Journal Entry 12.26.2016 – “Boxing Day”
Okay, I’m not British…this lifetime, but I was in my last one. And I learned about Boxing Day from my elder sister who lives in Canada. Anyway… I avoided the after Christmas rush by leaving the house before most stores were opened and headed towards the beach.
Initially I ended up at Varn Beach, a Flagler County access point just north of Flagler Beach. Only one half of the original three beach ramps allows beach access. The rest are still hanging out in the air, twisted and torn up as a result of storm damage from Hurricane Matthew, nearly three months ago now. Beach clean up is now pretty much complete, although some areas are still carting in sand from elsewhere to build up dunes, backyards and in some instances, roads, back to a semblance of what was there before. Of course, there is really no going back. And it is odd to see those formerly multi-million dollar houses now without even decent access or power. Goes with being on the edge of a hurricane-prone coastline. My engineer father would have disapproved of the county fathers even allowing houses to be built on such a precarious setting.
Next stop was one of my favorite places in Flagler County, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. The formal gardens are worth the entrance fee alone. And there is about 4 miles of hikes / walks in the park, as well. The camellias were beginning to bloom, which they do here in the winter. I remember them blooming in late winter / early spring in the Pacific Northwest (Puget Sound Region) but usually getting bitten by late frosts. I’ll go back periodically to check on the camellias progress with blooming, as well as the azaleas which also begin to bloom in mid-winter. Everything is rather turned around here from my experience in the northern climes. Butterflies are still out and birds are quite active. It was a joy to see just one pelican flying along above the Intracoastal Waterway.
I had soon completed my tour of the gardens and drove further north, scoping out possible other places for exploration. Then I headed to another favorite park, Princess Place Preserve… that beautiful 1,500 acre preserve in Flagler County, which I consider one of the crown jewels of the natural preserves in the area.
It being a holiday for many people since Christmas was on the weekend, there were a few more people than what I see on a “normal” weekday. That, and it is the holiday week and there are a lot of snowbirds visiting the area. I saw some folks with their horses riding around the numerous equestrian trails, people fishing, kayakers, fishing boats, and a few other walkers like myself.
I managed to complete the 2.5 mile Hominy Branch Trail today, negotiating the muddy stretch without problem, which stopped me before with a six-inch deep or more very large murky puddle left over from hurricane-related storm surge. The puddle had “dried out” to a merely muddy patch which I gingerly walked through and on to complete the rest of the loop. There was a touch of autumn color (this is Florida; nothing is “on schedule” according to the rest of the world) with the hickories and Turkey oaks. And I noted a nice patch of native Coontie (arrowroot) growing in a grove of hickories, filling in as an attractive ground cover. I have written before about Coontie, a plant that was nearly exterminated by the greed of people seeking the ingredient for arrowroot biscuits and the like. Fortunately, Coontie is making a slow come-back in the wild and makes an attractive addition to a Florida garden, as well.
Next, I walked from the Ranger Station to the island trail, one of the first trails that I explored last August upon discovering Princess Place. The island had taken a beating from the storm, but I could follow the trail despite parts of it being partially buried in storm surge debris. And before walking this little .6 mile trail, I had a long conversation with a retired couple who live in Patlaka, who were scouting out possible camping sites for their RV. Princess Place doesn’t have suitable sites for such a large vehicle, especially seeing that most of the roads are sandy, too. However, we had a nice chat. I suggested a couple other State Parks in the area. It is pretty amazing how well I’ve come to know this area in a short amount of time.
Altogether, this was a very nice outing and a fitting end to the Christmas holiday for me. I spent a lot of time resting this past weekend with a mild digestive ailment, but am much improved… having walked over four miles today without effort.
Last night, Christmas night, I felt a wave of emotion, mostly grief pass through from the collective. Christmas is a difficult time of the year for a lot of people, even those who have gatherings to go to with family and friends. There are so many unmet expectations. I let go of the holidays in general nearly two decades ago, after my parents passed and the rest of my family in all practical sense disowned me. So I do what I want and how I want to… and that is to spend a lot of time resting or out in Nature enjoying the beauty that surrounds us at every turn.
The New Year approaches rapidly and with it a new surge of energetic waves. Keep centered, neutral and adaptable, to catch the waves of change with grace and ease.
Namaste and Season’s Greetings!
All Rights Reserved, Elizabeth Ayres Escher, http://www.bluedragonjournal.com
Photo Credits: Flagler County — Varn Park; Washington Oaks Gardens State Park; and Princess Place Preserve.