Thunderstorms last night have left the world cooler and damp and smelling of Florida. Even here in the middle of the city, I hear chickens clucking & warbling to themselves. If I close my eyes, I could be on my Aunt's farm in Alachua.
"...with one of those Florida sunsets so awesome that if they happened in just one place and at just one time each year, rather than all over the state every evening, they would be tourist attractions all by themselves."
In April I went back to Florida for the first time in almost 5 years -
the first time since Chip & I got married. I went for a conference, but I stretched it out into a week and a half vacation and the highlight was all the family time.
Before my conference my brother Tyson (who just moved to Tampa from Chicago acouple month before) & I drove out to Alachua to the farm that was
my Grandpas for the first time in over 10 years. I saw my Aunt, who lives
there now and my Uncle & Aunt & cousins who live across the
little dirt road. Even though they are on separate properties everyone is so close that
is like one big Hyde Family farm. The animals are split between fields
on each, the dogs run back and forth and everyone eats breakfast and
dinner together. It was wonderful.
I loved being there and visiting
with my family I hadn't seen in so long, working in the dirt, eating
potatoes and salad just harvested 30 minutes before dinner. We worked in the "garden" which is big enough to be plowed with a tractor, helped feed & gather eggs from the 80 or so chickens. There are also horses and a small herd of Angus, plus another small herd of lowline (smaller) angus. I could have
stayed a whole week just on the farm, instead of just a couple days. It was so great to see my family and so nice to feel so at home there even though we hadn't seen each other since my wedding.
Thoughts from my journal, written at the time of the visit, about being back on the farm and in the former home of my Grandpa. "The air was cooler and dryer than I expected. Actually immensely pleasant. Enough to trick you into thinking that everyday could be like that. Hot, but not too much, with puffy clouds to keep the sun off your neck and cool enough in the evening to sleep with the windows open and the comforter on. Tile floors cool on your toes in the morning, with just the slightest bit of dirt tacked in from outside. The house smells so familiar, but has Aunt Dorothy's touches so is somehow less stale, fresher...no smoke cigarette smoke anywhere."
After my conference, I stayed with my brother Bryan (he just finished college at USF in Tampa), but we saw Tyson quite a bit and I got to meet both of my brother's girlfriends. It was wonderful spending time with two of my brothers (I do only seem to get to see only two at a time recently!) We had all kinds of fun adventures in the short time I had with them. One highlight of the visit was an impromptu afternoon "snack" at Pollo Tropical, which is only the best fast food place in the world. Yummy chicken, great, greasy black beans & rice. Oh and of course Jupina ('it's like a party in your mouth!') but that's more Florida than just Pollo Tropical. They really need to open some franchises out to California.
This was actually my first time in Tampa, but I'd say it was a fun town. But then again, everything is more fun when there's multiple Hyde's around!
That's right, the Dolphins are still the only football team with a perfect season, including a Super Bowl win. It may have been all the way back in 1972, but not one else has been able to duplicate it. Good job Giants!