McCulloch, Elizabeth, Dreaming the Marsh

Elizabeth McCulloch was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and lived in New England, the Midwest, Canada, and the South, before putting down roots in Gainesville, Florida, almost forty years ago. Previously a lawyer, then a teacher, she has had children of various stripes: one born, two foster, one step, and the granddaughter she is now raising with her husband. Elizabeth has always loved to read and always wanted to write. She began seriously pursuing her dream over 30 years ago, with pauses in the pursuit for various events and catastrophes. She has completed three novels and is working on a fourth. At her blog, The Feminist Grandma, she writes illustrated personal essays about family, friends, aging, social justice issues, and whatever takes her fancy. At Big Books from Small Presses, she posts illustrated reviews and other essays about books. Both blogs are at her website, When Elizabeth isn’t reading or writing, she sings at a nursing home, swims, gardens, dances, cooks, and has mastered baking pie crusts.

In Dreaming the Marsh (Twisted Road, 2019), a giant sinkhole begins swallowing an enormous swath of a marsh-like ecosystem that has been slated for development, along with parts of a highway and a large lake. The citizens of Opakulla, Florida struggle to understand what is happening as the land is sucked under. They’re also perplexed by un-erasable writing that appears on their new town hall. The sinkhole starts wreaking havoc with their lives and nobody knows what to do about it. A lovesick geologist wants to study it, the real estate developers relish its wild beauty, the mayor and members of the town commission want something done to stop it, and the owner of a local café, who speaks with the Ancients, understands it. But she isn’t telling.

“South of Opakulla, along the straight gray strip of 226, between the “Guns” sign and Missitucknee, stretches the Marsh, old as time. Once it was an ocean, home to fish and the sliding shadows of sharks. Then the ocean fell away, and the sharks left their fierce teeth behind. Rain turned the salt lakes to fresh, ran creeks across the land, seeped down through the lime rock, cut and filled great caverns underground. Grasses, brush, trees and vines grew up and steamed in the Florida sun. Camels grazed in the grasslands; mastodons splashed in the shallow lakes. Millenia melted away, and children playing in the snaky scrub, slapping mosquitoes on their damp faces, found the ancient bones and told stories of giants in the Marsh.”