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Out on Discovery

We loaded the car with our camping gear and lit out for Suwannee River State Park last week. It was an amazing respite from life in Jacksonville, a chance to get away from the computers and televisions and spend some time in the woods with family. It was Lyla's first camping trip, and she sure seemed to enjoy it. Before we departed we made an entry in the cabin's journal, and we agreed that we would return in one year. The great delight of being a father comes from watching the simple discoveries that the little ones make on a daily basis. We hiked the Lime Sink trails and walked out to Balanced Rock. We tramped over to the Columbus Cemetery and took a walk down the Sandy Hills Trail. We fished in the Suwannee River, a stunning body of water bordered by huge cypress trees and home to all manner of wildlife. The fish were jumping, the birds were wading. We must have dallied twenty minutes over a skink that patiently let Lyla watch its sunning on the side of a pine tree. At night and in the mornings, we sat on the swing and listened to the birds calling back and forth in the tropical canopy. "What's that?" Lyla said. It became the mantra for her trip. I like to think about how things must appear to her. At just two years of age, the sunshine must feel so warm, the pitch from the trees so sticky. How exotic must it seem to her young mind to hear that symphony of birds all around her? How strange must it seem to see sturgeon break the glass of the river's surface before splashing back into their underwater world? She smiled a lot, which made us smile a lot. It's a blessing, to be sure, to share all the opportunities that Florida presents with her... One other neat thing about the trip: I found a copy of Richard Matheson's collection Button, Button for a buck at the Dollar General in Live Oak. Live Oak, Florida, is a real piece of work, by the way. Small-town antebellum southern, it's a pretty place with some really neat architecture. It's also a bit Southern, so I was surprised to find a bin of discount sci-fi and fantasy at the local dollar store. It's a nice collection. I read it on the porch swing with an iced tea while Lyla napped in her camping night-night...

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