For the first time in several days, the weather in north Florida decided to cooperate and become fair again. My mood was in a deep hole of depression and anger for days and I knew I had to leave the house for fresh air and sunshine. So, after a warm shower, I got dressed, hopped into my car and drove all the way to a place I was familiar with: Alpine Groves.
Since it was a weekday, there weren’t many visitors in the park/trail and I beamed at the thought of having the most spacious spots to myself, even if just for a few minutes. I quickly pulled into a spot near the newly renovated historic house and set off on the trail to my left.
The paved trail was littered with fallen brown leaves and twigs from the nearby trees that towered over it. The majority of the trees were not only tall and possibly intimidating to a mere child, but they provided shade from the beams of sunshine that poked through the gaps that the trees didn’t conceal. Smaller naked trees hung near the older, larger ones, perhaps as a companion to the natural elders of the park?
Large mounds of cumulus clouds floated gently across a sharp blue sky and sometimes blocked the rays coming from the sun. A gentle breeze was blowing and alongside the cooling effect it delivered to my skin, it also dashed several leaves from the taller trees and allowed them to float slowly in a diagonal fashion towards the ground. I stared in amazement at such a gorgeous sight and silently wished that this would be a daily event for me in secluded places like this.
As I walked along the path, my mind lit up at the idea of grounding and I slipped my sandals off to feel the grass, leaves and pavement beneath my feet. Unfortunately, the paved trail wasn’t so forgiving on my tiny feet and I eventually slipped the sandals back on after trekking over a bumpy, uneven spot on the trail. So much for grounding myself… Oh well.
I took a small break on a nearby bench next to the trail and massaged my feet after removing my sandals once more. I glanced up at the sky through the tree branches and noticed that some of the clouds had lumped themselves together into one large mass of fluff that crawled across the sky like a fluffy sloth. A fluffy sloth… I giggled at the thought of such an animal being fluffy to the touch. Not that I’ve ever seen one before in real life.
My stomach growled lightly and I realized that I haven’t eaten lunch yet. Perhaps a burger from a nearby place? Or maybe a waffle with some eggs? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that going long periods without eating would result in a massive headache and despite enjoying the beauty of the park, I had to fill my belly fast.
I sat up, slipped on my sandals and started off on the trail back towards where my car was. Something red and black flew past me to my right and I squealed in delight upon realizing that it was a pileated woodpecker. This was the second time I spotted this native bird in Florida and I watched it drill its beak into a few spots on an old tree, sometimes knocking off a few pieces of bark in the process. I deeply wished that I had a camera with a zoom lens to capture such a beautiful sight, but I settled with simply taking in the moment of watching such a magnificent creature simply exist without question.
Elated by the experience, I notified an elderly couple walking past about the woodpecker and wished them luck on spotting it soon. My stomach growled again and I spotted a nearby orange tree with a few ripened oranges poking from beneath the leaves. How I wished I could reach for one of the oranges to satisfy my hunger for a few minutes, but they were out of reach and any chance of climbing the tree would result in an unwanted injury.
I sighed and continued to where my car parked alongside a newly arrived truck holding two large dogs. Oh well. Time to leave Alpine Groves and have a quick lunch for myself. But I made sure to silently thank the park for letting me see the everyday beauty in nature that many tend to miss. Next time, my visit will be much longer.