“You know, I was thinkin’ the other day how resourcefulness is a necessary part of being a successful Floridian,” said the old man to his young friend who was perched at the end of the dock, bamboo fishin’ pole in hand.
“There’s lots of people spend lots of money to live comfortably in Florida when all that spendin’ ain’t really necessary at all,” he said.
His young friend looked up at him from under her wide-brimmed straw hat.
“What’re you talkin’ about, uncle?” she asked.
“I mean, look around you. We paid no more than a song for this here cabin and look how rich we are. We got all the food we can catch. We got the biggest swimmin’ pool anywhere and this ol’ cabin has weathered ever’ storm it’s seen.”
“I guess resourcefulness is a sorta way of life when live close to Florida nature,” said the young girl. “But it manifests itself in a lot of ways.
“I was readin’ the other day where a bunch of farm workers in Central Florida were spendin’ the lean workin’ month of August pickin’ palmetty berries from the woods,” she said.
“Oh yeah,” said the old man. “We used to make a pretty good wine from them berries. But you can get in trouble with the G-men for doin’ that today. Them berries still help the bees make a darn fine honey.”
“Well accordin’ to what I read, the farm workers did get in a little trouble with the sheriff who kept makin’ ‘em dump their harvest because he thought the berries were bein’ used to make wine,” said the young woman.
“But that’s not why they was pickin’ ‘em. They was out there bravin’ rattlers to send them berries overseas, to Europe and Asia where they berries are apparently used to make medicine for prostrate and urinary-tract infections.
“That’s not surprisin’,” chuckled the old man. “Considerin’ what I’ve done more than a few times to them palmetty bushes.”
“That’s not the point,” said the young woman. “The point is that them farm workers were bein’ resourceful, usin’ their slack time to pick the berries and make four times as much money as they would workin’ on the farm durin’ pickin’ season.
“That Florida resourcefulness also manifests itself in other , more sophisticated ways,” said the young woman. “I was also readin’ the other day about the professors up in Gainesville who developed a machine that peels the skin off fruit and shellfish so northerners don’t have to get their hands all sticky peelin’ oranges and shrimp.”
“Do tell,” said the old man. “How does that machine work?”
“It apparently works by usin’ steam to expand the layer of water found just beneath the skin of fruit and shellfish,” she said. “As the steam is released a vacuum is applied and the separated skin just drops from the fruit like it was never there to begin with.
“They claim an orange doesn’t lose one drop of juice, although I’ll bet the steam cooks the shrimp quite a bit,” she said.
“Yeah, but most folks like their shrimp cooked a might,” said the old man.
“Anyway, these two professors got a patent for their machine,” said the young woman. “But right now, it’s about the size of a 55-gallon drum. That’s not the sorta thing that’s goin’ to go well as a Christmas present under the tree. And it’s too small for commercial uses.”
“They’ll work on it,” said the old man. “I figure two professors who’re smart enough to figure out that much will be smart enough to whittle down their invention to the size that can fit on a counter-top in one of them fancy houses that you don’t need in the first place,”
“I reckon’,” said the young woman. “Now I wish somebody would be resourceful enough to tell me how to get these trout to bite so we can have some breakfast.”