Of all the times I’ve driven to Florida in January, this might be the sweetest. I’m taking my time. All the other drives, I was so ready for early spring that I couldn’t wait to get there. This time, as I wend my way across America and stop for days at a time in locations I’ve never seen, I am more aware of climate change and seasons with each degree of latitude I cross.
Instead of going from 15° to 60° in a day, it has taken 2 weeks. And instead of snow and cold, I’ve seen rain and sunshine. Instead of leafless trees, I’ve seen green grass and evergreens with coverings still intact.
No wonder folks choose to live below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s just more days one can spend outside breathing the air and enjoying the place you live.
During this trip, I’ve visited a national museum, a civil war shrine, a shoreline aquarium, a vacation home of relatives, a son’s new house and a vast shoreline that I now know actually does stretch from Maine to Florida because I’ve seen the places in between.
I’m always attracted to the shoreline. Not sure the reason but I speculate because there is constant movement which I find hypnotic. When the sun rises or sets, I can watch it descend over the horizon with no impediment in between. I watch the birds fly in formation, dipping low to catch the shine of a swimmer or locate a resting place. The ocean-going vessels ride the horizon line keeping watch on our borders. And the shoreline is dotted with beautiful houses that invite families and friends to share the wealth.
Shoreline communities have a vacation vibe to their eating establishments – especially those owned and operated by families – mom & pop, sister and brother, dad and son, mom and daughter. Their existence is totally dependent on working together and working hard – long days and nights with no guarantee of success – only love for each other and the desire to succeed.
Each customer is an opportunity to please. "Everything OK, sir" they ask. "You bet" is my normal response. Everything is better than OK. It’s wonderful.
Ever think about that word – wonderful? Full-of-wonder is the way I like to turn the phrase. It’s like the word “awesome” that I used to like before it became the go-to phrase for everything that's good. It too, can be broken apart to mean “worthy of awe” or “worthy of wonder”. That’s the way I like to think of them. Things that are wonderful and awesome are things that defy explanation,
like a setting sun glowing orange behind a god-painted canvas of clouds and sky. A scallop shell lying on the sandy beach waiting to be discovered. A bird family hovering in a protected bush struggling to stay warm (and alive). These are the wonders that we pass by without notice when our lives are rushing to the next meeting or family emergency. Stopping to see what is awesome and wonderful can fill you with gratitude and peace. But you have to be willing to stop and notice. It doesn’t see you. You have to see it.