Today, walking through dunes along the Gulf of Mexico, the strains of a children’s song flitted through my head:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
Seeing those words in print makes me cringe a little. Apparently pounding Manifest Destiny into the heads of Girl Scouts was the thing to do back in the 70s. (Perhaps it still is.)
But as I wandered through Big Lagoon State Park this morning, I wasn’t thinking about colonialism or the evils of suburban sprawl or the military industrial complex that drives the economy of so many of the cities I’ve visited lately. Instead I reflected on my own journeys this year, carving out a bit of sightseeing on the front and back end of business trips. In fact, just a few months ago I had my first glimpse of a redwood forest. The gulf stream waters were especially breathtaking today.
It’s not an ideal way to travel, but I’ll take imperfect travel over no travel any day. I like breathing new air, inspecting new flora and fauna, and listening to the music of unfamiliar accents while I drink my coffee in a local breakfast joint. It heals me and breaks me open at the same time. It reminds me that we are a world full of people who for all our differences are mostly struggling with similar challenges of living and loving and letting go. And even as I despair that the entire American landscape will soon be one giant strip mall, I’ll find a pocket like this.
It was cold by Florida standards. I had the place nearly to myself. If you get to Panhandle and are in the mood for a ramble, by all means check it out.
Just keep an eye out for the alligator.
All pictures taken by me, with an iPhone. No filters.