Morning Coffee with the Deer
Just got back from a couple of perfect-weather weeks with family in Florida. (November is Goldilocks weather in Florida: not too hot, not too cold, but just right.)
My daughter’s husband is a C-130 pilot stationed at the Clearwater Coast Guard Station. Nearing the end of their deployment there and the probability of their next station being Alaska, my daughter decided it was time for our scattered family to gather for Thanksgiving. This was not an easy task.
I had not had all five of my kids in the same place in decades, and the future didn’t bode easy for it to happen soon again if we didn’t do it now. So the plans were set in motion. It helped that my three youngest are, at present, living in Florida; my daughter on the Gulf coast and my two youngest sons on the east coast.
My oldest son now lives in Texas. My grandson who grew up in my house is now attached to an Army base in Texas. My second son is a long-hauler, in a different state every day.
But we pulled it off – almost. I got there on Sunday, my long-hauler son pulled up on Tuesday, my Texas son drove in on Wednesday – but his son pulled standby on base and couldn’t come with him as planned. That was a great disappointment.
My youngest son, head chef and kitchen manager of a 400-seat restaurant in Cocoa Beach, wouldn’t be able to get away on Thanksgiving Day itself, but came, with kiddos, on Friday. My other Florida son, still working – last man standing – at the space center – was unable to come, as he was recouping from a heart attack.
With my daughter and all in charge of the 29-pound turkey and all else, I took full advantage of sitting out on the portico overlooking their backyard that includes a fish-filled pond created by the flooding of the Anclote River, just beyond the forest tree line, during Hurricane Debbie last spring.
The pond is a cafe to just about every bird in Florida, who put on quite a show, particularly for breakfast and the evening meal. From egrets and ibis to great blue herons to wood storks, cormorants and osprey – and my favorite, the roseate spoonbills, I had a ringside seat for their daily shows. And the stately sand hill cranes wander around the neighborhood at will.
Then there are the forest-dwellers: the deer, coyote, bobcat, turkey, wild boar -- it’s a virtual wildlife preserve for a backyard. I could count on having my morning coffee sitting in the Adirondack chair, and watch the wildlife show.
I was doing this on Thanksgiving Day, while wishing my grandson had been able to come from Texas, as he’ll soon be moving to Italy. With family soon to be spread out from Alaska to Italy, who knew when we could be together again? Then someone came up from in back of me and did the hands-over-eyes and the “guess who?” bit. You guessed it. My grandson. He did a 24-hour round trip to be with us all.
Good thing my daughter and hubby have a 3,000-square-foot house! I don’t know which I enjoyed more, trying to keep up with all the activity, or sitting back and watching them all enjoying one another.
With Thanksgiving Day over and most returned to their homes, I stayed on for another wonderful week with my daughter, hubby and three beautiful girls -- ages 12 to almost 16.
We ate at a Hawaiian restaurant, a Thai place, had blackened grouper dockside in Tarpon Springs, chili rellenos in a Mexican place, "garlic knots" in an Italian restaurant, barbecues and marshmallow roasts in the backyard – well, let’s just say I didn’t lose any weight.
It was not easy climbing back on the plane for home. But I have memories – and hundreds of photos – to last forever.
And so much to be thankful for. Every day is a day of Thanks-giving.
Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and a graduate of Belfast now living in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.