I'm laying in bed with wet hair from a late night shower and John is sound asleep next to me. I couldn't have been in there for more than 10 minutes but it was enough time for him to fall right to sleep. He had an early morning on the ranch today working cattle with Pops. When he came home about lunch time he had cow blood on his hands and jeans, a few true marks of true hard ranch work.
Every time we go outside I am met with the smell of orange blossoms blowing through the breeze. I'm so in love with it here, I could just sit and stare at the grove for hours. The kids and Grammy and I had a little snack picnic under the shade of a Hamlin orange tree a couple of days ago. We were accompanied by some gnats and Avett wanted to climb as high as he could in that tree.
Today around lunch time the children were getting restless so I asked john to ride them around on the gator while I warmed up lunch. Grammy is the best at making bulk so we've always got plenty of leftovers on hand at a moments notice. I was so grateful for the uninterrupted moment to fix lunch while I heard the hum of the gator in the distance and the sound of little voices becoming clearer as they zoomed closer back to the house.
Today Grammy and the kids and I took a spontaneous tour of the old Jacaranda Hotel, built in 1926. Grammy asked if we could see a room and the receptionist gave us two keys to go and explore as we pleased. It was such a charming hotel. When we came back down I asked the man in the lobby playing the piano if I could sing with him. I asked for "How Great Thou Art" and he obliged. Avett started to cry for me so I finished it with him on my hip. The acoustics were so beautiful I could have sung there all day and well in to the night. I imagined singing old jazz tunes and gospel favorites with a classical twist.
Afterwards we went over to Verona lake and had a disastrous meltdown with both children ending up in the lake up to their chests and me running in after them up to my thighs. Our exit was dramatic, sandy, and wet. Sometimes you win and sometimes you loose.
We end every night here gathered around the dining room table playing cards. Different versions of Pitch and To Hell and Back. I'll never forget the first time John tried to teach me Pitch. It was the most intimidating and complicated sounding game I'd ever heard of and I never thought I'd catch on. But then just last night I whooped Pops and John fair and square. It was a proud moment for me mastering the family favorite, a true badge of honor in deed.
I love Pops' theatrics as we play and how almost every decision as to what card to throw down is as if he is weighing some of the biggest decisions in life. He says something to the effect of, "Well that is just enough to get a man in trouble." As he repeated rubs his forehead.
Tonight as he got out a box of whoppers and offered them to all of us he generously said, "Anybody want some of this manna from heaven?" I keep a running list of all of the best things he says, I just love him.
This ranch is starting to carve deep memories for our children. Feeding horses hay, walking around the ranch, picking oranges, riding on four wheelers, visits to grannies, pulling Spanish moss from the trees, Lilly the Lizard on the screened in porch, dancing in the light of the headlights to Papa's music while the adults finish up a night time game of corn hole in the back yard, night time family prayers all kneeling in the living room, Avett's first movie at the theater in Sebring in the recliners, picnics under orange trees and after church, petting Gus and watching him run all over the place and so much more. Evaleigh had her first experience with fireweed a few days ago. She fell back on the ground after Gus knocked her down and her palm landed right on it. It started to sting and she cried as John whisked her over to the barn to rinse it off with some alcohol. An experience not too soon forgotten.
I love that this place is a part of my children's heritage. It makes me feel like we are a part of something special. And we are. Something so rooted and deep and rich with a long line of their ancestors working and making something incredible of this beautiful land.
I am so happy to come here over and over for years to come.