Today I had my annual appointment to have my puppies photographed. Mammograms are a task I dread, but I believe “safety over vanity always!”
I purposely scheduled my appointment for the early morning, hoping that I would get there before the office got busy. This way, maybe I could get out quickly. Usually, not. But today was different. It was my first time at a new facility with all new ladies.
For the past 25 years, I have resided in Lake County. All my doctors, imaging, and lab work have always been performed in the same place. However, since we moved last July, and I am required to have them checked every six months, I was behind on getting in and establishing myself as a new patient.
Luckily, my regular physicians were on the ball and sent all the original lab work, so my visit was quicker than it has ever been. Even better, I just happened to have my beach chair in the trunk of my Jeep along with my beach bag, bathing suit, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Thanks to my hubby Joe, I was sure American Express would cover anything else I could possibly need.
For the first time since I moved to the Sunshine State, and after almost a year of living on the Gulf, I decided to use my hall pass and ditch for the day. It was barely 9 a.m., and I had nothing better to do other than picking up my grandson Jeremy from school at 3:15 p.m. The Imaging Center was 3.7 miles to Anna Maria Island. How could I not accept this special invitation from Mother Nature?
Incredibly, I was one of the first people on the beach. For the moment, I and about a half dozen other early risers shared the shoreline of Manatee Beach. Even the gentlemen that set up the chairs and umbrellas had barely started their morning shift. It felt odd. My family usually shows up beachside at noon. Then we followed someone to their car that was already leaving because they’d been there since dawn. We casually move into their space, not only in the parking lot but also on the sand. As the tide changes, the visitors shift, allowing visitors who prefer the sunset to the sunrise space to enjoy.
Watching the umbrellas go up, and the chairs quickly fill up, I sat quietly for the first time ever and just people watched. One group of tourists is seated to the right – a family from Indiana is to the left. Loads of Canadians and guests from Alaska surfed in the sea as though the water was always this brisk. Nonetheless, even I managed to get my butt in the water, and it was joyously refreshing. Once my entire body was dunked, and the wind stopped blowing, it was quite lovely.
Well worth it, too. While I was chatting with a lady from upstate New York, who was telling me how her hometown just got several inches of snow the night before, the two of us stopped dead in our tracks. Something in the wave approaching us got our attention simultaneously. At first, it looked like a giant sea turtle. You could make out the dark round shadow shape floating as the wave was up. Then as the wave flattened, you could see a fin of a sort. We weren’t really sure what it was, but it definitely didn’t seem threatening. Finally, we realized it was a manatee.
“She” was a bit off track from her usual holiday spot on the other end of Anna Maria Island. Yet, it was just close enough for me to see its breathtaking sea cow shape – even without my glasses.
It was amazing! In all my years of vacationing in the Clearwater/Sarasota area, I have never had the privilege of swimming less than 10 feet away from a gentle giant. I’m not sure which I enjoyed more, seeing this spectacular creature or watching all the tourists rustling about – trying to decide if they should run for their lives or grab their cameras for a photo moment!
I, a reborn native, knew better and gracefully walked along the sand, whispering to myself, “Hi, Miss Manatee. I am so pleased to make your acquaintance. I feel honored to have you in my presence, sharing this beautiful day. Thank you for helping me to create this amazing memory.”
I believe she allowed me to follow her down the beach until finally, she flipped me a wave with her tail and floated off into a parade of oncoming waves. I stroll back to where my stuff was set up, and again I whisper to myself, “Thank you, Mother Earth, for blessing me with this day. It is truly another perfect drop in my river of memories!”
Then, I bittersweetly started to pack up my belongings to head home. Much like Cinderella on the night of the ball, if I am not home before the clock strikes, I will turn into a pumpkin. I don’t want to be a pumpkin. I’d really like to be a mermaid princess or at least a banana!
Remember always to enjoy the little moments. They do add up.
Laugh on. Peace out!
Lisa DeMarco is a columnist for Villages-News.com