April 25, 2010-First Ride in the Rain

Kate Murr

6:14 am: Chihuahua six inches from my head barks in yappy series of five.

6:18 am: Benevolent woman calls dog away from tent.

6:34 am: Two crows caw six inches from my head in throaty series of five.

6:45 am: Brady wakes up, all smiles, ready for cuddles.

Shalanda said we should knock on her door in the morning to come in and use the bathroom. We did. And for a long time, she didn’t answer, but once Brady found a long metal pole and started playing “shooting gun” and “my arrow it” outside Shalanda’s open windows, she welcomed us in. She made us breakfast. She showed us photographs of her family. As Brady crawled inside her hutch to hide his eyes for a game of hide-and-seek, she told me about her grandmother and her mother; about how her mother died first, then after making a huge Forth of July family diner, her grandmother died in her arms at the fire rescue station. She recalled with tears eating the food her grandmother had prepared as the family gathered to mourn two days later. That’s the story of Nana’s Soul Food, and why the new High Springs restaurant bears her name.

After bidding Shalanda and Terrance fond farewells, we pedaled over to the Winn Dixie to buy supplies for Brady’s birthday the next day. He kept telling me he wanted a shooting gun for his birthday, which I ignored; but he also said he wanted a Spider Man cake. Naturally, I went to the baking isle and gathered all the supplies I thought a Spider Man cake would require. As Stuart entertained the kids isles over, I finally started to come to my senses: BUY A FREAKING CAKE, my senses said. So I did. I bought a big cookie cake and an oversized Spider Man cupcake. Friends who know me know this was a difficult thing for me to do. Le sigh.

As we were leaving Winn Dixie, the clouds didn’t part, and a voice from heaven didn’t boom a command that we should go to church. Rather, the clouds clumped, thunder rumbled, and it started to rain. Straight out of the parking lot was a church with a big covered walk way. We went to church.

We decided, after the service, to ask if we could hole up to see if the storm might blow over. Graciously, the High Springs Baptists invited us to a picnic lunch that had been previously slated for the park. The kids ran around in the gymnasium, making friends, and I contributed Brady’s cookie cake to the long table of potluck cold cut sandwiches, chips, and deserts. Amy was having a birthday too, so everyone sang to the birthday kids, and Jane and Brady blew out candles. I was thankful Brady had other children to celebrate with.

Lunch and chatting and a hunt for Jane’s missing pink teddy bear allowed us to meet some fantastic people. After a kind woman gave Jane some money to buy a new teddy, young Blake and Emily ended up finding the lost bear in the boy’s bathroom (go figure). With an emotionally overwhelmed little girl, and a sugar maniac birthday boy we set out toward our campsite at the Ichetucknee Springs campground.

Of course it poured on us. Poured. And we made a wrong turn and had to head back into the deluge. Eventually, we made it to camp and it stopped raining. We showered and hung wet things, and I made Brady a special mac-and-cheese dinner with noodles from Jorelle’s pantry and Publix American cheese singles. We enjoyed meeting Stephanie and Doug, and talked with them as the kids slept in the dark woods among the first fireflies of the season, which Jane described as “the sparkles before your fairy godmother comes”.

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