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Happy In The Hippy House

Discovering "The Real Florida" for the first time.

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I’ve always been bountifully blessed when it comes to living near nature.

Between ages 5 to 10 my family lived a literal stones throw from a 100 acre corn field in central New York State. From ages 10 to 18 we lived a block from a Florida beach, where surfing became my religion. And when I moved inland to central North Florida to go to college I discovered what our state park system calls “The Real Florida”.

After a couple of years of majoring in not much of anything at the University of Florida, I took a break from higher education. While my college roommate went off to Harvard Med School, I went off to hippy school in the North Florida woods.

After dropping out of school I first got a job at a plant nursery on campus, where I met a friend who lived on five acres down a long dirt road way out in the country. He generously invited some of us wannabe hippy kind of people to live out on his land in what was to become perhaps the smallest hippie commune of the seventies. My friend lived in an old mobile home with a screened in front porch, there were some hippie ladies living in tents, a guy who built a cabin entirely out of discarded lumber he found at the landfill, and me in my hippy house.

I don’t have any photos from that time as nobody was in to cameras back then (live in the moment man!!), so I carefully reconstructed my old hippy house in the 3D software Sketchfab, and exported it to the video at the top of this page.

As you can see, my hippy house had a small bedroom downstairs, and a little storage space for my literal handful of worldly possessions. The 2nd floor was a wide open screen room with a 360 degree view of the woods. And that was where I came to know “The Real Florida” for the first time.

Our “commune” was ridiculous, but we were in our twenties so we didn’t know that. Ignorance is bliss! We spent a lot of time tending to a big vegetable garden, and hoeing our half acre peanut and soybean “farm” that was supposedly going to bring in enough cash for us to live on, or something. Who knows what we were thinking, if anything at all.

As you might expect, the commune didn’t last all that long, and my friend eventually sold that land and moved even farther out in the country. We grew up, moved on, got married, took real jobs, maybe raised some kids, payed the mortgage, and otherwise left the life of country hillbilly commune hippies behind.

The one thing I didn’t leave behind was the real treasure I was so lucky to find in my little hippy house, a love of North Florida nature. The peace of the woods found it’s way in to my soul in that hippy house, and will be part of who I am for the rest of my life.

Today my wildlife loving, still kind of a hippy, wife and I live on the edge of town just seven quick miles down a scenic highway from a big largely empty state park filled to overflowing with The Real Florida. I’m so grateful to have spent countless days in the park over the last 20 years. Eternal thanks go out to my old friend who let me build my little hippy house on his land, and for introducing me to where I really belong.

Here are a few photos to give you a little taste of the hippy seventies. If you’d like to see more North Florida nature photos, look here.

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This section of TannyTalk celebrates the beauty of the natural world. Here's a glorious glimpse of what we're preserving for our descendants when we seek the end of nuclear weapons.
Phil Tanny