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Musings: Like A Child

Sometimes I have to give myself permission to play.  I think it is important for the soul, for the heart, for the mind, and for the body to simply have fun.  Especially once we have reached the lofty maturity of adulthood!  We take on more and more responsibility.  Our lives get busier with duties.  We begin to wear ourselves down before our time.

So once in a while I decide to do something quite childlike that requires no special thought.  Dare I say – I even allow myself to “get silly” and giggle and not act one iota like an adult.  There’s no better time to do this than during the Holiday Season.  There are so many fun kid-oriented activities to choose from starting with getting dressed up for Halloween and ending up with a visit to Santa.

And so it was, that about ten days ago I found myself in the company of two intrepid child-wannabee girlfriends heading down to St. Augustine.  We picked up my daughter who had decided to brave the company of three mature ladies on their quest for childish fun.  While trolling the internet, I had come across a link advertising a large 9-acre corn maze and the promise of a hayride included.  I have always wanted to do a hayride and the idea of the corn maze made me think of the movie “Field Of Dreams” and had me shivering in anticipation.

The corn maze was located on the Sykes and Cooper Farm in Elkton, which is a few miles south west on CR 207 just outside St. Augustine.  We parked the car and walked over to the ticket booth to pay our entry fees.  It’s times like this that I really don’t mind being a senior because I got a two dollar discountSmile.  They had a few farm animals on display including a sweet donkey, a huge round-bellied fat pig that the toddlers found fascinating, and a small collection of hens.  As we finished checking out the hens we realized the big tractor trailer for the hayride was right there and almost empty, so we decided to do that next.

Once we had all got ourselves settled on bales of hay, Farmer Cooper fired up the engine and off we chugged around a large field.  There were myriads of gnats in the air but for the most part they didn’t bother us.  As we swung around the other side of the field we began to see pumpkins growing on their mounds.  I noticed that many of them had a layer of what looked like heavy duty foil laid on the ground around them.  I learned that this was to prevent the pumpkins from going moldy on the ground.  Some of the pumpkins were humongous!

We jumped off the hayride and made a beeline for the maze.  It really was huge and quite intimidating as we entered.  The corn (or sorghum) was way above our heads and the paths twisted and turned, ran into each other, went in circles, and did everything else to turn us in the wrong direction.  We could hear children’s voices and their shrieks of laughter coming from various directions as they obviously found themselves back at the same spot again and again. 

I guess we spent a good half an hour in the maze as we tried to find our way out.  Even though we were “acting like children”, the adult in us was aware that we should keep the sounds of the highway to our left, so we didn’t have too much difficulty.  I do remember thinking at one point “supposing a ghost just appeared through the corn”, or “what would I do if I stuck my hand into the corn and it (my hand) disappeared”!!  Woo-woo!  Coming out from the maze we wandered over to the pumpkin stand and bought some miniature pumpkins to use as fall decorations. 

By this time we were hungry and decided to head back into St. Augustine to have dinner.  On many of my visits to St. Augustine I have passed a small colorful restaurant called “La Cocina Mexican Restaurant” on US-1 and have wanted to try it.  We all agreed, Mexican it would be.  What a great dinner we had.  The service was excellent and the food was “uber” excellent.  What I didn’t expect was the superb presentation, almost like a top class eatery. The restaurant itself was delightfully decorated with beautiful murals.  Definitely worth another visit and I highly recommend it!

What a fun evening we had.  Can’t wait to be a child again!    

Musings: Giving Joy To My Inner Child

I am not in the least bit embarrassed to admit that I acknowledge my inner child and frequently allow her to come out and play!!  I love blowing bubbles and reading fairy stories.  I often watch the movies The Secret Garden, The Chronicles of Narnia, Fairy Tale – A True Story, and The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns.

When I watched the first Harry Potter movie I fell in love with the scene where the character Hagrid takes Harry to buy his first magic supplies.  As they walked through that brick wall into Diagon Alley, I SO wanted to be able to go there, or at least someplace like it.  I want to own a bag of fairy dust, and it takes all my willpower not to get in line to go into Santa land in the Mall at Christmas:-).

So last night as we prepared to say goodbye to 2009 I found myself with my husband in St. Augustine, Florida.  To be more precise we were on Anastasia Island.  (Just the name Anastasia gets me tingling with excitement as I remember the Disney movie of that name.  Uh-ho, did I mention Disney……….!!)  I walked with childlike anticipation to the pier where they were holding a New Year event.

Christmas lights lit up the whole area and I had to push my hands deep in my pockets because I so wanted to clap in delight and do pirouettes.  There were lots of food stalls, but there were also various stalls that sold all those magical flashing light things that kids so love.  I desperately wanted a pair of pink and violet flashing bunny ears and at least two or three of those tubular necklaces with the running flashing lights inside them!

I managed to contain myself by watching all the kids have fun with their “stuff” and living my childlike dreams vicariously through them.  After walking around some, Rich and I went over to the boardwalk and staked out our spot for the firework display.  As if to add to the magic of the evening a “blue moon” tried hard to show itself from behind a dense cloud cover. 

As 8.30pm rolled around I could feel the butterflies in my stomach just dancing all over the place.  Suddenly the big lights were dimmed and almost immediately with a flash and a bang the show began.  Nothing and no one stopped me from clapping in delight now.  The sky lit up with golden rain, purple, pink, and green flashes, rockets racing high up into the sky and exploding into huge, bright orbs of multi colors.

I know my eyes were wide, my mouth was open.  I was caught up in the sheer magic of the moment.  It was as though the hand of some gigantic goddess was splashing glittering paint across the sky and I was mesmerized!  In some day-bright moments the sea could be seen roiling on the rocks below us, and we heard the sizzling of the foam as the waves crashed over each other creating an orchestrated accompaniment to the dazzling show above.

All too soon it was over.  The sky turned dark once more and the sea was just a murky movement below us.  The crowds dispersed and all that was left of the glorious light display was the acrid smell of sulfur that hung in the air.  But my little girl went home very, very happy.  And if I want to relive the moment I can always watch the great video that Richard made of the whole show!


Musings: A Christmas Story

I could begin this posting with an explanation of why I have not written in a while.  I could easily say that it’s because I have been so busy with all the Christmas activities that we tend to get ourselves involved in at this time of the year.  But I have specifically worked at not getting too tangled up in the “Christmas crazies”. 

I have learned not to leave gift shopping to the last minute.  I actually “Christmas shop” throughout the year.  As I visit different places I try to find interesting items for special friends or family members.  Sometimes I’ll see something really unusual and I’ll grab it knowing that it will make a wonderful gift for someone, whether it be Christmas or Birthday.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas around the shopping areas.  I love Christmas – the lights, the songs, and those special smells that seem to surround this particular season. But I’m not frantically running around looking for that perfect gift for everyone on a long list.  I do still have one or two items that I want to get but, in one case, I know exactly what to get and where to get it, and in the other case, I know the right thing will pop up when it’s ready to reveal itself.

I haven’t been to a slew of parties nor do I have a bunch to go to between now and Christmas Day.  I’m not stressing out about the Christmas dinner.  I know we will do a “traditional” meal, turkey with all the trimmings, although it will be a little bit different because we love to deep fry the turkey.  (For those of you who have never tried it, believe me it is delicious and not in the least bit greasy!!)

One Christmas project that does take up a lot of my time and energy is “my Christmas card list”.   In my previous posting The Muse Has Been Gone – Again!, I mentioned that I have many people in my address book, family and friends that I have made over twenty five years of being attached to the military life. 

I am also a creative person and I try to make many of my own cards.  So from the beginning of November my craft room turns into a Santa Workshop with colored card stock, embellishments, ink pads galore, and stamps strewn haphazardly all over the place. (I know where everything is!)  Many of the cards are simply signed “With Love and Blessings” and our names – a token sign of friendship and memories shared.  But many require a longer note and a few are filled to the brim with news.  So I have been writing – quite a lot – just in a different way.

However, I think I need to admit here that I have been avoiding the computer and the writing of postings.  I didn’t set out purposely to do this.  I am simply acknowledging right now that I think at some deep level that’s what I’ve been doing. I have also been putting a lot of energy into staying positive, and when that kind of energy is being used it’s difficult to have much left for creatively writing.

Why have I been avoiding the computer?  Because when I write, my feelings come out (you may have noticed that if you read my postings regularly), and I guess I just wasn’t ready to do that because it might have been a great big “BLEAH” of stuff and I don’t like visiting that on an unsuspecting audience.  So in the last few days I have had the opportunity to talk some of the feelings out and to pray about them A LOT!  And here’s what I have discovered.

I am tremendously sad deep in my heart because Christmas is a time for celebrating “family style”.  I’m talking about extended family.  All my childhood Christmas memories are of the family coming together: aunties, uncles, and cousins.  People were all over the place, and the kids ran around.  Bits of wrapping paper were stuffed under chairs, music played, and there was a never-ending supply of food and drink.  It was warm, and comforting and such fun.

Well, the extended family is thousands of miles away.  Even my husband’s family is pretty long distance here in the States.  At Christmas I always invite people to the house who are alone or who also have far-flung family and we do have good times.  But it just isn’t quite the same.  Perhaps it would be truer to say that it’s great and the fellowship and socializing is really good, but I still miss my family.

They always say to “leave the best for last”.  In this case it is the “most difficult for last”.  The biggest sadness that fills my heart right now is the estrangement from my beloved daughter.  (And here come the tears; there have been many bucketfuls of late.)  Because of the lifestyle she chooses to live I do not even know if we shall see her over Christmas, and this breaks my heart.  She lives close by and yet it seems that an ocean divides us.

My Christmas prayer (which is my everyday prayer) is that God will bless and protect her and guide her to right choices.  And this is a prayer that I offer for everyone who may need it at this time of the year.