When you wake up early on a Sunday morning to perfect fall weather you seize the day. It’s been two weeks but the memory of our 68 degree morning air still gives me hope. Garrett and I went to the early morning service and then to our favorite street for brunch. With full bellies and happy hearts we decided to check out Jean Lafittee National Park. The day was perfection. We hit the trails in hopes of spotting a gator. (maybe more so my hope than Garrett’s) It’s not easy to capture the feel but those trees are magic. We talked and laughed and dodged spider webs and said hello to fellow trail blazers. My word for this year is present and there’s something special about exploring that keeps me grounded. By walking, hearing the sounds, chatting with people, eating the food, sitting on a bench, noticing things at crosswalks… all the little moments really, it helps me become a part of this place. Sometimes you gotta feel it to know it. This city definitely gives me all the feelings. Perhaps sometimes a bit too many, but that’s part of the charm. Maybe its because this city prides itself on taking things slow, or because people come here to let loose. But there’s an honesty about people that comes out. Maybe it’s voodoo or maybe it’s something else entirely. All I know is that each step I take here I find a little bit more of myself.
We were nearing the end of our last trail and unfortunately still hadn’t spotted a gator. In a rush of disappointment I realized how much it meant to me. We passed a mother and daughter and they told us one was not far off the trail. I could feel the excitement building under my skin. We slowed down and scanned the marsh step by step. When it seemed we had missed it entirely I breathed a prayer. “There he is,” Garrett said almost in the same instance. Not more than five or six feet away we spotted an eye and a head. (try looking directly under the hanging moss.) It was in that moment we realized we were not in a zoo and suddenly felt a healthy dose of respect for a creature with a free will capable of making decisions. Equal parts fear and excitement filled me to the brim. We reverently stood and whispered, suddenly aware that we were the outsiders to this place. It was a fantastic few minutes. Then I attempted to get a family photo of us with the gator. It felt very wrong to turn our backs, but it was worth a potentially great Christmas card. Clearly I missed the gator all together, but I still love it just the same.