A Traveller’s Journal in Florida

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A brilliant cluster of Hibiscus flowers. Photo by Ronn Hartviksen
A brilliant cluster of Hibiscus flowers. Photo by Ronn Hartviksen

A brilliant cluster of Hibiscus flowers. Photo by Ronn Hartviksen
A brilliant cluster of Hibiscus flowers. Photo by Ronn Hartviksen
THUNDER BAY – FORT LAUDERDALE – LIVING – Recently ensconced in Florida where the wealth and abundance of the tropics beams, and gleams, everywhere. This mid winter sojourn captures your heart beyond words.

Where one breathtaking horizon after another, like tiny slices of mid summer back home (in Thunder Bay) invites the traveller to “just take in all that you can,” as a colleague suggested before we flew south from Canada.

Here, along what is called the Gold Coast, one expects what’s on one horizon after another is a long lasting part of the irresistible postcards that attracted the first Europeans landing here in the 16th century.

Landing in Ft. Lauderdale, before New Year’s, we headed straight up to Pompano where our lodging in a cottage by the ocean immediately brought comparisons to Rudyard Kipling’s historical Victorian beginnings in India. “That’s so accurate,” said a lady living in Boca Raton.”I know Kipling because I used to live in India.”

And, it really is quite encompassing re-discovering some of the great thinkers, writers, artists, architects, and poets who’ve made the colourful guideline books, available at kiosks everywhere, especially enticing as we shuffle about. Many of these authors, with their travelling narratives, were once nestled in the pages of our college Art appreciation courses. So, while we walk and talk here is an example of being clearly reminded of the 19th century essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson’s writings are still being studied in a course called Nature by present day University students in these parts.

As were were plying for Art materials at a specialist shop for Artists, begun in 1928 in DelRay, a passage by Emerson was fitting. And displayed on a nearby shop’s quote-of-the-day board. “Love of Beauty is taste. The creation of Beauty is Art. Carrying on Each day as we take in our mornings within the quaintness of our Kipling Cottage there’s time for sharing a story, a quote, or, a parable to accent— and underscore–our day’s beginnings.

In our first week there were two we delighted in reading, and re-reading, then wrote out. Posted them as Floridians do near their own cottage’s glass and bamboo tables reserved for morning parfaits, coffee or tea servings.

1. Anyone who keeps the ability to see Beauty never grows old.*** (a European proverb)

2 Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson (b. May 25, 1803. d. April 27, 1882)

Another time meandering around Ft. Lauderdale with our ‘heads-on-a-swivel’ as Canadian hockey coaches teach young defensemen while checking in offensive and defensive zones, the inherent beauty of arboretums, greenhouses, locally planted gardens was fittingly described as “captivating” by an American from Georgia who spent time with us.

Shifting gears going from a land locked brilliance to traditional sandy settings along the Atlantic where the eternal drifting in–then–washing away of waves were accompanied with dazzling kites in the sky. Reminding us of things Robert Kennedy wrote about oceans.

Kennedy wrote often, at his cottage in Cape Cod, about the attraction of waves, the aura of water, it’s kindred connections to the soul of mankind.

In central Ft. Lauderdale, inspiring vistas were abundant. On the longest, timeless, stretches of a beach ever present were delicate, spidery threads controlling buoyant kites attached to their makers.

Those never-growing-old( ***) beachcombers informally attired beneath their art. They wore blazingly colourful tropical T-shirts and kaki Bermuda shorts. Their playfulness with physics saw them racing barefoot, or in sandals, imprinting the finest of southern sands with their abundant energy.

Both the height and directional currents of their wispy temporary dreams floating upwards, and onwards, in the bluest of heavens. Something that brought to mind Gauguin’s pastel skies that became visual backdrops to the coastal palms he painted in Tahiti.

Within this framework another passage by Emerson was, in its own karma, “floating into the balloon of themind,” as the Celtic poet W. B. Yeats might observe. Especially as light afternoon breezes combed through the tops of Royal and Lily palms. These traditional sub-tropical beauties Splaying out, next to vivid clusters of hibiscus bushes. Their shades of pink, orange, and white mixing nicely with the Australian tones of eucalyptus hedges. An environmental idea once planted, here, to assist in pledging a way to stop soil erosion from the coast.

And, in other locations one observed a charming and glowing characteristic “red-ness” blooming where oleander, azalea, and, frangipani lingered attractively on branches. Though a notch or two slightly dimmer than their energetic heyday, and weeks, of bursting out last summer.

Emerson advised, in his passionate writings maintained in lifelong journals, “never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful. For it is God’s handwriting before you. As each moment of the year has its own beauty. It beholds every hour, a picture, which was never seen before, and (likely) shall never be seen again.”

A good place to call this a day. While writing, on a sunny stonewall, beneath frigate birds, spoon bills and neat flocks of coastal pelicans enjoying this balmy atmosphere. Where a local Pharmacy advertises, on radio, “all is well on the corner of healthy and wealthy.”

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