HOME ON THE RANGE

HOME ON THE RANGE

Leila on her horse

Leila on her horse

Leila’s back hurt, her insides were rolling, the sun blinded her. The irony was her mother had insisted she learn to ride the way a woman would be expected to. But nothing she knew was useful. She was about to retch again.

“Tom, Tom, wait up,” she called. “I can’t do this.” She leaned over the side of her horse and vomited what was left of her lunch. She ran her arm over her mouth, wiping away the residue. “Oh my God, what’s wrong with me?” She jumped down and plopped onto the dried grass and dirt. A puff of soft soil rose around her getting into her eyes and mouth. She closed her eyes and rested her face in her hands.

“Girl, get yourself together. Ain’t gonna help to feel sorry for yerself.”

Leila lifted her face to peer at Tom, the tears running through the dirt on her cheeks. “Damn Tom, what am I to do? I feel so awful.”

Charles_Marion_Russell_-_Waiting_and_Mad“We’ll spend the night here. Here’s a blanket, set it down and take a rest.  I’ll make us a fire and some food. Then ye’ll feel better and tommora we can git on our way.”

“Do you think this stomach problem will get better then?”

“Nah, ye got a problem that ain’t goin’ away right quick.”

“I’m exhausted. I’ll get some sleep then I’ll feel better. I know it’s important to you to catch those killers.”

She slept through supper, slept through sundown, slept until the first light, when the sounds of chirping and fluttering wings close by sent a breeze across her face. The first thing she did when she stood was to dry wretch.

“Come here child, I have something for ye.”

Tom gave her a swig from his canteen. She swallowed then spit. “Are you trying to kill me? That was awful.”

“That there is my best whiskey. I figured it would counter-act your problem and make yer to feel better.”

“I didn’t like the taste, but we’ll see if it settles my belly.”

The ground rumbled. Hard. A sound Leila had never before heard. She sucked in air and said, “What’s all that Tom?”

Bison herd on the plains

Bison herd on the plains

“Sounds like the pack of bison I been hearing is coming closer. We best get out of harm’s way.”

Tom picked up their gear. Leila picked up what she could. They got on their horses and rode up toward the mountains. “Will we be out of the way?”

“They hardly never cross the mountains, they follow the river, but stay on the plains till they cross the river, so we’ll be safe.”

They rode a distance then Tom pulled up on his horse and stopped. “Why are we stopping?”

“I have to pack this gear, can’t hold it all day. There were no time back there.”

“Darn if that whiskey didn’t make me stop retching. Guess I’m going to be okay. It was just a passing chill.

Want to guess if Leila suffered from a passing chill? This is a snippet idea for my coming book, Haze of Innocence.

THE RIGHT TURN

THE RIGHT TURN

Ameila Island pelicansWe took a wrong turn, rather a right turn, on the way home from Florida, and ended up on Amelia Island. Nestled among centuries-old live oaks, majestic maritime forests, tranquil salt marshes and the beautiful blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Island Plantation exemplifies environmental sensitivity and the luxury of a leisure lifestyle as is life at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where we hung out for almost a month. We missed the snows that covered the northeast. Weather in south Florida is warm and sunny most days.  Amelia Island, more north, in the Jacksonville area, sometimes has slightly cooler days. Still, it’s rare to see snow here.

Guns, Gail and St. Mary's River

Guns, Gail and St. Mary’s River

We found the most amazing property here in Amelia, and it wasn’t a fancy hotel. It was a Fort. Built during the years of 1847 and 1864, on the northern end of the Island, at the Florida-Georgia border, it was built to guard the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, protect coastal and interior shipping, and defend the deep water port of Fernandina, Florida. Fort Clinch was built specifically to keep away invaders, built for war, not for safety.

The drive to the Fort

The drive to the Fort

Visitors are encouraged to take the three mile drive to the property that is right on the banks of the St. Mary’s River. We walked through the buildings, walked on the buildings.

Rooftops

Rooftops

Active fireplaces this day, I smelled the smoke from the several chimneys at the tops of the buildings.

Roofs were clad in steel, and dropped in the middle, as you can see here, to catch rainwater. The water flowed into opening at either end of the roof, piped into holding tanks in the ground.

Waterpump

Waterpump

A water pump made water accessible.

I thought about the men that bed down there.

Bedbunks

Bedbunks

That is, if and when the men were still alive, and needed a place to rest their weary bodies.

Wind whipped around and swirled at the flag. flag550 pxP1080971

It rippled and stood at attention like a soldier on a mission.

Uniforms and more

Uniforms and more

Never fully completed, the fort still served as a military post during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II.

P1080932This certainly was a right turn. Amongst the beautiful beaches, coastal grasslands, and dunes,  hides American history.

Imagine yourself here cooking for the soldiers. They do have reenactments. A great place to visit and participate in life of 1864.

Do I have your curiosity? You can visit, and find a place to stay in this magnificent part of our country.

END OF WINTER?

END OF WINTER?

images images-3 images-2 Ha! End of winter is some kind of dream. Winter has never ended in the beginning of P1080613P1080598February, at least not in my lifetime. Unless, of course, you hang out in Florida. It doesn’t snow in southern Florida. Ever . . . it rains occasionally but it never snows. In southern Florida raindrops are warm. You know how you like to catch a snowflake on your tongue? Try a warm raindrop.

The astronomical winter (Northern Hemisphere) ends Wednesday, March 19. Still, it could snow, sometimes in April. But not in southern Florida. At this point, you probably think winter will never end, and we’ll all be cold and freezing for the rest of our lives. It isn’t hopeless, just watch the trees bud and the crocuses poke out of the ground in the not too far off future. We. Can. Dream.

END winter NOW! Your thoughts?

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