Oh, Florida, how you challenge and delight me. Your offerings are many, your challenges diverse. My time here bringing blessings and frustrations and beauty and bugs. I am working hard to know you better, dear Florida, and not judge you from this small place where I now stay.
I am not generally a warm or hot weather seeker. My happy place is in the cool of the mountains. However, I have family that live on the beach so that is where I find myself every once in a while and where I find myself at present. I am enjoying the endless and vast expanse of sun and sand and surf, and I am continually amazed by the endless and vast expanses of bodies. I mean, every type, every size, every shape and age. They are all here. The best part is that nobody seems to care. Florida, you have given safe haven to every body of every type of every size and shape and for that I am grateful. This is certainly the place to let it all go and let it all hang out.
I am working hard, too, dear Florida, to know you in a deeper and more meaningful way. I try to stay out of the touristy places and spend time in your natural areas. I am trying to embrace the diversity I find in your estuaries and your byways, your breweries and restaurants, your farmers markets and your outdoor malls. I am trying to find and appreciate your depth. It does get hard, though. I have to say that I find more streets than trails, more housing developments than campgrounds, and more destruction than preservation. That just makes you like most places I visit; for sale to the highest bidder.
My purpose here is specific, Florida, which is why my perspective is not as grand as perhaps it could be. My time is spent with the aged, the hard of hearing, the technologically challenged and physically limited. Those with medications and dietary restrictions, doctor appointments and an ever decreasing scope of world knowledge. I suppose that is what happens the more years we spend on this earth. I appreciate you, Florida, for giving safe haven to the folks who need it, with weather that is warm and services that are near. Your straight and flat roads bore me to tears, but provide stress free travel for those with diminishing capacities. I appreciate that about you, Florida.
Admittedly, I am not taking off into the wilds of your deep south to see your everglades or reefs or quiet bays. I am not driving the keys or boating the islands. I am staying mostly true to my purpose here and, to be honest, I really do not feel like driving that far for that long anyway. I am here to bask in and enjoy your beaches, escaping the snowy winter of the North, but also spend irreplaceable time with aging parents. I am here to help them in whatever way they want or need. Spend time that will one day be gone. Florida, you are a haven for my folks and their friends. You make their lives easier and for that I am grateful.
I will explore more of you when I leave. I will travel up towards the Panhandle, circumventing the coast as it leads me West. Again on the road, again in new and unfamiliar territory. I look forward to knowing this part of you, Florida, your nature and your history, your trails and your territory. I am learning to adjust to the heat and the sun, enjoying a dip in the pool and the brown on my skin. I am learning there is more to you than Disney and trinkets and seniors who drive way too slow.
Thank you, Florida, for this time and for keeping my loved ones and their friends safe. I thank you for weather that presents few challenges and services that are unending. I appreciate this place to visit and explore and I will try hard to overlook and overcome your tourist and traffic challenges.
Cheers to sun and sand and surf and getting all we can out of our time on this earth.