This past week my husband and I went on a brief vacation/work trip to Florida. It was our first trip to Florida. My goal for our trip was not to come home weighing more than when I left Minnesota and his was not to get sunburned the first day we arrived and spoil the rest of his trip. Mission accomplished on both fronts.
Before we left for Florida I let a few of my blogging friends know that we would be in their area last week. As quick as I let the cat out of the bag I had three emails from bloggers suggesting times and places we could get together if it worked in our schedule. I thought how fun it would be to meet some of the people I had blogged with over the past year.
Last Monday we spent a delightful day with blogger Nancy & BFF from http://nrhatch.wordpress.com. When we arrived at their home she had a cooler packed with homemade sweet tea and some snacks for our outing. We spent the an hour checking out the local sites and seeing things I’ve never seen before like the Gumbo Limbo tree. If I could plant one of them in my Minnesota backyard with hopes of it surviving our cold winters it would be on the top of my list.
Then we headed off to Anna Maria Island where we feasted on lunch al fresco at Rotten Ralph’s restaurant. It was wonderful eating outdoors with the breezes blowing. The waitress warned us that the winds might blow our chips off our plates. That never happened. We ate with the sun shining and the conversations flowing. After lunch we headed to the other end of the island and out on one of the piers and watched the pelicans taking off and landing. Entertained by live music on the deck, we watched and listened to our surroundings. It felt wonderful to absorb the warm sunshine.
How many times did I just mention sunshine? I think I have a theme going on…
After visiting the island we headed back to Nancy’s for more conversation on their deck overlooking a waterway that surrounds their home. We observed the local birds coming and going, Spoonbills, Pelicans and many others that I have since forgotten the names. The one thing I will never forget is the hospitality shown to complete strangers from Minnesota by our new Florida friends and how they made time in their schedules to show us the paradise that surrounds them.
Monday afternoon after we arrived back at our hotel my husband received a call from another car dealer who has a home in Inverness who heard that we were in Florida and he and his wife invited us to their home in Inverness and out to lunch the next day. When we are home in Minnesota there is very little time outside of work for socializing with other car dealers so this was the first time we had been out to eat with this couple. We work within an hour of each other back in Minnesota. The guys had a great time discussing the changes in the used car business and I had fun getting to know his wife and more about their family.
Before we left Minnesota we had dinner plans for Wednesday evening made with two other couples that I have blogged with over the past year. Joe of http://joeclarksblog.wordpress.com and Tyler of http://sidebarreview.wordpress.com made arrangements for us to meet for dinner in Sanford, FL. Joe’s wife and Tyler’s husband joined us for dinner. Joe and Tyler picked out Two Blondes and a Shrimp restaurant in Historic Sanford, FL as the place we would meet for dinner. We met around the dinner table and the conversation flowed for hours but ended way too soon. We talked of writing, flying, social networks, taxes, history, friends and family. The food was excellent and the conversation even better. As I sat listening to each tell their stories in person it was if I had known each of them for a longer time.
As I reflect on the busyness of the past few years, I realize the one thing that we’ve missed in our lives is the time that we used to spend visiting with friends,neighbors and family. We have been in the habit of leaving for work in the morning and then retreating into our homes at the end of the day without much interaction with others except at work. We need to work on the art of hospitality and welcome others into our home. We are missing one of the most important riches in this life if we exclude it and miss the friendships that develop over time in face to face conversations.
We’re back home now in cold Minnesota with 15 inches of new snow in the ground but the inside of our home is warm and welcomes visitors who maypass our way. We’d love to share some of our northern hospitality with those daring enough to venture north.