The farthest state east I've been to is Minnesota. So, going all the way to Florida was a big deal because I hate to fly. Anything over an hour and a half flight I become impatient and nervous. The temp in Denver was 7 degrees when we left. Three and a half hours later I switched from Desert boots to flip flops, jeans to sundress, and within minutes of coming in contact with humidity, my hair resembled Chaka Kahn.
Our 50's bungalow was right on the beach and the best coffee shack just across the street. The neighborhood was Old Florida. Funky beach houses, painted sea foam green or coral. Palm trees lined the narrow streets, barefoot children played in their yards, surfers rode bicycles, with surfboards tucked under their arms. Everyone was friendly, laid back and m e l l o w. I didn't want to leave.
After three days of doing nothing but viewing exotic birds, picnicking on the beach and falling asleep to the lull of the waves, it was time to move on down the line. It was Key West time!
Once again, the cottage here was 50's era, pale turquoise with bamboo everywhere. A tiki bar covered in palm fronds and live acoustic guitar music nightly. We found an open air fruit and veggie market nearby. While sipping coconut juice, we opened up the brochure of things to do and places to go for the next two days, while in Key West.
Then we got the call.
My dear friend, the nanny to our cats, painstakingly reported over the telly that the city's main sewer line, yep, that's right, backed up into our basement. Immediately, we made phone call after phone call. We were finally able to contact a company to get on the scene. At this point, nobody knew it was the city's line. When the drain and sewer pros arrived, the problem couldn't be fixed by them. That's when they discovered it was the city's main line in the street. Let me tell you, by this time the WATER has risen to three inches! Our whole basement was full of the city's crap!
More phone calls.
After finally contacting the city, they came out and did their duty which stopped any further damage. But, by this time, enough damage had been done, as you can imagine. My friend donned her rubber boots, recruited her husband, and frantically and lovingly piled all our things in higher places. I think she was most concerned about my art room. Some things are ruined but she saved most everything important. Especially my unfinished horse paintings and easels, which were just lying about, haphazardly on the floor. Sometimes I like to sprawl out on the floor and surround myself with art supplies and paper and pastels and and coffee cups and letters I've started to Umber Dove. Well now, all ruined. And those gypsy beads I showed you awhile back? Gross!
Did I mention that while all this was going on, through the panic, with all those emergency phone calls we were making, we were standing in front of Hemingways house. We got the terrible news just before entering the gate to his estate. Sitting on the curb, in a sorry state of mind, my husband and I looked at each other and decided that there wasn't much else we could do at this point, so we would try to have a nice time while we were here.
We did enjoy seeing the cute faces of Hemingway's cats and took the tour of his home, learning all the interesting and juicy tidbits of Ernest's life and his many wives. Needing more kitty time, we hung out in the gardens with the five-toed felines and sadly made the decision to try to fly home early. We made an attempt to leave but the arrangements were costly and not working out in our favor.
Back at our cottage, still in a state of shock, we drank tea and read travel brochures and turned on CNN. That night, we had a very romantic candlelight dinner, overlooking a boat harbor. We shared key lime pie and watched the sun go down.
Two days later, we were finally landing in Denver. Mountains! Snow! Blue sky! Sun! Perfect! Driving north to our home in WY, still thinking and wondering what kind of mess awaits us there, we promptly headed west to our lovely land, to the Silver Bullet, because if anything could cheer us up, that place will. And it did. It was blanketed in snow with a variety of wild animal tracks crisscrossing everywhere. I'm pretty sure we have a bobcat making regular visits. Big smile. I took pictures of some tracks in the snow, but I'm not sure who left them. Any ideas? Please tell me what your guess is. I bet The Plume would know.
Making that spontaneous stop in our little village was the best medicine. Especially after being so far away, in a landscape so different. The peacefulness of the mountains, the pines in winter and the feeling of wildlife nearby, it was practically euphoric. There's nothing like going away for awhile to make you appreciate where you live.
On the drive home, I took pictures of the prairie and sky. I no longer saw swamps or gators. I didn't see any snowy egrets or wood storks or blue herons or palm trees, but my down parka felt good and I kissed my UGG boots. I would never love Wyoming as much as I did at that moment.
I shan't bore you with details of the clean up crew coming and going, the industrial size fans roaring inside my house, the cramped quarters in our bedroom where we huddle together along with our cats and their food bowls and toys and...not to mention the enormous cost of mending it all.
Look what we discovered after the carpet was ripped out. A thunderbird symbol! Some tribes believed that when the thunderbird flapped its enormous wings, it created thunder, which meant war. Cat nanny said to me, "How appropriate". She knows me well. As long as I can remember, I've had an interest in the Native American culture. I admire their spirit and history. I own a teepee and I wear moccasins. Real Indian blankets cover the floors and tables and bed in my adobe house. I worship the sun like the Plains people. The revealing of this bird is a shining light in our catastrophe and I would never have known it was gracing my basement floor had the flood not occurred. How's that for looking on the bright side?