Friday, February 29, 2008
Impressions of South Florida
Now that I am freezing my butt off (20 degrees outside) and unpacked, our trip to Florida seems like it was a lot longer ago than last week. In an attempt to share more of our vacation moments with you and warm myself up a bit, I will write more about our trip. My parents live on the Southern tip of Pine Island which is a barrier island near Fort Meyers on the Gulf side of the state. It is nestled in a bay between the mainland and the outer islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Their house is on a canal which allows you to get to open water in a few minutes. They have a swimming pool and the beach they go to is accessible by boat only on an undeveloped island which makes it very secluded. A lot of beautiful shells wash up there and my mom took Jove "shelling" for the first time. Pine Island and the bay around it have a lot of mangroves and shallow water which support a lot of wildlife; we saw dolphins, manatees, pelicans, osprey, cormorants, wading birds and a bald eagle. My dad has a boat and took Jove and Jupiter fishing and all of us for boat rides.
The island in between Pine Island and mainland Florida is Matlacha and it is inhabited by artists, galleries and restaurants. I took my mom out to lunch for her birthday and we did a little gallery hopping with Miranda. My mom is an artist and has been contacted by one of the galleries to put her work up. She also had her artwork on display at the Chamber of Commerce on Pine Island. Is is wonderful to see my mother have time to paint again now that she is retired.
The vibe of the whole area is laid back (kind of like the Florida Keys) and it seems like the perfect place for my mother to do her art and for my father to fish.
We also spent a few days visiting my husband's family on the other side of the state in Miami. His aunts, uncles and cousins staged a mini-reunion the day we arrived so that everyone could see all of us. Jove and Miranda had a blast being with all of their cousins. Jupiter's mom had flown down from New York and was thrilled to show off her grandchildren to the family. We stayed with Jupiter's Aunt Germania who is so sweet and always makes me feel so loved and welcomed in her home. I am lucky to be a part of Jupiter's family.
We went to the Everglades (near Homestead) and saw an incredible amount of gators and birds. There is a drought in South Florida and this is probably why so many animals were hanging out near the artificial canal near the trail. I used to take students to this spot every year when I taught in Miami and I never saw this many animals.
Jupiter and I went dancing, which we had not done in over a year and it was so much fun. We have vowed that we will go out here in New York more. We really needed more time in Miami to spend time with Jupiter's family and see more attractions. Maybe next time...
The best part of the trip was seeing everyone. My brother was also visiting for the last few days of our trip, which was an added bonus. We had sunny and warm weather the whole time and really enjoyed being on and near the water.
As we drove back and forth across the southern tip of state, surrounded by Sawgrass Marsh, Cypress Swamps and Hardwood Hammocks I couldn't help but feel in awe of the natural beauty of the area and how surreal it is that so many people live near such a wild place. I hope it survives and one day my kids can take their kids to see alligators and manatees in South Florida.