WEEK TWENTY-THREE: REDFISH HOLE

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Redfish Hole is not exactly what it seems.  Yes, it is a popular fishing spots for locals, but it is really about so much more than fish.  Due to a natural ridge that extends far out into the marshes, the Hole offers one the rare opportunity to wander through everything from scrubby flatwoods to tidal salt marshes, and to experience close up and in all seasons the remarkable details of those communities.  On a recent visit, I was taken by the pluck of the little mangrove seedling on the right, valiantly trying to reestablish a forest along this coast.

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WEEK TWENTY-TWO: LOW TIDE

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When I was a small child, my parents rented a summer cottage on Cape Cod Bay.  I awoke the first morning at dawn, excited about a day at the beach.  As I peered out the window that faced the bay, I was astonished and crushed to find that the glittering sea from the evening before was now all sand, as far as my eye could see. Based on my limited experience with contained water, all I could think was that a very powerful someone had pulled the plug and let it all drain away.  It was a tragic thought back then, but sometimes I wish I could recapture that simple naive way of experiencing life.

Last week, I was drawn to our local fishing pier by the knowledge that the moon would be setting toward the pier, shortly after sunrise and at low tide.  So there I was, in the half-dark on a finger-numbing February morning, no sound save the soft Gulf breeze, gingerly stepping through the wet marsh to find a pleasing composition.  For just a moment, I was visited with child-like simplicity and wondered. Is the tide following the moon over the western horizon or is it the other way around, the moon being dragged by the receding tide?  Or are they locked in a celestial dance with neither leading, both just drifting away to the west?

WEEK TWENTY-ONE: ROADS LESS TRAVELED

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My parents moved our family to Florida back in the mid-60s. The space program was just taking off at Cape Canaveral, Orlando was a sleepy town in the heart of a thriving agricultural belt and, each spring, the sweet smell of orange blossoms filled the air across central Florida.  Much has changed in this state, but off the beaten path on meandering two-lane roads, Florida’s farm and ranch land remains pretty much the way it was back then and for hundreds of years before.

This photo was made from a dirt road off Rte. 60 in Osceola County.  The sign said “private property” but I figured whoever owned this land would not deny me my simple enjoyment of it.

WEEK TWENTY: LIFE’S A PARTY

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Being happy just seems like a reasonable goal in life.  Yes, it seems a bit egocentric, but if you’re happy, it stands to reason that your happy frame of mind will rub off on others.  In recent months, I’ve been consciously trying to identify things that fall into my personal happiness bucket and I’ve observed that adventure is one of those things.  Adventure, for me, is pretty broadly defined – a new experience, ideally with loved ones to enrich that experience.

Last weekend, Peter and I met up with my sister’s beautiful family to enjoy two things that met that definition of adventure – a blue grass music festival in Yeehaw Junction, Florida, and an overnight at a dude ranch.  In the course of 48 hours, I learned about glamping and railcar cabins, bluegrass groupies, zip-lines and baby goats. I experienced the delicious wet saltiness of boiled peanuts while sidestepping cow patties and attended an honest-to-goodness rodeo (yes, this was my first rodeo), complete with bull-riding and barrel racing.  One niece mentored Peter on the art of getting the bartender’s attention in a crowded saloon and the other introduced me to Marcel the Shell (look it up).  And, through the magic of text messaging, my daughter taught me how to look fashionable wearing cowboy boots, although that was pretty much a bust.  I was exhausted…and genuinely happy.