The Villages – Lake Sumter Town Square…..

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

First of three posting on The Villages –

Lake Sumter Town Square

If one tries to explain the uniqueness of The Villages in Florida to someone that has never visited there, it is completed inadequately.

Without visiting and experiencing The Villages for yourself, you can’t possibility appreciate or begin to understand “Florida’s Friendliest Hometown”. This statement is true – everyone we meet is friendly.

It is, as I have said, unique. However, it is much more – it is beautiful, inspiring and a true gift to the family that makes it their home.

It is a place for the active person with its many golf courses, walking and bicycling trails, numerous other outdoor activities, exercise and recreation facilities, clubs, town centers and one-stop-shopping for – well everything!

As we travel in Florida, I love to stop in Wildwood and spend a few days roaming around The Villages – walking in and out of the many shops, listening to music in the evening at the town square, enjoying a meal overlooking a lake, relaxing on a park bench watching the wildlife of the four or two legged variety, or taking photos (one of my very favorite activities).

Simply stated – “It makes my heart sing with joy to see so many people, of all ages, truly enjoying their life.”

A lovely outdoor dance floor!
A lovely outdoor dance floor!
A nice place for lunch overlooking Lake Sumter
A nice place for lunch overlooking Lake Sumter
Lake Sumter on a cloudy day
Looking for a line dance!!
Looking for a line dance!!
Get your Golf Cart and lets go shopping!!
Get your Golf Cart and lets go shopping!!
He made his choice - Chocolate Cherry Kiss!
He made his choice – Chocolate Cherry Kiss! Hubby coffee shopping.

When Evening turns to Sunset…..

When Evening turns to Sunset.....
When Evening turns to Sunset…..

You bring us your beauty at the end of each day,

Shared so unselfishly.

No one really notices beyond the brilliance that you offer,

When evening turns to sunset that your display is scientific – no matter.

You ceremoniously paint the western sky with your light,

Bringing dramatic, warm, romantic hues of color for all to admire.

You guide us to the horizon with your nightly descend,

As we stare in still wonder never taking for granted this amazing sight.

Some days you’re aided with clouds and other aspects of nature,

Maybe birds soaring high one last time this day.

If one is so inspired we may be standing by a lake,

To see your beauty not once, but twice as it spreads on the surface.

Reflections of emotion caught in the beams of your light,

To be remembered and imprinted in our mind.

We thank you for your contribution at the end of this day,

And look forward until tomorrow when you become visible to us again.

Staring out to sea…..

Everyday he sits on a bench staring out to sea; how long he has been doing this I’m not sure. His skin is deeply tanned so I am thinking he has sat many hours on this bench.

He is Italian. You know this upon first meeting him; he proudly wears a hat with Italy written across the front. I don’t recall ever seeing him without this hat. This winter he tells me “I am doing okay for an eighty-five year old.” So now I know his age.

Over the years, I have learned he was born and raised somewhere in the mountains of Italy, exactly where I am not sure. Be assured that wherever it was he truly and deeply loved it there.

His father and mother moved to New York City from Italy when he was 27 years old. I am not sure if he really wanted to leave Italy, but I do know that he had a wonderful life in New York City. From the way he talks about America, he loves this country as well as Italy.

His family members were cheese makers. From all accounts, as the stories are told, the very best cheese makers! I believe him.

His father felt that at the age of 27 he was not ready to venture out on his own. He had to learn the family business first and that he did by working for free until his father said he was good enough to be paid. Oh my can you imagine a father telling his son this today.

His father also felt that at 27 he was still too young to marry, so he waited. I think he had already picked a wife, an Italian, and when given the okay from his family, they were married and eventually had two children. I don’t know at what age he got married. As I write this story I realize there are so many questions I need to ask him.

They all lived in the same home, with one kitchen; he likes to laugh about that now – his parents, him and his family. Many squabbles took place mostly about what and how to prepare the evening meals. Two strong-headed Italian women wanting to cook “their” way – Geez! As he tells this story it is shared with love and not regret, I can tell by the way he laughs as he speaks.

His cheese making abilities led to another successful business, a deli and grocery, which was located on a corner next door to their home. “I did not have to drive to work” he tells me. “We made and sold the very best cheeses” he states proudly. I think they must have owned this deli and grocery for a very long time.

Exactly when he and his wife moved to south Florida from New York City, I don’t know. I do know that his wife loved both the warmth and the sea, because he tells us about her – a little. She passed away not that long ago and I get the impression it is still painful for him to talk about her.  I do know that he loved her more than life. At times he seems sad and he has stated that he misses her very much. When he stares out to sea, as he sits on his bench, he is thinking of her – I just know this to be true.

My husband and I met him about three years ago, because we drive to the beach to walk our dogs and after our walk, we spent a little time cooling off while sitting on a bench staring out to sea. You see it is a very relaxing and comforting habit. It is also a wonderful way for a stranger to become a friend. From year to year he remembers our name, which amazes me. Of course what I love more is that he calls me “sweetheart” in his still heavy Italian accent.

I truly adore him! His name is Joe and we have become friends. He always has a smile to share, a story to tell and what I think I enjoy most – a lesson to be learned, if you truly listen, on how to prepare an Italian meal!  He still cooks his own meals all from scratch and of course all prepared with the very best Italian ingredients and with the very best cheese! You won’t catch Joe eating in any Italian restaurant!

As he stares out to sea, probably remembering those he lost, may he please be at peace knowing he will see them again someday. Not too soon I hope, because I want to see him sitting on his bench, starting out to sea and enjoying the warmth of the sun, upon my return.

Until next time Joe – be well my friend and think of more stories to share…

Hobe Sound, Florida, with sadness we say goodbye…..

Life on the Intracoastal Waterway
Life on the Intracoastal Waterway

It was with sadness and immense anticipation we said farewell to Hobe Sound, Florida. We left there this past Sunday and drove to a new location – Lake Louisa State Park located in Clermont, Florida. We have never been to this state park and we look forward to our stay here and the opportunity to explore this area. Hopefully, I will have a few things to say about Lake Louisa State Park to include a few photos.

It felt great to be back on the road again!

We spent the last two months in Hobe Sound and truly enjoyed this unincorporated little town, which lies between Jupiter to the south and Stuart to the north. We have family that lives in Hobe Sound and we will sadly miss them until our next visit. Their hospitality was something we will treasure always – everything from dinners and happy hours to boat rides and long conversations while enjoying the setting sun – it was wonderful!

We had some great adventures these past two months. We explored Jonathan State Park, walked along the beaches in the area, went for boat rides along the Intracoastal Waterway, kayaked the Loxahatchee River, shopped in some quirky little shops, ate some delicious seafood in the many local restaurants and some days simply just relaxed in the sun and mild temperatures!

Besides Howard catching the Flu, Koudy going to the vet with a hurt paw, Skye going to the groomer and getting her back legs “shaved” (boy was I upset) – it was a perfect two months!!

A few photos:

Expression of a Sunset
Expression of a Sunset
A Beautiful Evening Reflection
A Beautiful Evening Reflection
Reflection of a Hunter
Reflection of a Hunter
Reflection on the Seashore
Reflection on the Seashore
Reflections on a Pond
Reflections on a Pond
Reflections on a River
Reflections on a River

Reflections of a visit with memories to share,

Until next time life is to be enjoyed and lived with flair

Trust me when I say,

Future plans will be made with care,

To visit those again that live by the bay

Florida Scrub-Jay…..

Florida Scrub-Jay
Eating a cached acorn

Florida Scrub Jay, endemic to the state of Florida. This beautiful Jay is listed on both the federal and state threatened species lists with 4,000 breeding pairs estimated to be left in the state of Florida. Note the bands on the legs.

These Jays are omnivorous – they eat acorns, seeds, peanuts, insects, tree frogs, turtles, snakes, lizards and mice.

Back view
Beautiful Florida Scrub-Jay

Here is a photo I took this summer of “my” Western Scrub-Jay.

In my yard all spring and summer!
In my yard all spring and summer!

Enjoying retirement: On The Road & At Home