Having had a humbling Thanksgiving at Cobbtown Acres in Georgia, I was prepared to swing the pendulum to snarky in Florida. That hasn’t happened. I must be getting sentimental. While we are not yet done with this state – folks are telling us to stay through February – I do have a sense of its flow. The flow that mattered, and the reason we’re here, is Adrienne’s flow. I won’t tell her story. If you know you know. It’s enough to say that hugging her and seeing her and Holly make music made my year. I also have a couple of ideas for poems: iguanas falling from trees, and a reincarnated seven-year-old who objects to her current life. Stay tuned.
We started out in Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park in Jacksonville, on the advice of our friend (and amazing person) David. What a park! Jungle terrain, walk to the ocean, bike on the beach, mountain biking (without mountains), and a bunch of cool people. We enjoyed meeting Brian (IG @wuzabus), a traveling bus builder. We also met Mike and his dog Mayzie. Mike is a self described political and economic refugee from California. Holly made him soup and homemade bread. I think he felt at home with us.
From Jacksonville, we made our way to the Lake Okeechobee area for a free stay at the DuPuis Campground, run by the South Florida Water Management District. There are five such districts in the state, and we just learned that this land is part of a 17 million acre wildlife corridor project making contiguous natural habitats from the Everglades north to Georgia and Alabama. We were amazed at the dark sky, the luscious terrain, the birds. We saw anhingas, pileated woodpeckers, buzzards, red shoulder hawks, egrets, herons, wood storks, palm warblers, black and white warblers, blue gray gnat catchers and certainly many we missed.
It was while camping at DuPuis that Ponyboy died. I’ve posted my thoughts on social media, and I won’t repeat them here. We really miss him.
What is new to us is seeing Johnny getting by without his brother. While we love relationships with animals, we won’t project human feelings onto them. Johnny is adapting and, frankly, finding his own solo flow. He’s a great cat, and is becoming inquisitive and adventurous. He certainly misses Ponyboy in his own way. They used to cuddle all the time.
A major change in bus life is how our social relationships have changed. I can’t stress enough how profound this change is. It involves loss – those we no longer see – new friends, however fleeting, and changing relationships with family and old friends. Holly and I are also together virtually 100% of the time. We really miss Natalie and Drew. We haven’t seen them since April, and now that Natalie is pregnant (we’ll be grandparents in July!), our emotions are heightened. We did just have a chance to see Adrienne. For me, it’s been almost two years. Seeing her gives me energy to keep things moving. I also got to bring social media to life by meeting friends from high school whom I hadn’t seen in 42 years.
I don’t mention my old job much. That’s because I don’t think about it often. I do get periodic OSHA updates, and it is good to see that school safety has improved since my retirement.
We’re not done with Florida. I’ll turn 60 in a couple days deep in the Everglades. We may also linger near the gulf coast for a while. Who knows . . . Holly and I are still in love with our new life and with each other. What else is there? I’ll put this writing away and think about a poem. One of the little girls in this pic got me thinking.
Until next time, Holly and I wish everyone well. Be sure to follow our IG @a_bus_named_sandy. There’s different stuff there.