Wakulla Springs is a state park now and it's one of my most favorite places here in North Florida and when people come from out of town, I love to take them there. This is what Florida was like, not only before Disney but before white people. And, in fact, before people of any kind. The spring head itself is supposedly one of the largest in the world and the skeletons of mastodons and saber toothed tigers have been uncovered in the soft sand around the spring head and it's a fine place to swim in the summer, the water staying at 68 degrees year-round. There's an old lodge there where people can still stay and a beautiful old dining room and a snack bar and gift shop and it's like stepping back in time to go there.
So. We drove down there today and had lunch in the dining room and then took the jungle boat ride and in the space of one hour we saw countless turtles and many alligators, so many birds including a bald eagle and a pair of ospreys, whistling themselves across the sky, great blue herons, white herons, white ibis, so many varieties of ducks, anhingas, AND a manatee.
Not Disney. Not at all. Those gators may look fake but honey, they are as real as real can be.
After all my years going there, I still get a thrill when I enter the park. There is a feeling of genuineness, of no guile, of good memories of spending half of the summer I was pregnant with Lily in those springs, submersed in the cold water as my body grew so heavy with my growing baby inside, Hank and May swimming like little fishes, us all eating snack bar food, making the most of a summer pregnancy in Florida. I was the largest living land mammal and those springs gave me comfort and pleasure when little else did.
I officiated a wedding there once, and it was the biggest wedding I ever did. It was a beautiful ceremony and the couple is still married, still very much in love, years later.
And so, sharing that place with Scott and Yolie and Kaleb with Lily there meant a lot to me.
I think they enjoyed it as well. I hope so. I only took two pictures because I discovered that my phone was almost out of battery. That was one. Here is the other.
Magnolia on her first boat ride and she slept through it all.
And so when Scott and Yolie and Kaleb dropped me off in Lloyd, I felt an even deeper connection with them. We talked a lot today and I learned so much more about their histories. Such incredible people and what incredible lives they have led! It's just mind-blowing to someone like me who is so home-centered, who has lived in one area for over forty years. And yet, it doesn't make me feel inferior- just- this is who they are, this is who I am. Here we are. And how fortunate I am to meet such people.
And as I went to hug them good-bye, I teared up. This whole meeting and time together just feels like a perfect example of "meant to be" although you know me- I don't really believe in that hippie shit.
Except of course I do.
And there you go. Ancient waters, new, ancient? friends, daughter, grandchildren, new memories to add to old, good food, funny little boys, the bluest sky ever, perfect temperature and humidity, and absolutely no anxiety.
What the fuck?
Yet one more reason to ask- how the hell did I get so lucky?