|birdhouse in Micanopy, Florida|
As much as I love the mountains of Colorado (and always will), the charm of "old Florida" with its muggy heat, abundant tropical horticulture, and hard downpours of rain is growing on me.
|me 'n Terri D|
photo by Pam Steiner
And the people. Florida has good people. Many of them, like me, did not originate here but have chosen to make The Sunshine State their home.
Terri D and I became friends via blogging years ago, before I ever dreamed we would be living in the same state, only a 2-hour drive apart. After Beloved and I moved to Florida, we were able to meet in person several times, with our husbands, where a delightful friendship bloomed.
But also we never dreamed that in a span of less than 3 months, we both would be widows due to COVID snatching our husbands from us. With God as our help, we have encouraged each other in this season of grief with our blog posts, emails, and in-person visits. Happily, this weekend was a memory-making time we spent together as she came to see me.
|my local mall|
Ever the planner, I plotted out the weekend ahead of time only to see the first event on my calendar snarled with a tree-trimming project by my gated community. After her arrival we were going to spend time relaxing (and cooling off!) in the tropical resort-style pool. But that had to be postponed while tree branches and palm leaves met with the landscapers.
|Silver Springs State Park|
Silver Springs/Ocala, Florida
Plan B was to get our walking exercise in the air-conditioned comfort of the local mall and then to drive out to Silver Springs State Park. It was too late in the day (and just too hot!) to embark on the glass bottom boat tour, so we just drove out to see it from this perspective and also looped around the small square in downtown Ocala.
After the driving tour of my town, we came home to a supper of soft tacos made with a highly spiced pork roast (inspired by my son, T2), and a fluffy orange salad comprised of Cool Whip, sour cream, orange jello, and canned pineapple and mandarin oranges (what's not to like about THAT?!), courtesy of my DIL, Blondie.
On a more personal note, a few weeks ago I had a day when I just needed to "get outa Dodge," so to speak, to be by myself to ruminate about the direction I was headed and spend time in a pleasant place.
Micanopy came to mind and a day-trip all by myself ensued. It was during that adventure I realized this could be the perfect destination for lunch with girlfriends.
|Coffee 'n Cream has live |
Blue Grass to Soft Rock
The time flew by and all too soon we had to hug Pam and her dolly Lily Grace farewell. Then Terri D and I drove to the outskirts of town to visit one of her friends (who is now my friend, too!). Retiring to a charm-filled home on beautiful acreage, Claire is far from the picture of someone spending her days on the porch thinking about days past. She busies herself daily with vigorous yard upkeep, gardening, canning, brining her own olives, looking in on mom next door, and updating her 1890's house.
|Terri D at the WEC|
As the church service was drawing to a close, a HUGE rainstorm thundered outside, nearly shaking those of us indoors. The rain let up enough for us to get to the car and we took a gamble in proceeding with my plan for us to visit the World Equestrian Center and lunch.
|outdoor arena of the WEC|
Happily, the worst of the rain seemed to have passed, so as long as we carried our umbrellas, we managed just fine. The horses were out jumping and trotting, giving us something fun to watch.
|the 5-star hotel of the World Equestrian Center|
We strolled through several of the shops (very expensive) and the lobby of the hotel (very elegant) eventually finding the real prize of the visit: the horses in the stables.
Some owners post a sign asking visitors to not pet their horses, but others don't seem to mind at all. Terri has horses in her family, so she knows how to talk to them.
|Lasagna at |
Viola and Dot's Pizzeria and Kitchen
I have believed this in my head virtually all my life, but the past eight months have put it to the test for me. I do believe it.