We kept Woody's cousin Aila out of school today to take a trip with us to the Lighthouse at Ponce Inlet. It was about 17 stories and exactly 203 steps to the top. I stopped once about 2/3 of the way up for a wee breather, but once we got up there it was lovely to see so far out into the water with the sail boats and wind surfers and pelicans and aquamarine water. We talked a lot about wind up there, the kids wanting to know why people parasail at the beach, how they get so far up, how they stay up, etc.
The road leading up to the lighthouse is a wildlife crossing area, and wouldn't you know it! We saw crossing wildlife. It was a gopher tortoise, which momentarily made me revisit my slightly melodramatic proclamation in an earlier post that Woody may never see one in the wild since they're a species threatened by habitat loss.
Of course, the threat was nearer than we knew; moments after we began pulling away from the tortoise, a white sedan pulled up fast behind us, and immediately began swerving, riding close, and honking at us. It was a two-lane road with narrow grassy shoulders so, I stopped, rolled down my window, and waved this other car around.
When he pulled around me, he stopped, window to window, to start yelling. It was angry middle-aged white man yelling, ranting and indignant and nonsensical, the kind that is delivered with neck veins bulging and sweat showing lightly at blond temples. I stared at him until he ran out of his hot breath with all those mean words, then I asked him, loudly and rhetorically, what the hell was wrong with him.
He drove on. We drove on. I said something to the kids about people who are behaving badly and putting other people at risk, but I didn't know quite what to say about my yelling.
This was a little ironic because the night before, when I had been shopping for a few snacks for our trip, I met a woman at the deli counter who was in town leading compassion workshops at the same hotel that our wedding guests stayed at in Maitland. We talked about nonviolent communication and she gave me her card, with this sweet little exercise on it. (And boo hiss. I'm having trouble with my photo editing software tonight and can't rotate this. Oh, well. Hopefully the story works without the specifics.)
With the gift of time and distance, I can feel compassion for this man and the hurts that clearly dominate his psyche. But I don't know. At the time, I was really wishing he was not being such an ass.
And of course, being right there on the coast, we got in one last beach day. We saw a dead Man-of-War jelly fish so vividly colored it looked fake. Also, our umbrella blew away in the aforementioned winds, and I had a Lucille Ball moment trying desperately to retrieve it only to accidentally turn it, open, directly away from the gusts so that it was nearly snatched from my hands but then the whole thing snapped inside out and was completely ruined.
The kids thought that was terrifically funny, but then they helped me to stuff it into its plastic bag and we left it in the trash can.