I've been cooling my heels and soothing my spirit lately with some real Southern comfort. No, not that stuff in a bottle that some people think is whiskey. A few weeks ago, Son and his family visited us in Tallahassee, and we took them to Wakulla Springs. It was a hot day with intermittent rain showers, which is typical weather for Florida at this time of year. We wanted them to experience the boat tour we had taken this past winter, but the threat of thundershowers postponed the departure several times. When we finally got underway, we were treated to several manatee sightings, including this one of mama manatee with her youngster. As you can see, the water is much more clear at this time of year as compared to the last time we visited the park.
Micah didn't seem to mind the wait at all. He spent a lot of time building his own version of castles in the sand. At least on this little beach, the tide won't take them down. His mom and I kept an eye on him while Son and SAM tested the coolness of the water. According to our boat guide for the tour, it stays right around 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
...The life in us is like the water in the river. It may rise this year higher than man has ever known it, and flood the parched uplands; even this may be the eventful year, which will drown out all our muskrats. It was not always dry land where we dwell. I see far inland the banks which the stream anciently washed, before science began to record its freshets... (from Walden, Chapter 18: Conclusion, by Henry David Thoreau)
It might not be as naturally refreshing as spring water, but the pool at home lets us enjoy the outdoors at a time of day when we would normally be found inside keeping cool in the air conditioning. Son doesn't often get to savor moments like this one. I hope I don't sound too corny here, but I'm going to say it anyway. Son is one of my heroes. He works harder than anyone I know, outside in Florida's summertime heat and humidity, lifting heavy drilling augers, and toting sacks of Portland cement and bentonite. He started this kind of work ten years ago when his dad and I started an environmental service company. Son didn't know what he wanted to do with his life at that time, tried college and quit, so we took the plunge and invested our savings and borrowed money to start a family business. We had just bought our first drilling rig and began to find work in West Kentucky when 9-11 came along and knocked the wind out of this country and most of our prospects for business. State money--much of it from gasoline taxes--for testing and cleanup of contaminated sites was diverted elsewhere as the nation's fast-flowing economy began its slow but steady decline to a trickle. Private work at factory sites dried up too as companies began tightening their belts. We moved south to Florida because SAM and Son were traveling so often to work there. The work that seemed so plentiful at first on the east coast disappeared within a few months, and we packed up again to move to our home near Pensacola. With the state funding squeezed so tightly that it was gasping for breath within a couple of years of moving there, SAM and I decided it was time to sell the company. We needed to get out while the gettin' was still good. But what would Son do now? He had met his true love, gotten married, and acquired a mortgage. SAM found him a decent paying job with a company that had bought some of our equipment. Son has been working there ever since, but the work is beginning to take its toll on his body. Somehow, he finds the strength and time to take college courses after working 50-60 hours a week. He has some goals in mind, and he's taking the necessary steps, painful though they may be, to achieve them. Now do you understand why I admire him so much? I wish that we had sold our home earlier this year so we could help him financially. Apartment life isn't so bad, and I'm getting used to the Tallahassee area--meeting new gardening friends, hiking (when it's cooler), and paddling the many spring-fed rivers in the area.
A couple of weekends ago, we found a great blue heron resting from its fishing work at Wacissa. Wouldn't you love to have that job?
This past weekend, after some wistful remarks by SAM that he had not tasted a lemon meringue pie in a very long time, I decided to bake some Southern comfort for Sunday dessert. Along with a cheesecake baked by daughter-in-law, the lemon pie and a blueberry cream pie rounded out a meal of barbequed ribs, homemade macaroni and cheese and tossed salad. If not for the heat outside and the calendar reminding us that it's still July, it could have been Thanksgiving Day.
Between rain showers and right before dinner on Sunday, I threw together some hastily gathered flowers and took a picture so I could participate in Noelle's (Arizona Plant Lady) Monthly Garden Bouquet meme. What's blooming and otherwise showing its color in my backyard and other garden areas at this hot time of year? Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic,' Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm,' Spanish lavender, hydrangea 'Endless Summer,' and some unknown hosta. I also added some fern leaves to the vase. I hope you enjoy my version of Southern comfort.