Fear, or lack of…

November 12, 2010

The word “fear” is powerful, but only because, deep down, in each one of us, there is usually a fear of something. I think of friends and family, and I can easily recount their fears because they often mention them in conversation.

I’m not afraid of big things, like death, because I have a deep faith and I believe all the big things are already conquered, so I don’t spend time fearing them. But I admit to a fear of heights and spiders.

In the last year and a half, I faced my fear of  heights straight up. Last December, in Costa Rica, I rappelled  down waterfalls with my son, Sam. The first drop backward into thin air was 200 feet down. Stepping off the cold, chipped green metal scaffolding was a real test of courage for me. I asked my guide if people ever turned back once they looked down. “Si, a lot of the time,” he nodded. Turns out, there was an extra guide lurking in the forest canopy at the beginning of the adventure. His only job? To take people back who cannot take that step. I think about what I would have missed if I had walked back to the starting place.

A couple months ago, I had to climb the mast of my sailboat to fix and replace a couple things. It was my first time up there. Although I was tethered to a friend and the height of my mast is only 32 feet, the rocking of the boat in the wind got my attention. But there was no fear. Every now and then, I’d take a break from the work to look around. I could see a bridge, Lemon Bay, and a glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico. What a view!

It’s funny, my fear of heights, once so solid, is gone. One less nasty little thing that has a bad hold on me. And I like it.

Now, on to spiders.

”Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.” – Saint Teresa of Avila


Mountains vs. Oceans

August 17, 2010

Are you a mountain person or a water person? Does your heart beat faster when you take in the grandeur of dark mountains shrouded in smoky clouds or when you lightly close your eyes and deeply breathe either salty air or lake breezes?

I’ve got to be near water. I long for wide open spaces – salt, sand, sea of any color. I feel claustrophobic in heavy green mountains and trees covered with kudzu, although at times I can sense the peacefulness mountain lovers must feel at the sounds of water falling on rocks amidst cascades of happy crickets.

One thing I love for sure: bends in the road. We don’t really have those in Florida, and now I know what “coming ’round the mountain” is all about – there’s usually some kind of  happy little sneaky treat, like a fat white pony grazing in blonde grass, a weathered abandoned shack or truck, a roadside farm stand of boiled peanuts or peaches or … like last Saturday… an old barn with a touch of artwork near the hayloft.

Savoring Summer…

June 3, 2010

Summer. 2010. We live in a cozy cottage a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico. Oil is on the way. Big storms are predicted. As much as I love to travel, I think we will hunker down and stay put. Know what sounds good? Sunset picnics on the white sand beach while it lasts, watching dolphins arch their backs in glimpses of shimmering wet gray as they come up for air. Maybe we’ll take the boat out for a few breezy late afternoon sails. Help our son prepare to move into his college dorm this summer. And finish our “to-do” house project list that we’ve put off for too long. Most importantly, I’d like to savor the simplicity of enjoying all the little things that make up life.  Happy Summer!

Mother’s Day in the Bay…

May 10, 2010

Mother’s Day is a mixed bag. On one hand, there’s the Hallmark part of it, like all the things you are supposed to feel. Blessed. Thankful. Just so happy. What nice kids. What perfect kids. They woke up to make me an extra special perfect breakfast, and then they cleaned up everything afterwards with no griping. Really. I guess maybe this happens because people post it on their social media, tapping away in perfectly peaceful moments – maybe their kids whipped them up a perfectly delicious cocktail and brought it out to the hammock.

There’s another, more realistic side, at least at our house. Really, it’s just another day. Loved the homemade card, loved the homemade cake with toffee bits on top (note to self: go running later). Love my kids (as usual). But honestly, there was still other stuff  throughout the day. Real life.  And, as moms, I think we set ourselves up if we think one day is going to go so well. I worry that moms who only report that it went perfectly set other moms up to feel badly. So let’s embrace the little good moments, like I guess we should every regularly scheduled, “normal” day. But let’s not lie about  “perfection.”  By the way, my daughter and I went “horse surfing” in the bay at sunset on Mother’s Day. And before you get all envious, let me say that there were cute, fun moments, and other moments that weren’t so perfect. Honestly.

Ahhh, Florida…

May 3, 2010

They call me a native Floridian, because I am Florida born and raised. But I’ve never liked the title. Near where I live, there are native people who cling to the cultures and traditions of the Seminole tribe. They are the true natives.

Still, more and more, I am embracing certain Southern things I love, like Saw Palmetto honey on a warm flaky biscuit, collard greens sprinkled with vinegar,  the sweet scent of orange blossoms…and certain exits off I-75. I’ll share one of them with you. It’s exit 368 in Reddick, Florida. For God’s sake, don’t stop at one more crummy fast food crapola joint that looks and tastes like it’s immersed in plastic. 

You’ll find Jim’s Pit Bar-B-Q just off the exit. Step inside, set yourself down and holler over the wooden door to Jim that you’d like a pulled pork sandwich, homemade cole slaw and a sweet tea. And on your way out, pay for your lunch, your gas, and a bag of homemade peanut brittle or boiled peanuts. Take a little time to stroke the coconut monkey heads, turn away in disgust from the shiny baby alligator heads, or buy yourself some orange blossom soap. When’s the last time you really savored those southern souvenirs? I used to think they were beyond tacky. Somewhere down the road, they became charming…

The Real Florida

April 10, 2010

This just might be the best Spring Break I’ve ever had. No crowds. No lines. Little money spent on two of the Florida adventures. Big bucks spent on one of the others, but it was well worth it. All three jaunts involved the beauty and nature of Florida combined with kids enjoying what I call “happy childhood” activities.

First stop: Oscar Scherer State Park in Sarasota, where two moms and two teenage girls paired up to canoe a short creek. We decided on purpose to leave the map at the ranger station and just follow the creek wherever it took us. “Don’t go under the bridge on one end or over the dam at the other,” the ranger called to us as we walked down to the life jacket and paddle shed. Cost? $5.35 per hour per canoe, which is all it took us to paddle the length of the creek and back. The waterway was empty, the picnic grounds were empty. We had a nice lunch and even nicer memories. Beats the mall anyday of the week, Spring Break or not. And, get this – the girls agreed.

Next stop: The Rainbow River in Dunnellon, Florida, where friends’ parents have a perfectly rustic cabin. Three little bedrooms, but sleeps 15, because everyone is so happy to be there, they don’t mind cramming a cot or sleeping bag wherever. Sparkling water so clear that you can see the bright green algae on the backs of turtles swimming underneath your kayak. Rope swings. Kids being able to have freedom to swim, canow and kayak up river (they always come back sooner or later!). S’mores and stories by the fire pit. Laughter, laughter, laughter. No Facebook, no video games, no “I” anythings.  The Rainbow River is one of my most favorite places in Florida.

And finally, a new favorite place: Forever Florida in St. Cloud, about an hour from the Mouse trap. We drove until we were sure we were lost and the GPS had already given up. Then, bright orange flags led us into a 4,700-acre Florida Cracker Ranch. We met in the spacious lodge, took a swamp buggy ride, ziplined across seven cables and two swinging bridges, and then rode horses a couple hours, including forays through brown murky so deep we had to hold our knees above our “Cracker” horses’ shoulders.

Memories made. Treasured. To be recalled and remembered. Kids and Florida – it doesn’t have to be about the heat, bugs or things that can eat you up. Sure, those things are out there. At Forever Florida, they have a 14-foot gator who is currently MIA – they need to catch him and relocate him before their summer camp starts, especially because he keeps showing up in their camp’s kayak pond. But no matter, he’s just a part of the landscape. And part of the story…

Sailboat Sleepover…

March 15, 2010

Sunday’s entry is Monday’s this week, since hubby and I spent Sunday nite on our little sailboat in Lemon Bay. Ever get off a boat and feel like you are still moving? I wonder if there’s a name for that. We had a great evening – dinner on a little island where you dock and then walk a wooden deck to the restaurant (okay, so the docking wasn’t perfect, but no onlookers – always good). We shared an order of  baby back ribs in Rum Bay Swamp Sauce, cole slaw and key lime pie. Woke up to a breakfast of eggs, sausage and english muffins cooked by number one hubby on the propane stove while watching the sun, fish and kayakers come to life.

Hello, I’m now gokerrigo

March 7, 2010

Hi from a currently chilly coastal town in Southwest Florida – welcome to the world of a brand new blogger. This chat is meant to be a happy companion to my new website, www.kerridieffenwierth.com  which is now live.

Why a blog, by me, now? A former features writer, I decided to combine my passions for writing, travel and my children to share adventures, tips and places to make lasting memories.  I plan to post every Sunday night (at least) so come back soon and let me know what you think.