Our first Christmas without our daughters wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It wasn’t the best Christmas but it wasn’t awful. We called the girls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Rich and I ate lobsters on Christmas Eve like we always do, taking comfort in traditions. My younger daughter in Denver did too but she was disappointed with the frozen tails, the only lobster she could find in the Rocky Mountains.
I think next year we may fly to Denver to spend a white Christmas together. But so much can happen in a year’s time. It certainly did this year. After spending our last Christmas in the house we lived in for over twenty years, where we moved after our wedding and raised our girls, the world turned upside down. In a good way. Change is good even when it’s sometimes a little scary and challenging.
You don’t have to scatter across the country to be alone at Christmas. It can happen right in the house you’ve lived in for years. Kids grow up, they move away, they marry, they spend the holidays with their in-laws. Elderly parents pass away. Time will inevitably move on and you best savor every day.
So that’s what we did on the day after Christmas 2013. We took a short drive to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray. It is a man-made sanctuary behind the Palm Beach County Water Utilities, a reservoir of treated wastewater and an amazing oasis in the middle of overpopulated South Florida. Admission is free.
When we first arrived, there was no parking available. We bought sandwiches at Tsunami Subs for a picnic. We drove into the Water Utilities parking lot to see if we could park there and walk over to the park. The signs all said Private. Keep Out but we found a spot by the water tanks and ate our sandwiches anyway. Cameras were scattered around the parking lot. We laughed about the security guys watching us eating lunch in our car, wondering why we were picnicking in such a strange spot.
When we finished lunch, Rich wanted to leave. I insisted we try another spin through the parking lot. We were both glad we did.
The first spot we came upon along the 3/4 mile long boardwalk was a nesting area for blue herons. Sentinels guarded the females sitting on their nests.
Various bird songs filled the air.
The boardwalk meandered through a man-made habitat that is one of the best examples I have ever seen of urban ecology in action.
Ospreys, herons, egrets, anhingas, sandpipers, you name it, they all live here along with alligators, turtles, and frogs. 140 species of birds have been recorded here. Many people had binoculars and large cameras with zoom lenses. There were no alligator sightings that day.
This guy was a real show off. He just flew right in and started posing for the camera.