On Saturday, after years and years of waiting, I finally turned 62 years old. To some of you, I probably seem ancient; to a few others, I’m just a young pup. To the rest, I’m in good company.
Over the years I’ve become indifferent to having a birthday. Yes, the alternative would be worse, but I’m just too much of an introvert to want a big deal made of it. Small gestures are the best: goodies from Australia; Facebook messages with birthday emojis; a shower of Tweets; thoughtful cards from friends and coworkers. The small gestures make me feel loved but not overwhelmed.
I took Friday off work with the vague idea of going to a beach. All I knew is I wanted to wade and experience that bit of Florida that I don’t often make time for, the salty side of Florida.
We headed out and did what we do best–make up our plans as we go. First stop was The Edward Ball Dining Room at the Lodge in Wakulla Springs.
It’s an “old-timey” kind of dining room, spacious with tall windows, tables covered with heavy white tablecloths, low black leather swivel chairs. The Lodge’s website will give you the best feel of the place: https://thelodgeatwakullasprings.com/. It tends to be dark inside so I decided against trying to take pictures.
We had a wonderful lunch. The last time we had eaten at the Lodge was in March 2001, a few days before I was to have major surgery. The menu then was good but definitely heavy on Southern cuisine. It’s improved since with more salad options and vegetarians entrees. The Lodge also includes a soda fountain so, yeah, ice cream for dessert.
Back in the car with full bellies. It’s already late afternoon but we’re on our way again. My desired goal is to go to Mashes Sands Beach, a semi-secluded beach that we’d only been to a couple of times before, the last time almost two years ago, another “Living in the Moment” experience: https://1writeway.com/2016/07/05/living-in-the-moment-mashes-sands-and-more-fiddler-crabs-nature-fiddler-crabs/ .
We made another but slight detour, this time to the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory Aquarium. Another place we had not been to in years. As we toured the tanks, a young docent attached herself to me, making sure I got to meet and greet each urchin, starfish, and whelk they had. What’s a whelk, you ask? It’s a gastropod, or mollusk. Some, like the crown conch, are herbivores, but the whelks can be downright cannibalistic. Here are some scenes from the Marine Lab.
The Lab was great fun, especially for the little kids. We also saw nurse sharks and manta rays being fed. The aquarium part of the Lab is not huge; it’s rather modest and comparatively low-tech, but it’s purpose is more to educate than entertain.
From the Lab, we headed to Mashes Sands where we waded, Greg taking photographs of insects and me looking for signs of marine life. Thanks to our visit at the Lab, I had the added benefit of being able to name what I saw.
I’m not a swimmer, although I know how to swim, and I’m a bit afraid of deep water because I know I’m likely to not be alone (especially in Florida where the bays teem with sharks, and rivers and lakes teem with alligators and snakes). But I love being near water. In these moments, I feel like I could forget and just exist in peace.
My photographs of Mashes Sands pale compare to those of David Moynahan. Here’s some real eye candy: https://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2019/1/mashes-sands
To bring the day to a perfect close, on our way back home, we spied this:
That white speck is an albino squirrel. First one I ever saw in my life.
This was by far the best day I had in a long time, spent with the love of my life, cavorting with Nature. I hope you enjoyed it too.
Thanks for coming by to visit!
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.