Wheedon Island pier and kayak inlet. A vortex of cyclist, hiking, walking, kayaking, paddle boarding and nature.

A centrifugal force of gratitude builds a gracious planet.

Kathy LaFollett

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“Would you like me to take your picture together?” A voice from behind as I square up to take Cali’s photo with our bikes.

A Sunday ride around Wheedon Island. The humidity is Floridian thick. The water warmer than normal, but clear, tinted greens with sandy browns. Calm. People fishing on the wooden pier we’re posing at the front. Their cast and bait show they aren’t serious about catching fish. Bright sun. Salty bay air. Kayakers below letting into the inter-coastal ways that feature thick low hanging mangroves for miles. The tide is up. And the gentleman offering to get my husband and I in the same shot is kind.

“Oh sure! Thank you.” I glance at Cali. It’s his phone.

“Thanks, man. That would be great.” I hand an obvious kayaker the phone for our photo.

“Great day. Now smile. Look like your having fun, because you are!” Such a positive guy.

We smile. He takes a few photos to make sure there’s one good one. “There you go!” He hands the phone to Cali.

“Thank you. We appreciate that!”

“I’m a viking! It’s what we do. We’re letting in our viking ships.” He points down to the lower pier qued with kayakers balancing single and double kayaks of primary colors. His wife smiles and waves. She’s holding two blue kayaks steady as they bob the water’s surface.

I grin. “Be safe on the water. Have a great day, Mr. Viking!” A Viking laughs and removes his hat.

“Gray hair hides my true golden Viking locks!” He grins, I laugh.

“Vikings are the best at camouflage. Everybody knows that.” We all laugh, and head to our chosen paths for a bright, hot, humid Florida day.

After thirty one miles we’re back home. There’s a dozen ibis, two mallards, three Muscovy duck, and a tree full of crow filling the front yard with expectation. My lack of performance in the backyard forced them to go to the front yard. Pee Wee, Muscovy hen, gives me the “What were you thinking?” look.

I was thinking how grateful I am. Grateful for salty air, wild things, nature thick and alive, warm winds through green trees, gull complaining, pelican silent in flight, shore birds, turtles, sheeps head…

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