“Those (expletive deleted) are the biggest I’ve ever seen!” Eloquent profanity often rolled off our dear friend the late, great Joe Baker’s tongue.

His salty language cost him at least one job but asking which white zinfandel tastes best deserves a brusque reply. “Taller than the ones in Miami,” he snorted. I never paid much attention to the palm trees scattered across the Livingston homestead. The trees had been around for decades, a testimony to my great-grandmother Ida’s green thumb.  But they certainly weren’t native.

I’m a pine tree man so it tore me up to see native longleaf pines yanked up and replaced by palms. One palm, the cabbage palm (sable palmetto), is native throughout Florida, hopefully the Seaside/Watercolor marketing gurus used a South Walton original.

I’m only offended as a pine tree man but replacing native grasses with sod, someone needs their head examined. We should market South Walton as different.  “Slow down, you’re here.” Pines and palms are drought-tolerant and require little fertilizer or maintenance.

Sod, unfortunately, must be cut, irrigated and dosed heavily with nitrogen, which can leach into coastal dune lakes. Deep sandy soils can’t hold nitrogen fertilizer, trust me I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Georgia’s School of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Sod has a deleterious effect on our iconic dune lakes and paved parking lots aren’t the only way to screw up paradise.

The Board of County Commissioners is also considering changes that could allow for masonry walls along 30A. No the vistas aren’t like they were in 1986 when I first came here, but South Walton doesn’t need to look like South Florida. Visitors and potential emigrants want something different from what the rest of the state offers. I am convinced it’s good for us financially and psychically.

In “Field of Dreams,” James Earl Jones’ character reminds Kevin Costner’s that people have money but they don’t have peace. “They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.” 

As a financial planner I promise you simple solutions often work better than complex ones.

 Marketing Michael Sam

There is no doubt Michael Sam can play ball. He scored a touchdown against my beloved Georgia Bulldogs and that works for me. Even though he was SEC Defensive Player of the Year his skills may not transfer to the next level. Sam played a down line position in college and the offensive lineman on the next level are bigger and faster.

Sam coming out publicly may enhance his draft status, yielding a larger signing bonus. Brian Bosworth marketed himself into a then-record contract.  Sell the sizzle and not the steak; see Tim Tebow’s first round deal. Tom Brady, on the other hand, was almost overlooked in the draft. UGA’s Terrell Davis, who should be in the NFL Hall of Fame, had a pedestrian college career in no small part due to a woefully inept college coach. College stats do not translate directly to NFL stardom. 

I wish Michael Sam all the luck in the world and if this is a marketing ploy it makes better sense than planting sod along 30A. 

Buz Livingston, CFP, has a Blue Mountain Beach based fee-only, hourly financial planning and investment management firm.  For more information, visit www.livingstonfinancial.net or come by our new office at 2050 Scenic 30A, M1-Unit 230, Redfish Village.