Florida snowfall

snowy-owl-quoteIt is the accumulated knowledge of life that has been gained through experience. Experiences that we can choose to embrace or ignore. Embrace them all and there you will find infinite wisdom.

Pulling the mug full of freshly brewed coffee to my lips, a sense of peace and serenity are carried on the scents of pumpkin spice drifting through the kitchen on this Sunday morning. As I stand over the stove keeping a watchful eye on the sizzling skillet filled with sausage, onions, and peppers, I reach for the eggs whisked in the bowl beside me. Pouring the egg mixture into the pan, I am immersed in the cooking experience. It allows me to quiet the mind and simply create.

As the eggs begin to absorb the heat and set amongst the meat and vegetables, a thunderous shout originates from my wife across the room. Filled with a touch of surprise and a bundle of excitement, just two words are needed to reveal the mystery. Snowy owl. And in that instant, our family plans for the day had been scrambled quicker than the eggs in my skillet.

The flurry of activity that ensued was chaotic, yet deliberate and purposeful. Breakfast inhaled? Check. Pets accounted for? Check. Jackets, binoculars, spotting scope? Check, check, and check. Nothing else was needed but the resolve to reach Little Talbot Island State Park sooner than the three hours estimated by our GPS. Even as a rather neophyte bird enthusiast, I realized that this was an opportunity not to be missed. For only the third time in recorded history, a snowy owl had been spotted in Florida. It’s not every day that you see snow falling from the skies in Florida. And this rendition of snow in the form of a snowy owl is rarer still.

Traveling north on I-95, the number of miles between us and our destination steadily decreased. So did the temperatures and our hopes for catching a glimpse of this stunning creature. As we exited the highway and turned east toward the coast, the cooler onshore breeze was raging war against the warmer inland air. The result of this harsh meteorological battle. Fog. As in the pea soup variety. With trepidation and anxiety, we finally reached the park entrance. With a recurring layer of mist being deposited upon our windshield, the wipers were intermittently active in hopes of sweeping both mist and fog aside for clearer skies to prevail.

path-to-edenPractically running towards journey’s end a half mile away from our parking spot, the boardwalk leading to the shore was beckoning us as an entrance to our own personal version of Eden. With each step, our eyes scrutinized the dense air, searching for the white apparition in the dunes. As we reached the cluster of other individuals gathering in the general vicinity, a final survey of the landscape secured our treasure. There he was. With a squint of one eye, an imaginary line drawn, the binoculars were raised into position and focused to produce an image that will forever be locked in my memory.

snowy-owl-binIn a way that no words can possibly convey, this animal captured something within me and would not let go. Perhaps it was the elegant white color. Maybe it was the majestic posture amidst the sea of fog. Or it could have been the smooth and gliding manner in which his head swiveled to scan the surroundings. Like a scene out of a Harry Potter movie, it felt magical and surreal.

Beginning with a familiar routine of hot coffee and a comfortable breakfast, this day evolved into an adventurous and memorable expedition to a cold and foggy shoreline in north Florida close to three hours away. The wisdom you seek is already within you. Listen carefully and embrace it. Take chances. Live boldly. Experience life. These are the whispers that incessantly tug at my soul. Amidst daily distractions, these thoughts slip precariously far away. But they always return faithfully, as if tethered to me. Not to restrict my movement, but to encourage it. Less think, more do. Sage advice carried on the wings of a silent creature traveling from lands a hemisphere away. Thank you, my snowy friend. Godspeed.

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9 thoughts on “Florida snowfall

  1. Amy January 9, 2014 / 7:40 am

    Loved this! Thank you. I live by a motto……fly by the seat of my pants. I never know what each day brings. I just LIVE it! πŸ™‚

    ….Now see what this Snowy Owl has to say to you. There will always be a “message”. Do you hear it?

    • davecenker January 9, 2014 / 8:07 am

      Thank you for reading and providing your insight Amy. Nature always seems to find a way to speak to me in a profound way when I quiet the mind and am willing to listen. It was somewhat serendipitous that it originated from a creature symbolized by wisdom in this case πŸ˜‰

      • Amy January 9, 2014 / 8:43 am

        What came to my Mind was perhaps, this particular Owl came to you to communicate you now have “Owl” as your totem animal? Just a thought…… If that is the case, that is powerful “Animal Medicine”.

  2. thewritertracy January 9, 2014 / 8:17 am

    Love this post. At first, I loved it because it reminds me of my husband. He loves nature (as do I) but he really loves to watch animals. We’ve been to Yellowstone, Alaska and Africa and I love to witness his excitement when we see something. For me, I am interested for about the first 10 minutes and then I’m ready to move on (I’m getting better with practice!). But I also love the words at the end of this post, “The wisdom you seek is already within you. Listen carefully and embrace it. Take chances. Live boldly. Experience life.” Love the message, and the way you wrote it as well. It really resonated with me.

    • davecenker January 9, 2014 / 8:56 am

      Thank you Tracy for your very kind sentiments πŸ˜‰ There is an unspoken force that resonates from within when I witness any wildlife in its natural habitat. There is always some bond made that helps me to appreciate my place in the world in a fuzzy can’t put your finger on it sort of way. This was certainly one of those times that I was able to verbalize that connection a bit more coherently πŸ˜‰

  3. Marquita Herald January 9, 2014 / 5:18 pm

    Oh what a stunning creature! First of all I have to tell you reading your article suddenly reminded me I hadn’t eaten yet today and now I’m totally starving for breakfast – never mind that it’s almost 1pm here! Anyway, I love your story and how your family is so open to having fun and allowing spontaneity into your lives. πŸ™‚

    • davecenker January 10, 2014 / 7:45 am

      Thank you Marty πŸ˜‰ It’s funny how sometimes the spontaneity is not fully appreciated until you have the opportunity to reflect upon it. It certainly serves to fill the mind with memories that will not soon be forgotten, which I would especially like to do for my son as he grows up. Best wishes for an inspired day (and a tasty breakfast) πŸ˜‰

  4. T. Greenfield January 10, 2014 / 8:47 am

    Love this! Our family is a HUGE nature family and I had to smile when I read this post this morning because I live in the Midwest and Snowy Owls have been spotted in our area recently and I was JUST on the phone with my Mom before reading this that I was going to take a drive and look around today, it is a dream bird of mine to see. I love how you tied nature together with life. Thank you for sharing and how is it you can see my dream owl in Florida! I guess they are smart and got out of the winter mess we have had!

    • davecenker January 10, 2014 / 10:04 am

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and best of luck in locating this magnificent creature. I am pretty sure that it will send a wave of goose bumps (not due to the cold weather) when you get the opportunity to witness one in the wild πŸ˜‰

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