Our five vacation days in Panama City Beach, Florida were wonderful. The magnificent, endless stretches of white sand beach invited us to settle into our canvas foldout chairs to watch Bryn-dog frolic, or cheer her on as she annoyed gulls who patrolled the water’s edge for any yummies the sea might serve up. The sun’s warmth was a balm. Fluffy clouds raced past us on the sky’s highway, riding a vigorous breeze that didn’t reach the ground. The temps were just right; about 72-75, or so.
We absorbed the peace and quiet that the off-season guarantees.
Not once were the two TVs in our suite turned on. Newspapers were ignored. Instead, we spent much quality time at two of the area’s splendid dog parks, to allow Bryn to happily carouse with other delighted dogs. The best park was just two-and-a-half miles from our door.
Bryn flew over the rolling hills of these huge enclosed spaces while we chatted about inconsequential things. Then, with our dog sleeping soundly in the van, we took ourselves to our daily single meal at about two o’clock, making sure the eatery we chose was well patronized. (Lots of cars mean better food.) Then it was back to the beach with a good book, and more Bryn-play. Digging deep sand holes was her specialty.
At 3 a.m. on Thursday morning, the day we’d leave, we were awakened by a shocking phone call. One of our family had died suddenly of a massive heart attack. We loaded the van and drove quietly toward Michigan on that lovely, sunny morning, through the Florida Panhandle until that road became I-65, which wound through Alabama’s rural beauty, then through Tennessee and into Kentucky. There, almost eleven hours later, exhausted by lack of sleep and the awful news, we decided to pause for a couple of nights in Lexington. We’d visit the Kentucky Horse Farm in the morning. That place has always been a shrine for ‘horsey’ me, and just what was needed to lift our spirits.
This huge, beautiful farm, framed by miles of black wooden fencing, was all but deserted, as the tourist season was two months away, so we wandered alone through the brisk sunshine to the museum, which featured great racehorses, and where I rode a fine, life-like rocking horse. Then we moved on to the horse barns, which housed retired steeds, and then to the gift shop, where I bought a commemorative zipup Kentucky Horse Park hoodie.
Funny how a lovely, leisurely walk sprinkled with chuckles and exclamations of awe at Secretariat’s memorial (Secretariat was the greatest racehorse of the twentieth century) could make the world seem normal for a time.
Saturday morning we connected to I-75 and drove from Kentucky into Ohio, and finally into mid-Michigan. Our little farmhouse in Saginaw looked so good, but oh!
It was cold outside!
Lisa had left Saginaw that morning to go to her conference, so the birds were happy to see us. In fact, BB birdie offered a little gem of a gift I won’t forget.
I offered both birds their favorite treat, a fresh spinach leaf, and they happily nibbled it gone. Then Gray flew to her perch for her afternoon siesta, but BB remained on my warm finger, cheeping happily for a little longer. Then, ever so gradually, her eyes closed for a longer and longer time...and to my amazement, she slept.
For nearly five minutes that tiny bird held tightly to my finger, dreaming birdie dreams, before waking, refreshed. She chirped to Gray and the two flew to the seed tray to dine.
I left their room with a much lighter heart.