This weekend...oh, this weekend! I took my girl on an Artists' Retreat. Now, this is not an official thing, it's just something we made up. My friend Allison has some property way out in the sticks in south Florida and she's a creative soul too. So, Emma and I packed up our supplies and headed down to Allison's for a weekend getaway filled with creativity and rest. This was a weekend to remember - adventure waited for us around every corner!
When we arrived, we discovered we were all wearing the Artists' Uniform - black. Perfect. We loaded into Alli's car and drove to a coffeehouse for open mic night. Emma felt very grown-up ordering her coffee drink from the barista and we enjoyed listening to another girl named Emma singing songs and strumming on her guitar.
It was getting late, though, and we hadn't eaten yet, so we slid out the door between performers and went to La Casita, one of Allison's favorite little Mexican restaurants. Isn't it the cutest?
I love all the colors! The food was fantastic too - muy autentico!
On the way home, in the dark, we happened upon a bull in the road. He was unconcerned about how in-the-way he was, and simply continued munching on the tasty weeds that had presumably lured him out of his own territory. Did I mention that she lives away from normal, civilized life? No matter. I really like funny critters.
In the morning, we feasted on blueberry muffins and drove straightaway to Fort Myers beach, seeking some inspiration. We brought watercolors with us and accomplished a bit of indigenous art - we used the ocean water to bring all the paint to life.
Certainly, beautiful colors and eye-catching objects were found everywhere.
Much to our delight, a pair of dolphins glided by, so close to the shore that we were able to enjoy them fully. Once we started getting a little sweaty, though, we packed up and headed back inland.
There was a tourist-trap mini-golf course that looked interesting. Upon discovering the (choke) price (cough) of admission (sputter), we opted for their cheaper form of entertainment - feeding the baby gators for $3! Basically, we loaded dog treats onto fishing poles and dangled them over the edge of the dock while the little chompers snapped away.
We wiled away Saturday afternoon drawing, writing, reading and relaxing, then struck out for another beach to picnic and paint until the sun went down. We drove the length of Sanibel Island and arrived at Captiva, one of the most beautiful beaches I think I've ever seen. We unpacked our dinner and realized with amusement that we were eating a "C" dinner by the sea - cherries, currants, crackers and cookies.
But the rain that had been threatening decided to come on down. We hemmed and hawed and eventually decided to head south, hoping to still catch the setting sun on a less rainy beach.
As we drove south, our hopes were realized. The rain was clearing and Allison knew just where to go. Bonita Springs. As soon as we parked and saw the canopy of sea grapes leading us up over the walkway, it was obvious that we were exactly where we were supposed to be.
Alli and I set up Emma's easel, and she set shells all along its ledge. Then she set to work.
She was so beautiful, lost in thought, soaking in the moment.
I had completely forgotten to bring some canvas for her, so we improvised and she painted on the back of a watercolor paper tablet.
But it was no matter. The moment too important to miss for lack of proper supplies.
Sunday morning found us rested and happy, but already feeling a little sad that the weekend was coming to an end. Once we had breakfasted and dressed, we explored Allison's property a little bit.
Emma and Winnipeg, the Great Dane, were fast friends by this time and they enjoyed a romp in the tall grasses.
And I found lots of green places and trees that seemed to invite me in and ask me to stay.
Of course, I couldn't stay.
But the weekend did build up my emotional reserves. I have found myself easily exhausted and unable to draw from my own deep well because it has rather emptied itself. I suppose I will follow up soon with a bit more information.
When I can.
Because I immediately had to draw on the reserves this weekend provided.
I started getting sick on Saturday night and found, as I drove home, that I began to feel worse. And just as I was feeling worse, my car died - about an hour from home.
It's bad - I don't think the car is coming back to life.
And I borrowed a back-up car this morning to get to work. This was a day that both kids would be coming with me to work. I sweated and sniffled and packed lunches and got dressed, got everyone buckled in and ready to go.
And the back-up car didn't work either.
The good news is that I should have stayed in bed anyway, and now I don't have a choice but to do just that.
I don't really understand what's going on right now, but I know it's not good. I know it hasn't been good for a bit. But I know it won't last either.
I'll check in again soon - when I am feeling a bit better.