Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exploring--Right Near Home--Return to Big Talbot Island

I hope you will indulge me as I repeat a couple of posts from the beginning of this blog. Since there are many new readers (and most readers, I suspect, do not read all the posts going back to the beginning), I will occasionally repeat a post that has generated some interest. Welcome back to Big Talbot Island State Park.
Wherever we have lived, I have enjoyed playing tourist near home. It doesn't cost much (sometimes is free, especially if one can walk or bike there) and often reveals delightful new surprises. We are fortunate to have many friends and family members from other parts of the USA or other countries who come to stay with us. Spending time showing them our home town and surroundings takes us places we might neglect to experience otherwise. How many of us hear about nearby interesting places we would like to explore and yet postpone doing that month after busy month?
Here's a thought. Even if you don't have visitors, promise yourself an outing sometime soon. Choose a place and put it on your calendar. Or step out the door right now, stroll around for a few minutes or more with all your senses on high alert. Take a camera and make like a tourist. What if you were paying money for your "lodgings"--wouldn't you explore the area?
Or, imagine yourself hosting a visitor from someplace quite unlike your region. If it is hard to see the farms around you with fresh eyes, pretend you are guiding visitors from Saudi Arabia. Wouldn't they be amazed at the rolling hills or vast plains in lush greens or rich golden tones? Or if your city neighborhood is seeming drab and uninteresting, imagine giving small-town visitors a tour of the ethnic food stalls and lunch counters in some surrounding blocks. Wouldn't they love hearing multiple languages and savoring the varied aromas and flavors?
We had lived in Jacksonville, FL for several years before a visit from a brother who lives in Cleveland, Ohio prompted me to explore Big Talbot Island State Park. A stark contrast to the endless, wide Jacksonville beaches most visitors flock to, the shore of Big Talbot is a quiet, somewhat ghostly walk along low bluffs. Over time, the battering of storms and storm tides has toppled and sculpted oaks, pines, and other vegetation into a unique atmosphere (begging for artistic photographers--and for us amateurs, too). The shady, wooded trail from parking to an overlook is short and easy, and another short trail leads to a path down the bluff to the shore. There are other hiking trails in the Big Talbot Park preserve, through heavily wooded areas dripping with Spanish moss or along the fascinating, varied habitat of salt marshes--bird-watching and just breathing deeply made an afternoon here feel like an extended vacation.
Question of the day: Why did I wait for an out-of-town visitor to explore this nearby natural wonder? What will you explore for the first time or see in a new way soon?


  1. Mary, I'm glad you repeated this! It looks totally unlike Florida, more like the northwest coast. I think if I were going to visit someplace nearby I haven't seen yet, I'd choose Kerrville, TX. I keep hearing good things about it...

  2. thank you for visiting my blog...especially because I have now discovered yours...I'm sitting here thinking of places close by I can's so true that the natives often ignore many good sites around them. I love your pix and paintings. P

  3. Oh Mary - this is my lucky day! I am friends with AutumnLeaves & just loved what you told her! I thought I wish I could know Mary!

    So I visited & joy of joy! You are in Jacksonville! ME TOO!

    We must begin a dialogue - maybe even explore together sometime!

    I am delighted to make your acquaintance and REALLY look forward to getting to know you!

    Beckie Saar Leone
    Painting With Erin and Annie
    The Second Verse of My Song
    Jacksonville Beach, FL

  4. I have lived my whole life doing just as you describe. It is one of my life's joys. There is beauty all around; you just have to keep your eyes and your heart open.

  5. It is super to hear from all of you and to hear about places near home you like to visit or may plan to visit in the future.

    Nancy, I love the beauty and variety of northeast coastal Florida--our natural habitats are very different from the areas further south or on the Gulf, the types of places most people think of as "typical Florida." Since we have moved here, I continue to find new delights and to enjoy the challenge of painting them for others to enjoy. I hope you get to Kerrville soon.

    Patricia, I appreciate your visit and your kind comments. Let us know what new places you discover near your home.

    Wow, Beckie, what a wonderful serendipity that we found each other online via our connection with Autumn Leaves in Illinois--love it! I am eager to get to know you and to see more of your painting. What I saw on your blog is lovely. Please stay in touch.

    Autumn Leaves, I know you are exactly the kind of person who would explore and appreciate the beauty all around you. I look forward to hearing about your explorations as autumn comes on in Illinois--and perhaps to see some autumn drawings or paintings.