Of Palm Trees, Pelicans, Pine Trees, and Ports (Air, That Is)

Intrepid as ever, I have made my way out of the doom, gloom, and gray of Missouri’s winter and jetted off to Florida for a quick break. I had hoped to pickle myself in the Gulf Coast’s salt water, kayak a river to find manatees, and wear flip-flops every day. However…..

nope. That’s a big ol’, Florida-sized nope.

I seem to have–accidentally, I assure you–brought cold weather along with me. But I did find the sunshine. I found an abundance of palm trees too–they are EVERYWHERE! Their leaves rustle in the wind, with a delightful sound that is no reminder of cold, or bone-chilling damp, or sadness. It’s a sound of expectancy, of something new and exciting coming in on that sea breeze.

The temperatures are in the upper 50s to lower 60s this weekend; chilly by Florida standards. But the pelicans don’t mind. I cross a very long bridge over the bay as I drive to visit friends here, and I watch them soaring past me, some pacing me, lifting themselves on that breeze. It’s been a long time since I watched pelicans, or heard the cries of gulls or other sea birds. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been around big water like this; it restores a part of my soul.

Just see those pine trees! Tall, slender, unexpected–to me anyway. If I’d thought about it at all, I’d have thought to see short, scrubby evergreens clinging to sandy dunes, such as we have in the Mid-Atlantic, but these reach up as though they–as do I–need the warmth of the sun.

Friday, I had intended to go and visit the Salvador Dali museum, but due to circumstances involving Google Maps, unforseen construction, and the fact that many St. Petersburg streets are one-way, I ended up at…..

an airport. Yes I did.

A teeny little local airport. The Albert Witted Airport, with Art Deco architecture, a wonderful restaurant, and biplane and helicopter rides available (I did not partake of the latter this time; as my grandmother was rumored to say, “always leave something for next time”). I sat out on the upper deck, took photos, drank coffee, watched the planes and helicopters take off and land, and….wait! In the distance….blue water? Sailboats? Aaahhhh…..contentment.

Adding to the serendipity of the day, my waiter’s name was the same as my son’s, and later a dear friend from my childhood met up with me for drinks and appetizers. Laughter and grand times ensued as the sun set in a blaze of color.


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