By Bruce Stambaugh
In my dreams, this is how I pictured retirement. Only, this particular day wasn’t a dream. It was a blissful reality. From sunup to sundown and beyond, the day had been uplifting in every way.
After considerable effort, the sun finally broke through the usual cloudbank that persists over the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulf Stream. I embraced dawn’s golden glow that shimmered in the quiet sea from the horizon to the shore.
I photographed the sunrise, and after a simple breakfast, we said our goodbyes to friends who had been visiting for a few days. They needed to return to their new home in North Carolina to finish settling in.
Then it was off to tour Amelia Island’s historic lighthouse with friends from Millersburg, Ohio, Carl and Judy. Their daughter was a student in my wife’s very first kindergarten class. The couple had secured a condo one floor above us for a month.
We were more than happy to show them the island. They enjoyed similar perks of the barrier island. The Amelia Island Lighthouse was just one of them.
The guided tour was so full that another van had to be used to shuttle the visitors to the sheltered icon. The all white lighthouse with a black top stands nearly hidden on a bluff in a residential neighborhood three-quarters of a mile west of the ocean beyond the beach, beyond the towering sand dunes, and beyond Egans Creek Greenway.
At night, the nautical light flashes its salient signal above the live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, across the dormant, brown reeds of the salt marsh, across the protected dunes at Ft. Clinch State Park, across rooftops of condominiums and beach houses, and finally the beach itself. The lighthouse beacon brings personal surety to seafarers relying on impersonal electronic guidance.
After the lighthouse history lesson, we gawked up the monument’s spiraling granite steps and snapped a few photos. We headed for an early lunch at a local eatery that boasted offering the best burgers on the island. Their milkshakes are pretty good, too, especially when consumed amid congenial company while sitting outside in the warming winter sun. This was Florida after all.
We strolled the streets of this historic town with our friends, viewing its quaint cottages, stately mansions, and inviting bed and breakfasts. Wherever we walked, people were out working, raking dried leaves and fallen palm frawns, scraping peeling paint, patching roofs. When you live in a tropical climate, property repair is non-stop.
We relaxed in the laziness of the afternoon and took in the sunset down by the river in front of the bocce ball court. The pesky no-see-ums, gnat-sized insects that you can’t see but feel their fierce bites, couldn’t deter our enjoyment of the orange and gold, pink and blue living art exhibit.
After a light supper, Neva and I completed the fulfilling day with a quiet evening together watching college basketball on television. She multi-tasks with jigsaw and crossword puzzles while I just enjoy the game.
You don’t have to be retired or be in some exotic locale to have similar experiences. Only look all around you. Examine the place where you are. Listen to the people you are with.
Work or play, engage in the activities at hand. Appreciate, absorb, inhale, touch, and improve your particular environment wherever you may be, whatever your life circumstances.
Why? Because. Every now and then, everyone needs a day like this day.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2017
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