The first day of summer, predictably, was much different than the daily event at the plaza. After four months there, I knew when all the shopkeepers would arrive, what time the first patron would come to the bistro for his oatmeal with a side of prunes and coffee to wash down the one pill he took each morning. I knew what time the pair of Dragonflies would troll for prey above my head at the inside corner of the "L" shaped plaza. As the sun would rise over the parking lot, I dutifully put the blanket out for Nice (the dog) to bask in the morning rays. Our first morning out was filled with new faces, personalities and wildlife.
The first person we rolled by was a woman sitting on a street bench by her bicycle, two small bags of clothes, a bucket with a few window cleaning supplies and squeegee. When I asked her how she was doing, she happily told me she was presently pleasantly surprised, thanks to me. I was a welcome sight to her normal morning events.
A few blocks further down three men came out to talk. One of them told me he had once weighed 450 pounds. He had been told he was on the verge of diabetes and rather than loose body parts he decided to loose weight. His two friends joked with him about how big he had been but it was obvious they were proud and glad of his accomplishment. We posed for some pictures and parted with smiles.
In six miles, a few hours, I saw bees and flowers, primates in cages and a turtle taking the Pinellas Trail. He walked as if its was his own personal highway. Nice found deer and boar tracks crossing the path and I collected another feather for my cap. On our first day out from the air conditioned comfort and safety of the plaza we were rewarded with sights we had never seen, met more interesting people than my slow writing can describe and had a few moments where the sound of the trees rustling in the wind was louder than the drone of US19, the hum of street lights or rooftop compressors.
The first hot day of summer was filled with warmth. From the first smile to the last man who pulled up to tell me his appreciation for the message. From the many I met, in just one day, who told of changing their ways and loosing weight to stave off diabetes to the woman on a quest to get the world to say hello to one another ; I am glad to be out from the cold air conditioning into the hot summer air.