“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” Martin Buber
I ran to the gate this morning. Me, the non-runner. I didn’t do it because my oldest sister is in a cardiac intensive care unit in a central Florida hospital, although I thought a lot about hearts while I ran. Mine felt heavy, oversized, and lumpy.
I ran because that’s what my legs wanted to do. They were sending me a message. Get movin’, girl. Look at those wild blueberry bushes busting out into pale lavender bells on your right. Check out the Louisiana Irises coming up like green spears from the streambed. How about that old dog, matching you step for step as you run?
Less than a half mile from the house, the gate to the main road stopped me. I opened it to fetch the newspaper. Our old carrier used to pull into the short driveway and toss it over the gate, but the first day the daily excuse appeared outside the gate and close to the main road, I knew the gravy train had ended and we were back to being normal folk. Ah, well. It was good while it lasted.
I turned back to the gate, looked up at that magnificent oak tree a few feet inside, and fell in love with these woods all over again.
Buck and I took a short road trip down to southwest Florida recently to visit our good friends, Roy and Bette, who live on Pine Island near Ft. Myers. I saw nesting ospreys for the first time. We walked the short street of their waterfront neighborhood with their lovable Weimaraner, Maggie Moo, and watched a good-natured tussle between Maggie and her buddy Mango, a stocky white Labrador.
Roy taught me how to “proof” frozen biscuits from the supermarket in a 200 degree oven for about 12 minutes to force them into rising, then raise the temperature to 350 and finish cooking them. The resulting catheads are lighter than air and irresistible. He taught us the sheer pleasure of having the perfect tool of a well-seasoned crepe pan to warm leftover biscuits cut in half and smeared with butter to eat with sourwood honey and good coffee on a fine morning. Bette and Roy convinced me my nervousness about using a gas grill is misplaced, especially after learning that they use theirs almost every day, from breakfast through dinner. They grilled black grouper and served it with butterfly pasta tossed with homemade pesto. That grouper was out of this world.
When we left, after two days and nights of great talk, they sent us off with a generous wedge of Roy’s chocolate caramel pecan pie for the road. Coffee and pie kept me wired and on a sugar high all the way home.
We had planned to spend more time on the road, but having gotten our “fix” of fellowship with our good friends, we found ourselves eager to get home to the woods and our own Maggie.
I forget sometimes that I live in a piney woods bubble. It is a place where I can come and go at will and participate in urbia or sub, explore art museums, be a culture vulture, jump in the car and drive until I find some big city traffic or hop a plane to a faraway place. But when I come through that gate, the one in the picture, I enter an oasis of calm, a retreat where longtime lovers can walk together in the cool of the evening and where I can breathe all the way from my rose-painted toes to the cowlick on the back of my head.
The language of photography informs me: field, ground, focus, zoom in, zoom out. Click.
I’m not that good at being a tourist because I’m always looking at the way the light shines in your hair or the way your dress opens to the wind & my favorite places in the world are places filled with you.” –Brian Andreas
Update: My sweet angel of an older brother, Wally, left a message for me this afternoon that Ann is out of the CCU and into a regular room, with anticipation of being released in a day or two. My lumpy, heavy heart feels a little lighter tonight.