First-time travelers to Florida often imagine the state as just a vacationland or a swamp-a place to visit and to leave behind. But the writers in this collection discover the truth that everyone who's lived in the state knows. When you venture into Florida you won't find what you expect, and what you do find will stay with you forever. The authors of these essays come to Florida for different reasons. Love, fortune, family, rest, natural beauty, or a fresh start. They encounter a place so diverse that it defies easy categorization. Lauren Groff describes her experience settling in Florida after growing up in the Northeast and finds an affinity with the strong-willed writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who grew to resent the cities of her past and embraced the wild lands that inspired The Yearling. Cuban-born Susannah Rodriguez Drissi travels to Miami and learns what the city does and doesn't mean for Cuban Americans. Deesha Philyaw comes to the state to care for her mother, who is dying of cancer. Rick Bragg seeks out the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico and writes about how it was threatened by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In these stories, Florida is more than a setting-it's a character of its own. It stirs up hurricanes and rainstorms, enchants with natural springs and cypress forests, and endures in the face of pollution. For all of these writers, Florida is a force that brings about moments of personal insight and growth, a place where hard lessons are learned and true joy is experienced. Their essays illustrate that the places we inhabit put a stamp on us, even if we only call them home for a season.