Mount Dora is my haven, my temporary refuge from work, stress, and routines. Several times a year, my husband and I, and sometimes other family combinations which may include my grandchildren and/or daughter, drive two hours south to relax. This is my place of long walks, reading and writing, photography, great food and breathing space.
Today in Mount Dora the breeze is steady. The air is 70’s-warm but with a tinge of coolness reminding us that it really is December. The sunlight is brilliant and golden.
Quick unpacking chores at our favorite rental cottage and we head to the lake. It is early evening. Flocking birds gather in search of their last snacks of the day. Solitary hunters wade in the cool water looking for that last fish to stave off hunger until morning.
The sun glides toward the horizon signaling to the wildlife that night is fast approaching. I sit on a bench at the end of Lighthouse Point watching the intense sparkling of the lake waters. My husband walks our dogs along the water’s edge, giving me a quiet space to gather my thoughts and unwind.
We first came to Mount Dora ten years ago when my daughter and her family moved to Puerto Rico. My grandson was two years old, my granddaughter only two months. They took my heart with them. I was despondent and depressed. I had heard of Mount Dora, mainly as home of one of the largest art festivals in Florida, but knew little else about it. But, she called to me. Seriously, Mount Dora was calling my name and I answered. We spent five healing and rejuvenating days here. When we left I was still sad about the distance that lay between my daughter and grandchildren and me, but I was functioning and my mind was not a muddle of grief. Mount Dora continues to heal, soothe, inspire, and encourage me.
I need this refuge, this haven. Besides the shock of the election and all the resulting fears and concerns that have thundered through our nation and through caring liberals like me, some family issues lay heavy on my heart. Christmas may only be ten days away, but the customary joy and fun of the season feels as distant as the moon that will soon rise above Mount Dora.
Some of my problems hitched a ride and came to Mount Dora with us. We cannot escape everything. I sit quietly and try to push all my problems and the tribulations of the world from my mind. It does not work completely, but enough to grant me some photography time. A chance to only see what is in the lens and nothing that is in the shadows of my mind.
The darkening shadows of evening send an unspoken message to the many birds around me and they suddenly take flight in a loud swoosh and seem to scatter in all directions.
But, I know where they went. To the trees — the nesting trees near the shore where they will spend the night. I walk slowly in that direction, taking photos as I go. An anhinga is posed on a rock, drying his wings before bedtime.
A white ibis that was wading for fish earlier is now on the walkway, looking as though he is trying to decided what to do next. He lets me walk close and take a photo and I am grateful.
I cross the parking lot to the boardwalk that hugs the shoreline of the lake. I can hear the cacophony of squawking and babbling of the roosting birds as I approach. I look up and the trees are dotted with black, brown and white birds, some already settling down for the night, some fighting for the best sleeping limbs. Angry birds peck and pester one another. Displaced birds fly off to return a few seconds later to land and claim a different limb. The evening domination dance of the birds is comical and surprisingly loud.
The birds remind me too much of families — the bickering, the complaining, the constant posturing for position. My peace has been shattered.
I look out over the lake. So blue, so serene and some of my peace returns. The evening shadows lengthen. I will not stay for sunset tonight. Other responsibilities beckon, but I know the sunset will wait for me tomorrow.
For now, I have the serene blue of the water and the sky as the day nears its end. I have the wispy clouds in the distance that are beginning to glow in the deepening sunlight. I have this moment of peace. It surely won’t last, but I have it now.