On second thought, I think I will keep everything the same for a few more years.
I picked up the man sometimes known as Cupcake and loaded him into the van for a day trip to the Refuge. That’s the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge for you out of towners, a zillion square acre salt marsh ecosystem about 30 minutes south of Tallahassee.
We rode for four hours deep into the Refuge on the system of dikes and oyster shell roads. The heat of the day brought out the animals, especially the reptiles. Three snakes, giant soft-shell turtles sunning in the trail, a herd of deer, many gators, and the BIGGEST alligator I have possibly ever seen in the wild. It was about 100 feet away and we measured it out to the best of our ability at 18 feet long, and 4 feet across the back at the widest point. The head on this thing was the size of a large steer.
When you are 10 miles from the nearest paved road and hours from a hospital, these sightings provide a thrill that could only compare to seeing a Grizzly in the wild. It tried to hypnotize us into wading into the water, but we averted our eyes and resisted.
We were denied the Pinhook River (again!) due to nesting birds. The trail was taped off at one point, the sign read: ALL ENTRY PROHIBITED. Behind the tape we could see hundreds of Little Blue Herons roosting in the trees.
We fought a thirty mile per hour headwind to get back to the van and I will be damned if it didn’t feel like exercise.
Then my dear friends threw together a little steak and cake soiree, sparing me a fate of hiding in the crawl space under the house and crying myself to sleep with a bottle of Scotch.
If I could do the exact same thing every year, these birthdays might be all right.