My dad always said to me, "Once you get the sand in your toes, you'll never get it out." He was referring to living in Florida and never getting Florida out of my system.
I grew up in Florida and moved away at the age of 28. I didn't go far and ended up in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1996. East Tennessee is home now, but Florida resonates something deeper in me that East Tennessee won't ever fill despite it's peace and beauty.
As my feet sink into the warm white sand and I wiggle the sand in between my toes, I feel home. Dad talked about the sand in my toes, but what stirs my blood is the scent of the air. The swamp mixed with the salt air triggers a sense of timelessness. In the right environment, I , mentally, travel to older times before the Spanish arrived here. When out on the river in the kayak paddling through the transitional forests or out in the saw grass flats, I sense the native spirits and imagine that the air smells the same now as it did then. I connect with an ancient Florida as I watch the pelicans skim the water. A deep peace settles over me, and I feel an ache to be here forever.
And Dad is right in a way. The sand in my toes feels home, but the smell af the air is truly home.