Did you ever have one of “those” days? You know the kind of day where you wake up feeling less than chipper. My wife, Ann, refers to it as the “zombie with an attitude rising from his grave”. Yeah, that really helps cheer me up, how can little Miss Sunshine be so happy that early in the morning? It takes two cups of coffee just to get my eyes open and even after a third cup I’m still not Mr. Personality but at least I have my attitude on a leash.
Today is the day we had planned on visiting Manatee Park in Lee County, Florida. As we stepped into our vehicle, we were positive the day would get better and we would have an enjoyable time. Yeah, right, the trip out to the park was more like stumbling in the briar patch than tiptoeing through the tulips. Everyone that should not be behind the wheel of a car was behind the wheel, and to make matters worse, all of them were in front of us showing off their poor driving skills.
My attitude was now straining at the leash. After a string of cuss words and substantially reducing the life of our vehicles brake pads, we finally made it to the park. At that point, both of us were definitely not calm, cool, or collected. Little Miss Sunshine was now displaying storm clouds and remarking rather loudly, about how the mass migration of “snow birds” to their northern nests was taking far too long.
Now, I know you are expecting to hear me say that once we stepped out of our vehicle we were immediately whisked away to an ideal world. A world where the bugs do not bite and the songbirds can tame even the angriest of beasts. Unfortunately, that would be stretching the truth.
The temperature had risen into the high eighties and so had the humidity, ugh! If that was not bad enough, when we went to pay for parking neither of us had any dollar bills so we wound up depositing five dollars in the slot for all day parking even though we would be leaving in less than two hours. My attitude just broke its leash. It was then that Ann suggested the volunteers in the welcome center be spared a visit from “the attitude” so I bypassed the center and walked off mumbling to myself.
The farther I walked with my head down mumbling, the more I became aware of a pleasant smell in the air. When I finally looked up, I was amazed to find beds of beautiful wildflowers all around me. They were in full bloom and awesome.
Maybe, just maybe, this might be a good time to slip the leash back on my attitude.
As Ann caught up to me, we decided we would head over to the Manatee viewing area.
Now, we both knew it was far too late in the season for seeing Manatee, but we were still a little disappointed as we stared at the calm, murky water. Nope, no Manatee, not even a sign saying see you next fall.
As we proceeded down the walk, we came upon yet another garden, which appeared to contain all native plants and trees. The vast majority of them were in full bloom and there was a large sign indicating the area we were looking at was a butterfly garden.
I was just remarking that everyone knows butterflies do not grow in gardens they grow on trees, when I was interrupted by a loud “yikes”. I turned around in time to see a snake cross right in front of Ann.
As I started to ask if she was okay, I was cut off by yet another yell.
Now, I have been married long enough to know that you never, ever, laugh in this type of situation, but I have to admit it was a real challenge to keep it from slipping out.
There on the fence rail next to Ann’s hand was a tree frog. My well-worn copy of “The Perfect Husbands Handbook” indicates that the proper phrase for a situation like this is “Are you alright dearie?” Unfortunately, the phrase that immediately came back at me was “Don’t you dearie me!” At that point, we both burst out laughing.
I have found that when nature presents a golden opportunity, you only have one chance to take advantage of it. If you drag your feet, it will disappear just as fast as it appeared.
As I bent down to snap some pictures of Kermit, he began hopping towards me. As I backed up, he followed me. This was strange behavior since they usually shy away from humans. As I looked through my camera’s lens, I had the very distinct impression Kermit was posing for me. Suddenly, Kermit got a big smile on his face and poof he disappeared from my viewfinder. I was just getting ready to ask where he had gone when I looked at my camera and there was Kermit sitting atop my lens, smiling.
Since he was nice enough to pose for me, I carried him over to a rather large bush and when I got close to a branch, he jumped off.
It was then that Ann and I realized Kermit was the snake’s lunch and the reason Kermit was so happy to see us was because we were his way out of a rather nasty situation. Humm, he is a pretty smart little critter. Giving Kermit another chance at life had me feeling a little better and my attitude was now sitting over in a corner moping.
While we continued our walk, we commented on the various wildflowers and enjoyed their beauty and fragrance.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere they appeared in front of us flitting from flower to flower. They were beautiful they were butterflies in all different sizes and colors. I could feel a smile growing on my face. At the same time, I heard a “poof” and saw a small cloud of smoke as my attitude disappeared and a feeling of happiness washed over me. This was truly a magical experience.
It was almost as if we were watching angels fly right before our eyes. I looked over at Ann and when our eyes met, we both knew, not a word had to be spoken. The day’s rough start was forgotten, replaced by a magic moment, a special page in our book of memories.
Now, I have never had a butterfly land on me so I can only imagine how it feels. I am guessing it would be as close as you could get to being kissed by an angel. I wish I could say it happened, but it did not. That would have been the perfect ending.
Another great adventure comes to an end. It doesn’t get any better than this…well, unless you’re talking about soaring with the eagles. That might just be a step up from this story.
I guess as we travel the road of life, we can never be really sure which way the road will turn…one thing’s for certain though, if you're going to shoot a close-up of a frog make sure you bring along plenty of lens cleaner.
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