Autumn’s Bounce

3 11 2017

Biscayne Bay NP

The cool breezes have arrived at long last in the southern reaches of the United States.

Battered by hurricanes, Floridians are picking up the pieces of a life that seems to consist of at least one dangerous weather pattern a year. The Governor is well versed in crisis management. The Winter White House must be protected, after all.

And at any cost.

Looking inward, a self assessment seems in order. Why is America here? Who decided it would be such a great thing to settle 20 million people in a swamp?

If there are advantages to such stressed living conditons it must be an enduring ecosystem immune to certain invasive species. People do want to come here — for a variety of reasons. I’d prefer to push into South America and learn why that is.

Meanwhile, David says to trust God. He does his morning yoga poses and goes off into the community eager to serve. Working two jobs at the age of 70 while volunteering countless hours to the democratic party. He continually amazes me and I am eternally grateful for him coming into my life — and staying.

I am giving more time to friends who care about our shared health and well being and less to those who do not. That should be automatic but is much harder to practice in reality. I do not think I can make a difference, I know I can. Thus comes responsible action and deeper understanding.

Ah maturity.

Having recently celebrated my 45th birthday, I am aware of how satisfied I should be at this stage of life.

“You are still here,” our couples’ therapist said to me.

Yes, I am still here and it is quite remarkable considering all of the adventures. Coming to South Florida was an assignment in learing how to rebuild and make a way beyond familiar ground. I have learned a great deal about politics, the environment, minority communities, recovery, celebrity culture and the list goes on. I am beginning to learn what marriage means. Raising children is next.

I am by no means broken but very aware that no one goes through life unblemished. The perfect image Americans insist their leaders have was destroyed during the last presidential election. In the world of geeks, it’s Kingpins over Spidermen. Superman is truly a myth and the Jedi have been driven into exile.

Spooks own the hour now. The news still carries at least one mass terrorist attack story a week. But we forget about it after a few weeks and the dead become linked to a city or a school or a nightclub. It will depress you if you let it.

I choose not to. I am also choosing my media, information and entertainment outlets very carefully.

It has been a tough year. For a lot of us. I am thankful the holiday season is approaching and I can decorate the apartment. Maturity brings awareness of how precious life is. Now is the time to cherish our loves.

 

 

 

 

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What’s next after Yellowstone?

15 09 2013

My Yellowstone experience is coming to an end. I can now safely say it has been a wonderful summer, filled with adventure, achievement, learning, and, not to be forgotten — love. There are so many stories to tell, episodes to write and characters to develop, I don’t know where to begin.

We’ll start with the stars. They are incredible here. At 7,000 feet, the Milky Way is quite visible to the naked eye (with the help of glasses.) I’m still wearing Clark Kent style frames courtesy of that great American retailer, Sears. A few nights ago, I put on those glasses and joined my Canyon colleague Kirk for a late night ride into Hayden Valley. Initially we had planned to just blow off some steam after work, but it turned into an amazing evening of star gazing and elk listening. With no moonlight, the stars were spectacular and the constellations all there, although I’m still trying to figure out where Ursa Minor begins and ends. Kirk says it reminds him of a “planetarium” he went to in high school. Kirk, I’m finding out, had a privileged childhood.

The elk bulging made the night cooler. These beasts are in their mating period or “rut” as it is known in slang terms. The males are seeking to create harems and cry out in the darkness for new members. We are told to stay far away from the bull elk during this time as their behavior can get quite aggressive. Mammoth Hot Springs, where we stayed during training, is typically overrun by the elk this time of year.

Meanwhile, the fires that had been burning in nearly every section of the park have subsided, but it was scary for a while there. Dry and windy conditions coupled with lighting strikes had set Yellowstone ablaze once again. Apparently, this is quite a common occurrence with some years — 1988 comes to mind — being worse than others. During “Fire Season” this year we were greeted each morning by the smell of burning pine trees and sage brush and a sky colored in hazy pink. Some of us were lucky enough to have a front row seat. From my post inside the ticket office at the Canyon Corrals, I could see the Alum Fire raging across Hayden Valley. Tourists, rightfully so, were concerned.

“Why don’t they put it out?,” they kept asking me before saddling up for their one-hour horseback ride.

In Yellowstone, what happens naturally, stays naturally — including fires.

But the fires weren’t the only thing burning in Yellowstone. My relationship with Ann was heating up by the day. Our hitchhiking adventure led to more hikes into the backcountry and soon we were spending all of our free time together. This was not something I had expected nor pursued. It just happened, naturally and I find myself searching for ways to describe these feelings.

We met at a difficult time in both our lives. “I thought there was no love for me in this world,” Ann revealed.

I understood. On our hike to the Canyon’s brink of the lower falls, I shared with Ann my spectacular fall from grace in the summer of 2008. The story of greed, ignorance, betrayal and ultimately, ruin. Much to my surprise, with each devastating detail, Ann pulled me closer as we made our descent, hand in hand. The brink of the lower falls is an amazing sight to see and because of its steep drop, it is not a trail many visitors to the park take on. But I had become accustomed to crawling out of canyons and compared to last year’s hikes in Arizona, this was a piece of cake. At the brink, you witness the full fury of the Yellowstone River as it crashes 309 feet over the falls and into this deep and colorful canyon. This is where we kissed, passionately and so much so that a nearby tourist offered to take a picture of the, “love birds.”

As happy as I am for this blossoming relationship, I have no idea what the future holds.

Soon, Ann will return to Italy and continue her studies in hopes of one day becoming a teacher. As for me, I am unsure where life will take me next. I have a little money in my pocket again, a plane ticket to Seattle and a strong desire to return to journalism. Last year, my summer in Grand Canyon emboldened me for the campaign trail. Having survived six months in the desert, I was able to enter the hostile Florida panhandle with no fear and carry out a “boots on the ground” winning effort.

I wonder what a summer romance in Yellowstone will lead to?

Yellowstone Canyon Lower Falls

Yellowstone Canyon Lower Falls





My Valentine

14 02 2011

Breaking out of my lil’ depression now. Listening to the brilliant Pandora app on my I-phone. When I think about my life, it is silly to wallow in self defeat.

Yes, I’ve experienced Ammmmazing things through the course of three decades. Been to exotic places and met incredible people. It’s high time to be grateful.

I am most grateful for David. He has seen me at my worst, heard all the stories, rumors and half-truths and still manages to see through it all. I know it hasn’t been easy for him, these last two years.

We met when my world was falling apart. And he still let me drive his BMW.

David is truly a gentle soul. A believer in overcoming obstacles and moving mountains. He rebuilt that sporty ’89 BMW and restored it to classic condition. It was a blast to take out on the campaign trail.

There was a moment, during the sultry summer, at the Fourth of July parade in Lynn Haven, that sticks out in my mind. David had suggested I stand in the BMW — through the sunroof — and wave at the crowds. This idea, at the time, seemed foolish. My confidence was weak then. Instead, I donned a T-shirt for the Governor candidate and marched with the party faithful.

Looking back, that was a mistake. The Beemer would have probably got me noticed more. It’s a cool car and I especially love zooming through traffic in it. David enjoys talking about the work he’s spent restoring this ‘ultimate driving machine’ to tip-top performance.

He’s done the same with me.

When I came back to Panama City, after failing in New York, David was there to pick up the pieces — shattered ego, bruised body and all. I know it hasn’t been easy for him. He has made many sacrifices.

And no matter how hard I fought to remain independent, he kept loving me. All those times, I railed against the system, complained about my plight or sinned for the sake of sinning, David stood by me.

The campaign was, for all intents and purposes, a very public trial. I learned a great deal about my community and found true friends. There were days when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed yet David always managed to motivate me to be better.

I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve him. I’m just happy he chose me.

Happy Valentine’s Day Lover!