Taylor’s Store, and I enjoyed some “off the chain” chicken gizzards, fried to perfection. Love, love, love them. I returned to White Springs, sated and satisfied, full of buttermilk biscuit and fried chicken gizzards shared with a wonderful friend on a beautiful day here in our home “Around the Banks of the Suwannee.”
Well, I have gone, here, there, and everywhere around the region with my column this week, except one, if you want to see some picturesque countryside and beautiful wildflowers, take a drive on 129 towards Branford, turn east on 252 going from McAlpin over to Wellborn and if you haven’t had quite enough, take 137 through Wellborn and intersect with 136 and drive back to Live Oak. They are soon going to be at their peak, the vibrant pastels of phlox and the deep gold and yellow of wild coreopsis, brown-eyed Susan’s, are hard to beat. Get out and go…
From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all lots of love and laugher.