Not known to be an early riser, I made a point to change that practice Sunday morning. The weather was expected to be warm and clear, so I loaded my kayak onto my car and headed down to Lovers Key State Park, launching at the boat ramp on the bay side of the park. Even at 8:00 in the morning, the parking lot was overflowing with various vehicles with vacant trailers. My little Honda fit nicely tucked under the shade of a tree, where larger vehicles could not.
I headed south from the launch, along Long Key and cut through New Pass. Turning north to enter the inner waterways of the Park, I passed Doggie Beach, a popular spot for the area’s canines and their owners. This unique coastal area was established a few years ago by the county commission as a place where dogs can go to the beach and not need to be leashed. Boy do they have a ball! As I paddled along, a beautiful golden retriever began swimming out to meet me. While my kayak is a tandem, I think he was just being a retriever and swimming to retrieve whatever was in the water.
Once passed doggie beach, and into the “belly” of the park, I felt as if I had entered a whole new world. Clear aqua blue water hovered over grass beds alive with marine life. Red and black mangroves ascended into the cerulean skies. A flock of sandpipers huddled on a shoal, as if waiting for the collective consciousness to dictate their next move. A pair of anhingas stood as sentinels on a stump protruding from the waters. Salt spray filled the air and the only sound I heard was the chirp-chirp-chirping of the osprey. I had entered the kingdom of the osprey, the fish hawk. Enormous, ornately crafted nests held juveniles as the adults perched on neighboring limbs guarding and hunting and speaking to others that perched, guarded and hunted. I rested my paddle and was mesmerized by their magnificence. Then I recalled something I had been told in an earlier meditation: when you hear the osprey, you will know. I repeated that sentence to myself at this time, and pondered its meaning. I had absent-mindedly been thinking about the annoying habits of others, and the chirp of the osprey reminded me to look for the good: look for the good, and I will see the good – in people as well as nature. The chirp reminded me to appreciate, not supplicate. I reminded myself to be Joyful.
I finished my journey through the park taking in all its splendor. I felt alive, strong, healthy and ever so joyful. The moment stays etched in my mind: sitting in the midst of blue surrounded by lush green mangroves knowing the truth of the osprey.