Chilly Hill Fun

December 10, 2017

Chilly Hill Fun

We’re usually busy on the weekends.  Because of an unexpected break, we discovered we could go to the bayfront to watch the boats parade by dressed up in Christmas lights.

So, Mom, sisters, cousin, and brother all gathered into the van (we had to go pick one sister up from her event to join us!) and made our way to the free “nights of lights shuttle” parking area.  This was my first time using this service, and it was fantastic!  We arrived at the bus stop (county health department) about 4:30pm.  The girls played “rock, paper, scissors” and softly sang along to the Christmas songs while Lucas announced the passing of every bus, big truck, and string of Christmas lights; usually adding “we on a bus, Mom!”  We were at the parking garage drop off & did the short walk to the fort to arrive just before 5pm.

At that moment, although it was Florida chilly (low 60s) the wind chill wasn’t too bad.  I kept reminding the girls to put on their jackets (which, like most younglings, they had tried to “forget” both at home and in the van).

Four girls and Lucas rolled down the fort hill (Lucas actually rolled in the flat dirt, much to the entertainment of his older sisters), ran about playing some version of “Tag” with any other child who crossed their path, and periodically bounced to the older girls’ perch on the bayfront wall asking, “are the boats coming yet?”

Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, and Anastasia spied a Fire Department boat with red lights and a Police boat with blue lights that appeared to be racing!  They each cheered for their favorite color – blue won.  But the red one stayed right in front of our spot so Lucas yelled “Hi, red fire boat!” almost every time he glanced that way for the next 20 minutes.

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Finally, the boats started to line up.  It was nearly 6pm and the temperature was reading low 40s with 30s wind chill!  The girls were huddled together like ducklings next to mom while Louis turned into an “emperor penguin” wind barrier.

The boats were beautiful!  (I have to get a camera that takes good night pictures!  Everything after dark was blurry.)   The first was a pirate ship!  The cannon from the fort fired three shots!  The girls claimed the pirate boat fired back… they were too cold to duck and cover.  Then came the gingerbread-cookie boats.  Anastasia and Jillian decided they tasted good and began to make chomping noises and say “yummy boat” in deep voices.  By the time the neon purple one circled to the far side, the girls were frigid and when Anastasia said, “can we please go to the warm bus?” Lucas added, “bye bye boats!” and we started back.

We also had to get Christina back to CAP before 8pm!

After the fastest .7 mile family walk with Louis timing (aided by a sturdy double stroller), we boarded the warm bus and sang songs while Jillian and Anastasia goofed off and Lucas reminded everyone about each boat he had seen.

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We got Christina back in time.  Before we got home, only Mom and Rebeccah were still awake.  So we will leave you as we snuggle with the sleepies on the couch and start watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” to end our perfect day!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Silver Springs

November 10, 2017

The Real Florida

What comes to your mind when you think of Florida?  Sunny beaches, theme parks, high priced T-shirts, Publix supermarkets?

How about alligators, turtles, cypress trees with diameters of fifteen feet, shimmering sunlight streaming through dissolved limestone particles in gushing spring water to give a silver blue tint to the crystal clear water?

This is Silver Springs

As the sign says (it’s the Florida State Parks logo) “the Real Florida!”

History is alive with the mementos of past years when numerous television shows and movies were made in the beautiful surroundings.

Tourists were riding on glass bottom boats in the 1870s – and if you want to feel like you are swimming with the critters without braving the cold springs water, you have to take the glass bottom boat ride!  (And you are safe too; the alligators, turtles, and snakes are outside the boat and your windows have bars!)

The Captain will say “this is 81 feet deep,” and you stare down at magical swirling waters pushing fish up in rising natural roller coasters.  (You can hear them squealing “weeeeeee” as they spiral up from the bottom with their tails wagging behind them.)

If you want to get even closer to the water wildlife, rent a canoe or kayak!  In one of these sleek craft, you can paddle down the beautiful river and feel like you are part of the unscathed beauty of nature.

There is a boardwalk through the swamp where you can get close to the huge trees and look down into the water.  Amazing birds are easy to hear but hard to catch on camera when your assistants are pretending the boardwalk is a drum for feet!

On the magnificent nature walks, you will see gigantic ancient trees and could possibly run into the wild monkey troupe!

(Or you may have your own wannabe monkey riding on you.)

Some of these trees have fallen and create amazing obstacle courses for the more adventurous in your group.  (You can play “don’t step on the ground” and jump from fallen log to fallen log – just be very careful not to fall off!)

Or you can sit at the top of a leaning stump where no one can reach you.  (Unless you are surrounded by wannabe monkeys who race to see who can reach you first!)

The cost to get in is only $2 a person!  It is extra to ride the glass bottom boats or rent a canoe.  This wild, historic destination is a perfect setting for a wedding among the wild flowers and rustic wooden arbor.  Research this gem at www.SilverSprings.com and check out the Real Florida any day of the year!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

October 30, 2017

New Story Release!

Welcome to the ninth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Happy Hurricane Helpers.”

Following Hurricane Irma’s attack on their town in Florida, the sisters join with their neighbors and help clean up.

Hurricane Irma was a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes usually decrease in power as they travel over land.  Hurricane Irma had traveled almost straight up Florida’s peninsula from the Keys.  When this storm hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

In coastal areas like Saint Augustine, most hurricane damage is caused by flooding.  The strong winds can fell huge trees, rip debris off houses, throw limbs through windows, and cause heavy damage as well.  Trees falling on power lines caused the sisters to be out of power.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, how about a preview of two scenes from “Happy Hurricane Helpers!

Kim awoke this morning before the sun even started to turn the edge of the sky pink.  Last night, the power had gone off and the sisters had camped out in their sleeping bags under the huge, sturdy wooden table in the safe room where there were no windows.  Last night they had heard the deep rumbling that sounded like standing next to train tracks when the train raced by.  Last night Hurricane Irma had hit Saint Augustine. 

   As soon as the tree on the dirt road was clear, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill followed Mom and Daddy and started helping with limb cleanup.  Some of the Tree family kids were out cleaning limbs too.  Two other children from a house down the paved road joined in the fun.  The Tree men had left a trail of sawed-off branches scattered where the big trees had fallen.  They had stacked big round stacks of trunk wood by the road because those were too heavy for little kids.  But the branches were perfect for kids! 

   Six-year-old Kim flexed her muscles. 

   “I can drag this BIG one to the road!” She challenged, dragging a limb to the edge of the road. 

   “I got a bigger one!” said Tina. 

   Becky and Ellen laughed.  “We are doing teamwork!”  Ellen announced.  She was four and her blankie was draped over her shoulders like a boa.

   “Me too!” Jill called.  Jill was only two but she loved to help.  She had a two-year-old-sized branch and was making funny faces as she fought it to the edge of the road.

   “Let me help you, Jill,” offered Tina. 

   “No!” Jill yanked the branch and it flew out of her hands and right to the edge!  Jill stood up straight, brushed her hands on her jeans, and said, “I can do it myself!” 

   … (continued reading Happy Hurricane Helpers here!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Sand

June 12, 2017

Sand

It was a busy, start-at-3am kind of day.  We’d planned on going to the beach but it was almost 6pm and I was still working.  Unpacked boxes stacked in precarious towers in what would be the music nook – if we ever got the piano, drums, guitar, bass, and other assorted nose-makers from storage.  The front room resembled tornado-aftermath footage; shoes without their organizer spilled from the single tomato box, book boxes sat about, awaiting the arrival of a bookshelf, folded clothes waited delivery on the couch, and the dogs, exhausted from barking at every neighborhood squirrel since noon, were sprawled out like black rugs.

I knew we’d been working all day, but while trying to conquer the nightly result of supper, a quick glance at the chaos that reigned was rather disheartening.  It seemed that mood of disappointment had rubbed off on everyone.  Toddlers and preschoolers generally act out when they are upset and the older ones appeared to feel like they’d worked all day for a vain goal (the beach).

The cool thing about Florida is that even an early April sunset is close to 7:30.  The neat thing about technology is that everything for my business can be done from one phone; even on a busy night.  A super thing about our crew is the ability to grab-and-go and pack the van in minutes.

We went to the beach.  We hadn’t been to this beach since the previous summer, after Matthew (for non-Floridians, that’s “Hurricane Matthew”) when our beach spot was covered in debris.  “Our spot is back!” Yelled Kimberly.  We parked at our little spot (not legally ours, just where we always try to park) and the beach was beautiful.  The beach is always beautiful here.  It felt like my soul was refreshed just by walking in the sand.  The water was Florida cold, but we’ll get in the ocean in mid-winter and love it.  Lucas and I didn’t go deeper than ankles, but that was because I was dispatching and the surf was rough.  (Lucas loves the rough surf when the water is warm, not a huge fan of it when it’s cold)

We spied fishing boats and Lucas showed everyone the stars as the brightest ones greeted the approaching night.  We took several relaxing pictures.  I realized I had been allowing the normal side-effects of moving to control my attitude.  I should be more like sand; it moves, being formed and shaped by outside forces (kid’s hands, animal feet, car tires) but returns to normal easily.  I should let God be the waves and smooth the roughness of my irritation and frustration away so I’m smooth and even again.

Smooth and even feels so much nicer than frustrated and irritated.  I love how God uses His creation to remind me to slow down and enjoy life!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later,

~Nancy Tart

Florida Weather

June 7, 2017

Florida Weather

Today was normal weather for northeast Florida.  Meaning, when driving over the 312 bridge, we left a vicious thunderstorm and emerged under the sunny blue morning sky!  On the way back 30 minutes later, to our left was pouring rain and to the right was partly cloudy.  Off I95 and 16, there were waves of torrential downpours.  The Walmart parking lot was a temporary lake.  A low-riding car crawled through Lake Walmart with wheels nearly covered!  Fortunately, an escaping toddler had a mother with leopard reflexes and Mom prevented said toddler from a plunge into Lake Walmart.

If you don’t like the current weather, wait ten minutes (or maybe less, we can go from parched to flooded in less time than it takes to read this article).

Florida is a wonderful opportunity for weathermen.  You can basically wave your hands over my town and say, “today has a high chance of rain.” This is 99.99% accurate any day between June and November. (If it’s currently sunny, just amend that to “today we have a 10% chance of rain” and you’re covered in case a cloud shows up over your head because nature likes to laugh.)

You know, sometimes they say “its 90 degrees but feels like 104 because of the heat index.” This is to help you understand that walking around in anything more than a bathing suit and flip-flops will result in rivers of sweat cascading down your body – everywhere. (This includes your fingers and toes!) If you’re asking “what does outside feel like?” the answer is always between “surface of the sun” and “broiling.”

Humidity is never zero. This is because we live surrounded on three sides by water – a peninsula. (a finger of land testing the water screaming, “please, cool me off!”)  Humidity means water in the air.  Okay, imagine walking through the rain and you’ve got my town’s humidity level.  Chickens walk around in perpetual fluffiness and when you pet a dog, your hand gets wet.

All in all, this is a great vacation spot!  You leave normal life to visit us so you can experience noon heat, 2pm humidity, and the afternoon torrent of a cloudburst where everyone’s phones go *BEEP* because the instant weather alert warns (ten minutes after the storm has passed) that “Thunderstorms may be imminent.”  After your vacation, you wonder if the reason people actually live here is because the brain cells of the natives are fried.

Honestly, all jokes aside, we live here because we love it!

I love Florida weather – and love my special little town.

As a side note, the best invention ever for Floridians was the air conditioning unit.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later,

~Nancy Tart