Insomnia hits and midnight passes with me still awake. I entertain myself by looking at the photos I took of Mount Dora’s extraordinary holiday light display. In the evening my husband and I walked through Donnelly Park enjoying the lights along with the crowds of people who visit the town every evening from Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s.
The streets were busy with shoppers and gawkers. In spite of my lack of Christmas spirit, I still appreciated the beauty of the twinkling lights, swaying in a soft cool breeze. Our destination was a cafe called One Flight Up, so named because it is one flight up from the street. My husband nibbled a chicken salad sandwich as I sipped my favorite chai latte while listening to a young woman with auburn dreadlocks playing the guitar and singing pop and country songs with a distinctive folksy style, reminiscent of Buffy St. Marie from the 60’s and 70’s.
Sadness envelopes me as we slowly stroll past City Hall and up the hill to our cottage. Our last evening in Mount Dora. Tomorrow we return to everyday life — work, household chores, bill paying, family strife. Even the holiday lights cannot shine away the apprehension I feel.
An hour passes and I finally feel the veil of sleepiness. I close my computer and am soon asleep beside my husband as our Pekingese snores in the hallway.
Morning arrives with a strong, steady, humid wind. We take the same route through Donnelly Park on our way to breakfast. There are no lights shining, but the streets are still crowded with shoppers.
We come to Mount Dora often enough that our post-breakfast packing routine is automatic. In just a few minutes the car is loaded and the dogs are settled in the backseat as we make one last stop at Grantham Park before going north.
Men are fishing on the choppy lake, their boats rocking side-to-side. I have never seen the water such a brilliant blue. I am forced to squint as I look for wading birds and alligators. Alligators like stillness, so I am not surprised there are none along the shore or the rocky edges of the lighthouse peninsula. But, I am pleased to find a young heron ignoring the turbulent waters in search of a late breakfast — or perhaps an early lunch. Although I see adult herons regularly around the lake, a juvenile heron is an unusual and special treat for me. An early Christmas gift. I take several photos until some laughing, screeching children pass by and my young feathered friend takes flight in search of a quieter fishing spot.
I call to my husband who, like usual, is walking our dogs while I play photographer and we pile dogs and ourselves in the car and back out of our parking space, still gazing at gorgeous Lake Dora before us. I sigh as we pull onto Tremain Street. Soon the glistening lake can only be seen in our rear view mirror. Home is at least two hours away and Saturday traffic, especially the week before Christmas, will likely be heavy. No reason to delay any longer. It is time to go home.