I walked for a few miles along the highway among the patches of wildflowers, past the county line where paved sidewalks turn to wide ditch. In the two months we have been here I had not yet walked this way. I had walked in all the other directions until the walkway ended or where there where too many sidewalks. The wide open ditch was a comfortable change from the hard concrete.
Thousands, in cars and trucks, have passed but little more than a dozen have I passed walking. Seven bicyclists, two of those were cross country travelers. From the bench in front of the office I have seen a few others. At night I have seen a number of teenagers walking to the Seven-Eleven. The day I sat across the road, just before the rain that brought us to the plaza, I talked to a retired couple who live at the RV Resort at the intersection; I see them walk everyday. I am sure (hopeful) more people than what I have seen use the pedestrian path. I have walked in some states for days without seeing a sidewalk or passed anyone walking on the side of the road. With so many miles of walkway I thought I would see more pedestrians.
This weekend marks two months since we found ourselves here in Spring Hill. since we first laid eyes on this little plaza. We had stopped across the road at a twist in the usually straight sidewalk. The wind had been blowing hard from the south for days. Pushing the world dozens of miles, against the wind, had slowly tapped my reserves. This day, the wind blew so hard I had to drop the guide pole attached to the lacings and lean hard against the world to keep it moving forward. I had to push using both arms. Knowing there was heavy rain coming, I had the gas station past the stoplight just ahead in mind to stop for the day. But I was too fatigued, I had to sit down and rest. While I was eating a piece of fruit, at the "crook" in the usually straight forward sidewalk, I looked over to see the plaza for the first time.
When I had recovered enough to walk a few hundred yards to the crossroad it began to rain. Too far to escape the impending deluge and get to the gas station, I had to run/roll across the busy highway to the shelter of this plaza. There was an overhang and a bench to wait out the rain. Half soaked, we were invited in by the ladies at the private office a few doors away from where we sat. The wind seemed to coax Nice and me where we needed to be.The walls, adorned with artwork of space views looking on a nearby planet, the Earth, our world. Coincidence? The ladies in the office towel dried Nice and fell in love with him instantly. For me, another story, it was a few minutes before they gave me permission to park the purple van outside in the parking lot. The women of the office warmed up to the dog so much they insisted that Nice sleep in the warm office. The rain didn't stop until the end of the next day. By the time the sun broke through we were all inextricably intertwined, unbeknown to any of us. Though he seemed healthy to that point
Nice began to limp during the following two days. We came back here to the plaza, to the sheltering arms of our new friends. There we found out Nice would need surgery. First a trip to the local veterinarian, then to the UF Small Animal Hospital revealed both his knees needed immediate surgery. The cost of the diagnosis from the two office visits had drained my finances. Before I even had a chance to worry how I could pay for the surgery Nice needed the ladies at the office and others began to gather support.
Many people rallied to help Nice. We got the word out through news coverage, local friends, support from the www, the hospital and businesses. All came quickly together to get Nice the operation. He is recovering nicely one month into his three month recovery time. Where we would have been without the shelter we found in this plaza is hard to imagine.
I don't know where I am going with this rambling post. I have been attempting to get out of this rut, out of this writing block. Like pressing against a hard wind, sometimes it is better for me to pause, smell the flowers and be silent.