It started in Georgia: the re-ignition of my obsession with wildlife.
And in continues here in Florida. With a vengeance: making up for lost time.
We saw the lizard, above, as we were leaving Daytona. We didn't stop there for long. We had places to be, people to see, things to do...
As we were driving I noticed that there was a park where manatees go for the winter.
I begged the family to stop. Yes, begged. No one else seemed to be terribly interested.
"How could you not want to go and see manatees?????"
But we went.
And it was everything I thought it could be and so. much. more.
We saw manatees immediately.
So many manatees!
Single ones and partnered ones and moms with babies!
And there were all sorts of amazing fish and birds and the water was so clear you could see straight to the bottom.
I was so. stoked.
|Mom and baby|
|Mom coming up for a breath|
It was as though something long dead inside me was reviving... reborn... I felt. so. alive!
The fam was interested, but tired of watching them after several minutes. I could have watched them all day.
We moved on as rain started pouring from the sky and went to see if we could see some gators. No luck.
Then we went to the park visitors center and bought a manatee magnet and Maeryn read a manatee story.
We did some puddle jumping.
And we were ready to leave.
But... I wasn't.
I was so happy and I wanted to watch manatees for just ever!
"Could I go and see them again... just for a minute... before we go?"
I felt like a six year old.
Michael smiled and said, "Of course you can go and see them again!"
"Does anyone want to come with me?"
"Fine! I will go by myself!"
And I did.
And oh the beauty and wonder...
I was alone on the dock, staring out into the clear blue-green river. The rain pattered on the trees above me and the sounds of cars clearing quickly out of the water-filled parking lot echoed in my ears.
But the river was silent.
The fish swam passively in long, slender lines. The manatees snuggled together in the riverbed. Mud for blankets. Breathing softly every few minutes at the surface of the water. I stared and watched and observed and fell in love with each one of them.
Water traced paths down my sweaty face.
The earth grew clean.
I wrapped my arms around my chest and shivered from cold and wet and the feelings of truly living.