It was a day to celebrate a family. Not my family however, I have no idea who these people are except that they are exceptional. This was a photo shoot at Pine Island, the first time this family had all gotten together for a family photo, because this is a new family. Two parents, four biological children, and four siblings who had newly joined the family. I was told that they lost their mother a year and a half before and had been placed in foster care. They kept telling their social worker to call this family, they knew the family from bible camp, and they were sure that this family would take them. And once they got a social worker to listen to them that’s exactly what happened. It was a nice story, and the sunset that I didn’t expect to be much wound up to be as heartwarming as I could ever hope for…
We Floridians are not the hardiest of souls. A blustery 50-degree day will keep us in, declaring it too cold and windy to be outside. In fairness to us we don’t experience this type of weather often, and certainly not for days at a stretch, and we simply don’t have the wardrobe for it. So I took a walk through the Tetons today. In my computer of course, having located the pictures I took over the summer. Thankfully they aren’t lost for good, just not organized well. I have no idea if I will ever get to enjoy the Tetons in person again, but isn’t that why we take pictures? So that we can return for an hour or two, and remember…
There is no rhyme or reason to these pictures, just images I was happy to see again. Now to tuck them away safely so I can find them the next time I decide to go down Memory Lane.
Sping Bayou is a small park with a lovely lake in a older, upscale neighborhood in Tarpon Springs. I imagine it’s a rather quiet place on any other day than yesterday, because it was the Greek Orthodox celebration called the Epiphany, and it’s cause for quite a celebration in this proud Greek town. In fact this was the 115th celebration, and in this year of COVID it was a drastically scaled down event. It was reported that only half of the 800 parishioner passes to view the event had been handed out, so as my first time to view it gave me a better view than normal since my son had passes for us to attend. We didn’t attend the four hour mass to start the day, and the procession from the church to the park happened more quickly than usual, so we found ourselves in the midst of what is the main event of the day earlier than most of us expected. Each year a cross is blessed and thrown into the water, and this year there were 55 16-18 year old boys of the parish who dove into the water to try to retrieve the cross and bring honor to their families.
As you see in the feature photo, we arrived to see the arches where the divers would pass under to take their places on the dock. They would first jump into the water and swim to the waiting boats, and from there they would dive in and try to retrieve the cross as it was tossed. As you see below, safety was a big concern with a rescue boat and divers in full scuba gear in the water to keep the boys safe.
The police presence was felt, but they were mostly giving directions, and as you see there were mounted police of every description there to help.
Soon we saw the boys in their white tee shirts walking under the golden cross to take their places.
The priest blessed the cross, blessed the water, and asked God to protect us all during this time of COVID.
And then came the moment for the boys to jump into the water and swim to the boats to be ready to try to be the lucky one to retrieve the cross.
As they all kept jumping in I understood the need for the drivers to be there, but they safely made it into the boats and soon it was time. I concentrated on the priest to try to catch the moment when he threw the cross, but I was a second too soon. My son had told me that there would be a release of a dove, which I also managed to miss.
Here they all are, swimming for the cross, and the moment that I first saw that someone had come up with it. It only took a few seconds.
Now wrapped in towels the boys hoisted the winner onto their shoulders and paraded him back to the church while the last of the boys were still climbing the ladder out of the water. This year there were no concessionaires there to tempt us with their great Greek food. Not so much of a festival atmosphere. But the tradition was respected, and if the prayers are answered the celebration will continue en force next year.
I had my doubts about what there would be to see at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in November. And yes I took lots of pictures of flowers, but they weren’t anything I couldn’t have taken any time, even in my local Publix. I may have been spoiled after having been to Heritage Village in Sandwich, MA during a summer visit. Nothing I’ve ever seen has compared to that for sheer numbers of flowers. So I deleted those pictures once I got to the ones we had taken on the trails in the garden. Now walking those trails was quite a different experience from any botanical garden I’d ever been to before.
Again we were climbing up and down, and I for one was ready to sit on a bench and enjoy the view of this red bridge we spotted. Maybe we could wait for people to walk across it, but when they did we were disappointed, some faced away from us, and no one stopped for a kiss right at the top of the bridge. Of course we could have hollered out our suggestions, but we controlled ourselves.
As we continued to sit on that bench a group of young people came into view. Betty had spotted them before because of their dazzling white shoes. They were dressed alike also, and we said that we should get them to walk over the bridge with those shoes. But they did better than that, they began to dance.
I thought that someone was filming them and I so wanted to suggest that they cross that bridge and perform for the camera, by that I mean our camera, but I didn’t. They never seemed to notice that red bridge just to the right of where they were dancing. And one last person crossed the bridge, dressed in red as Betty pointed out, so we took a last picture and went on our way.
Now that I’m home I can say it was a good trip. But maybe I should have given a second thought to a nearly 10 hour drive followed immediately with having to set up the camper. Setting up while trying to beat the sunset. We knew ahead of time that the weather would be good for one day, and then followed by two days of rain, but I didn’t think about cancelling. Reality hit after a day of taking photos that first day, and we again tried to beat the sunset while taking the camper back down that night. And another nearly 10 hour drive home the next day. On the way home I wondered if this was all too much for me, if maybe this camping thing had run it’s course for me. But I’m rested now and I have to think I’m not done yet. There are still places to go, things to see, people to meet…
At the end of the day my phone app showed the least distance walked today of any of us. Just under 5 miles. We walked the trails and then weren’t sure whether to turn around and retrace our steps or continue the loop around the lake, not knowing exactly how far that walk would be. Our phones showed a series of small lakes, and it was tempting to try a ‘short cut’, and to continue the loop looked like it was going to be a very long way. If I had known it was only going to be five miles I wouldn’t have worried. Shade on the trail would have been nice also, but there was a breeze and yes, Florida has cooled off somewhat.
The big surprise of the day was when two young bucks chased each other across the road and proceeded to battle with each other for a minute, and then they dashed back into the woods. What an unexpected treat that was to see.