Fort Myers

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

“The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli!”

One Saturday morning in January, we drove over to Fort Myers just as a cold front with rain descended on South Florida. We had planned this evening away for weeks and there was no way we were going to cancel. So instead of heading straight to our hotel and beach, we went to the Edison Ford winter estates, a historical museum and 21 acre botanical garden on the adjacent sites of the winter homes of Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford outside of Fort Myers. The girls were whisked away on a 40 minute tour with activities allowing us time alone to look at the exhibit and find out about the lives of these wonderful American inventors.

We eventually made it to the beach late in the afternoon, the rain had dissipated but the storm clouds remained and the water churned. The beach was empty save for a few thousand sea gulls surveying the angry sea. My youngest took one look at the beach declared that it was way too cold to stay outside and set herself up in our hotel room with Dad. A few years ago, in a similar location, I took some photos of her among sea gulls, and these photos are still among my favorite.  I got one of my “bright” ideas…I ran to the car and grabbed the jumbo bag of pretzels we had brought over and suggested to my eldest daughter we head to the beach and throw one or two to the birds. What occurred next was like something out of a Hitchcock movie. We didn’t have two birds arrive, it was if we had rung the dinner bell for every seagull in South Florida. It started off calm, they followed my daughter with her small cup, but when I handed over the ziplock bag of pretzels, well that’s when they got REALLY close. Take a look at the ziplock bag as it goes from full to empty – by the time all the pretzels were eaten the birds were full enough to stand in front of her patiently waiting for her to impart her next gift.

"Any problem can be solved with a little ingenuity."

This trip wasn’t one of my finest moments in terms of planning. I had remembered my husband mentioning it would get cold, and I thought, okay low 60s. It wasn’t until the next morning when I opened the slider door of our room that I realized it would be too cold to walk down to the beach. It wasn’t anywhere close to the 60s, it was in fact 45. Now 45 is fine…if I have coats and some warm clothes packed, but I didn’t pack a lot and what I packed was well useless, or so I thought. I like to think that the following action was something akin to an old school MacGyver episode. I emptied out their bag and had them put EVERY SINGLE item of clothing I had packed for them on. Pjs covered by a t-shirt, covered by another shirt, covered by a dress, covered by fleece, covered by a poncho. I even threw on their sun hats for good measure because my mum put the fear of God into me as a child about losing heaps of body heat through my head. We made it to the beach, played in the sand pretending it was snow, and when we got too cold we headed off for hot chocolate in the lobby.

“I have put many beautiful pinatas in the storeroom, each of them filled with little surprises.”
The Three Amigos

At the end of my 365 photo project three years ago, I remember stopping at a little Mexican restaurant in Bonita Springs on the way back from Tampa for lunch. I snapped the girls wearing sombreros, while they giggled from having to balance the weight of these broad and heavy hats on her head. We stopped at the same restaurant on the way home from the beach and found those exact same hats, a little dustier than before and not quite as broad and heavy this time around.