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Snowy egret at the shore

Snowy egret at the shore

When you’re living in a cold northern climate, opening the door and walking outside involves effort.  One must find and pull on the snow pants, the socks, the boots, the coat, the hat, the gloves or mittens, the scarf and sometimes even the neck warmer.  Once outside the cold can pierce you to the core. 

While one can learn to even thrive in cold climates (and perhaps some people thrive naturally) in warm climates the distinction between indoors and outdoors lessens.

One opens the door and walks outside sometimes dozens of times each day when the temperature lingers between 70 and 85.  One can walk outside without shoes!  Sleeveless!  In shorts!  Shirtless!  (Well, some of us can do this publicly without social stigmas, usually the males among us.)

I find the ease between moving indoors and outdoors an incredible luxury.  Perhaps one wouldn’t need a commitment to spend time outdoors each day IF one lived here in southern Florida.  Yet, I know that’s not true either.  In summer, the heat scorches and burns and fries bare feet on pavement.  The heat wilts everyone and everything.  It would take a huge commitment to surrender outdoors to the heat every day.  Once again, it’s all relative.

Morning sparkles on the Back Bay

Morning sparkles on the Back Bay

My mom noticed the glints of sunlight shimmering across the water as we drank our morning coffee on the lanai.  The first rain in weeks had sprinkled the grasses and palm trees and asphalt after we awoke, but soon abated. She sent me scurrying for the camera, down the elevator and outside to capture the diamond-like sparkles.  Effortless.  No pulling on boots.  No bracing for the cold.  Skin met warm air…a certain sense of freedom pervades in this tropical world. 

We hiked out to the beach again, choosing to wear our Teva sandals and wade across the lagoons to the Gulf.  My mom and I admired the birds, especially that beautiful egret above.  Later, looking in the bird book, she said somewhat reverentially, “That was a snowy egret!”  We carefully turned the pages back and forth between egret and snowy egret.  The snowy egret is known for its “golden slippers”. Yes, a snowy egret, indeed.

Long expanse of beach

Long expanse of beach

We waded in the Gulf.  It felt like lukewarm soothing salty bathwater.  Small shells, abandoned by their underwater occupants, littered the sand beneath our feet.  We spoke of possibly shelling down on Lover’s Key sometime this week.

Shells underfoot

Shells underfoot

We sipped a drink at the Holiday Inn before walking home and eating shrimp pasta salad for lunch.  Afternoon:  swimming laps in the pool, cross-ways, head under the water.  Most of the ladies keep their hair dry and coiffed, not wanting to ruin hair-dos with chlorinated water. 

People smile and want to make conversation, but I feel strangely silent and quiet.  Not many thoughts gallop through my mind.  Hands cupping the water, pulling, stroking, feeling the bathwater temperature.  Feeling no separation between water and self, simply the sensations of dissolving boundaries, floating, almost disappearing.

I could get used to this.

By the pool

By the pool

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Ibis in the Bird Sanctuary

Ibis in the Bird Sanctuary

First morning in Florida.  What to do?  Obviously, the first thing we always do.  Take a hike down through the Bird Sanctuary, out to the Gulf of Mexico along the white sands behind the Holiday Inn, then meander along the shore to the Outrigger.  At the Outrigger we linger beneath the thatch-covered tiki huts drinking orange juice or coffee (take your pick) while laughing with family members.  Ahhh…we’re in Paradise.

My dad always looks up at the jets flying into the Fort Myers Airport, sighs and informs us:  “Another bird coming in to Paradise.”

He rode his bike to the Outrigger and my brother walked along the sidewalk, but Mom and I took the “Kathy Walk” through the Bird Sanctuary.  They call it the “Kathy Walk” because my mom usually only walks it when I’m around. When other folks (like my sister-in-law) accompany her, it’s referred to in that infamous manner.

Oh how I love this walk!  Years ago a ferocious hurricane blew wildly through the south end of Fort Myers Beach, altering the previous landscape.  It left small lagoons between the condos and the beach.  Here great wild birds pause to peck underwater creatures, to float, to dive.  We’ve seen egrets, pelicans, ibis, oyster catchers, sandpipers, terns and even the elusive pink spoonbill.  How I wish a pink spoonbill will appear before the end of my vacation.  You would ooohhh and ahhhh to see this magnificent creature.

Instead you may view another pink creature playing along the shore.  She stared so fixedly at her pink pail and shovel, lost in imaginary worlds, that she barely even noticed our passing.

Digging by the shore

Digging by the shore

We watched flocks of seagulls spreading upward from the sand in white undulating waves of birds.  Another photo I would love to share with you, indeed!  We plowed through deeper sand walking from the shore back to the Outrigger.  It’s a good work-out.  Kind of like going to the gym.  While it’s a snap walking atop the harder crust of compressed sand, deep sand stretches endurance.  By the end of this week we’ll be fit and in shape.  (You believe that one?)

Tiki huts at the Outrigger bar

Tiki huts at the Outrigger bar

It’s a three mile walk from condo to the Outrigger and back again.  Today we didn’t return home until almost noon.  How much do you want to hear about our leisurely vacation?  I’m sorry some of you are envious… 😦   I wish you could all be here, too. 

Do you know there were actually people around the pool this afternoon complaining because the clouds obscured the sun and wind whipped the palm trees to and fro.  They actually uttered the words “cold front”.  Ridiculous!  These people don’t know what “cold” is.  It was 78 degrees.  I lay atop a beach towel by the pool and baked.  Not a boiling bake where sweat drips off your sunscreen lotion, but a luxurious slow bake that warms you down to the frozen innards.  I’m sure there’s still frozen innards, deep inside, after this long winter in Upper Michigan.  The whirlpool helped melt away any remaining frost.

Immature coconuts in those palm trees (I think that's what they are)

Immature coconuts in those palm trees (I think that's what they are)

One last photo for my husband.  Hi Barry!  I’m posting this just for you.  Just think, if you were down here you might be catching a little fellow like this for our grill.  It’s only about seven inches long though, and the fisherman threw it back in the Back Bay.   Ooops, sorry, didn’t mean to rub it in…

Baby red snapper (once again, I think that's what it is!)

Baby red snapper (once again, I think that's what it is!)

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