"Isn't the Spanish moss lovely? I just love the ways it hangs from the trees," said Nancy, looking upward. We were at Lake Seminole park, a short 15 minute drive from where she lives in St. Petersburg, FL. This morning when I came to visit her I suggested that we have a picnic to take advantage of the lovely weather and get her outside. She looked at me and agreed. "Anything you want Erik.
Getting my aunt ready for an outing can be trying as I need to get her portable wheelchair into the car and make sure I have a bag with little essentials anticipating any possible event. But today Nancy is in good spirits and cooperative and we get her and a few belongings into the car quickly. The first stop is a local sandwich shop where we pick up lunch and then off to the park.
The park's main feature is a large lake that has a population of alligators and while I have never seen one, there are signs warning would-be feeders to keep their hands to themselves. As we enter, the car passes under a forest of oaks, palms and pines that appear consumed by bunches of fluffy blue-gray Spanish moss. The oaks, in particular, appear occupied by the moss which envelops most of the tiny leaves that are attempting to poke their way out.
I wheel Nancy over to a picnic table under the shade and take out lunch: turkey, chips and ice tea. As Nancy did not have breakfast, she eagerly grabbed her sandwich. "This is so wonderful! It is delicious," she said mid-chew. "I love the Spanish moss."
As she grabs a chip we both survey the area. The lake is a deep green that is full of life, evidenced by fish jumping out looking for an insect meal. The grounds are covered with a patena of dried oak leaves and pine needles. The pine trees, with their yellow and brown bark, look just like a ponderosa pine but different. I later discover that it is the native sand pine scrub.
Nancy pays little attention to me rather focusing on the few monarchs and yellow butterflies that float around the picnic table we occupy. Grackles also make a show looking for a quick handout; Nancy is well aware of their desires and shoos them away. Hawks and a lone great blue heron are not nearly as bold focusing instead on fishing the nearby lake.
The lake appears between seasons with purple loostrife beginning to bloom and pollen from the pines coating tables as well as the roof shielding us from the sun. "It's so nice to be out. I love the Spanish moss," says Nancy as she finishes her ice tea. "It is so peaceful out here. Do we have to go yet?" I tell her we don't and just enjoy the weather.
Nancy doesn't say much just looking outward, occasionally turning her head. There are no signs of gators and the dragonflies continue to dart along the shoreline and over the water. Near many of the palm trees are palmettos with their sharp serrated leaves. Nancy gives me a smile looking outward. "Do we have to go yet? I love the Spanish moss."