It was a very cool sunrise through deep fog this morning.
Each day I've been here, central Florida has risen in my estimation. Yesterday a college friend who lives in Orlando met N. and me for a bike ride in Clermont. Clermont, evidently, is known for its bike trails, and it is where everyone in Florida comes for riding, training for triathlons, etc. Beautiful day, amazing trails that go for miles and miles, with little "stations" along the way for bike rentals, air for tires, water stops, etc. And you ride through towns and neighborhoods that you would never otherwise see.
This is what travel is all about. When we take the time to see a place, to explore it, get to know it, try to look at it through the eyes of people who call it home, we are richer for the knowledge. A few days can hardly serve the purpose much of the time, especially if you are flying in on business and spending your days in meetings. It's not impossible though.
Shortly after our twins were born and A. was just over two years old, J. went through the matching process for residency programs in pediatrics. Rochester, NY was the place he matched, and I was apprehensive. For me, it felt like moving off to the midwest, to the middle of nowhere. For quite a while, even while I was living there, I bemoaned the flatness of the landscape and the distance away from everywhere I knew. I always had my eyes on the east coast - where I expected to return some day.
Somewhere along the way, without even realizing it, I grew to feel at home out there. We visited New Hampshire one long weekend and I felt claustrophobic. Everything was so closed in by woods and hills. By the time we moved back east, I realized that I had become attached to Rochester's open, sweeping views, and the city's museums and parks and annual events. I regret that I didn't open up to letting that happen sooner, but it did teach me a lesson.
So - I should not have been so quick to dismiss central Florida's high points (up here on Skytop Drive). The woman on the plane that I met flying down here said it well. She was, coincidentally, from Rochester, NY. But she has lived in Florida for decades and raised her children here. She still looks back fondly to Rochester and calls it "where she is from", and she dislikes the transient nature of Florida culture. But, she said, I've lived here for so long now, and for better or for worse, it feels like home. It's my home.
If we enter every place we travel with the idea that it is someone's home, it can open up our minds to new ways of seeing and feeling a place.
This is what the softball fields looked like at 7:30 in the morning (you can see the tops of the field lights). I wondered if they might have trouble playing there today, but as soon as the sun got higher in the sky, the fog dissolved like magic.