I’ve been disappointed in myself lately. I haven’t been out for as many sunrises or sunsets. Maybe I was just too lazy, I thought. Or maybe, just maybe, the morning coffee with someone to talk with was the reason. And chatting over dinner might just result in the sunset happening right outside the window and I never noticed. So I’ve given up one obsession for another, well, maybe not obsession, but certainly a lovely distraction. I feel very lucky. And those sunrises and sunsets keep happening, so that when I do head out the door there they are. The big question on this day, which was last Monday, was whether we would reach Edgewater Park before the sun sank totally beneath the horizon. Traffic was annoyingly slow, and we were actually heading to a photo editing opportunity in Clearwater, so we weren’t stopping for the sunset. Nope, I was just shooting out the window of the car as we now seemed to be whizzing past. I was happy to see that I managed a couple of usable shots. And a selfie!
I have become a bah humbug sort of person. I don’t say that proudly, or lightly even. I grew up with a reverence for the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, and I loved making Christmas for my own kids through the years. Growing up in a big Italian family there were many treats to be had at Christmas that we didn’t see for the rest of the year. As the daughter of a fireman and a nurse I spent the major holidays at my aunt’s house, with my working parents coming and going, plus lots of relatives dropping in to visit. Special times that I couldn’t have appreciated at the time what treasured memories they would turn out to be. So when I got married and moved away I did my best to recreate the holidays I treasured. I made lasagna for Christmas dinner, something the family had switched over to some time in my preteen years when they decided that they were ITALIAN, for goodness sake, and weren’t going to duplicate the Thanksgiving dinner at Christmas anymore. I made the Italian cookies that are flavored with anise. I made strufoli, the tiny honey balls we only had at Christmas, and, when I could find it, I bought Torrone, a nougat candy that came in individual boxes that were exquisite little works of art in themselves. For many years Christmas was a wonderful time of year. But those days are long past, the kids are grown and gone, and even the grandchildren are grown. It feels like the media has taken over all aspects of life, including the holiday, and you can’t escape the pressure to be HAPPY, to spend more and more money. The meaning is lost, hence bah humbug.
With my bad attitude I have disappointed the new special person in my life who still treasures Christmas. Our first Christmas together and he didn’t expect my usual light-hearted self to just want to get this whole thing over with. We will visit his relatives for Christmas, and when a discussion of what to have for Christmas dinner came up my offer to make lasagna was accepted. That perked me up a little. It really warmed my heart when my daughter said that she is making lasagna for her crew too, and she is making strufoli for the first time in years! Now I will make strufoli too. I collected all my recipes yesterday, and my friend wanted to stop at the nice Italian deli near him, and I wondered out loud if I might find Torrone there. Boy, did I ever! Torrone in the little boxes. Torrone cut into wedges like a slice of layer cake, some topped with chocolate! Torrone packaged in the shape of Christmas trees! I stood there with my mouth open, and possibly drooling, as every where I turned I found Torrone. So, yes, I did find Torrone, and I think I might have found my Christmas spirit too.
The feature photo is a display of containers of strufoli, larger honey balls than the ones we used to make, but it made me happy to see my familiar treats. I wrote this post early yesterday, before a heart-warming (and tear-jerking) message from my daughter showed up online. I was already on my way to finding that elusive Christmas spirit, and now I’m happy to say that my strufoli is made, and my lasagna is coming together. So let me wish a Merry Christmas to all with a happy heart. And the new year? Well, there is always hope…
Continuing the theme of life along the Blue Ridge Parkway long ago we have the Puckett cabin. Home to ‘Aunt’ Orelena Hawks Puckett, who’s story left me astounded. Here is a photo of the sign that left me so amazed.
In case you are reading on your phone and can’t read the writing on the photo, she began her career in midwifery after age 50, and delivered her last baby in 1939 at age 102. She rode horseback or walked to care for her patients. The sign says that she never lost a mother or baby through her own fault. But, most upsetting to me, is the fact that she bore 24 children and none lived past infancy. I can’t help but wonder what the reasons for that were. And to realize that she was a hostage to her own body to have become pregnant all those times, which would have been enough to drive anyone over the edge, but she served her community all her days. To say that life was hard in those days is such an understatement.
To be honest I can’t remember if this photo was taken before or after we saw Puckett cabin. Not that it matters, but you can see that the scenery along the way had changed a lot from the scenery along Skyline Drive. We stopped for other displays along the way, more mountain homes, and a pond at which I spotted the white butterfly.
If I had read the signage at the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park I might have looked at the site a little differently. Old ruins are frequently the subject of photographs, and this one was only a short distance from Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and required only a walk across the road to see it in its entirety. So it was a no-brainer to drive the two miles and see what was there. But in looking it up this morning I found myself surprised to read that it is the ruins of a forced-labor farm owned by David Levy Yulee. Once Florida became a state Yulee was elected to the Senate, and after Florida seceded from the union he became a member of the Confederate Congress. That he was an ‘enslaver’ was startling to read, maybe because of the terminology, or maybe the current political climate is making me take these statements less for granted than when read in a textbook years ago. He is also given credit for helping establish the network of railroads which became a boon to Florida’s economy. There is a much bigger story represented in this small space than I would ever have imagined.
I narrowed my choices for the day into cleaning out the inside of the car, or go to the zoo. I told myself that going to the zoo was my ‘saintlier’ choice since I’d be taking advantage of my pay-for-a day and visit for a year pass. It’s only a deal if you use it.
Another day gotten through. There is no goal in mind exactly, just to get through this whole, strange, time we find ourselves in. I’ve been wondering if we’ll know when it’s over, or will it just fade into a new way of living…
I’ve said it before, probably more than once, but sunset at Pine Island never disappoints. But not always for the reasons you may think. Like the feature photo. I had to circle back to take that picture, and after that I decided that even if the sunset wasn’t great I was glad I’d made the drive. I love happening across things like that.
I think they’ve redone some things since I’ve been here. The grill area looks great, and the playground has a pirate theme too.
I often come across a photo shoot at sunset here, but not always one like this one. They had a phone balanced on the nearby grill and reenacted this pose over and over the whole time I was there.
Of course I had to play with the Lensball while I’m trying to learn it’s potential. I was looking for little kid footprints in the sand but had to settle for the seagull prints.
This sailboat/sunfish (?) caught my eye.
After that I got carried away with sunset photos, with and without the Lensball. Which I happily discovered fits in my jacket pocket. One guy asked if he could borrow my jacket, it was cold! That boater must have been freezing!
And I did say they were still at it, the love birds I mean. Yes, Pine Island never disappoints!