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Thank goodness for the little things

Ocala National Forest will have to wait for another time. Last week I mentioned I hoped hubby and I would venture out of The Villages and into the woods. I found a trail about an hour away that peaked my interest, part of the Florida Trail. My very first Appalachian Trail hiking buddy, Andrew, hiked the FT so I wanted to go check part of it out. After one review on the app All Trails, I decided, "NOPE!!!"

The review written only a few days before my reading it, simply stated to watch out for ticks. The hiker had ticks in each stage of life on his clothing. We are not geared up for that kind of hiking. Neither one of us have long pants and I don't even have hiking shoes, just a pair of Keen sandals. No Permethrin, No long pants, no hiking poles, no shoes equals no hiking. Oh shucks!!!! I so wanted to get out into the woods.

This week we stuck to the walking, biking, and golf cart trails for over 130 miles. Our rides took us through The Villages on pavement, far from what my heart really desires, but it is still so beautiful here. Even when the sun isn't shining it is warm. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the snow and cold. There is nothing like the fresh air on a cold crispy Maine winter day in the woods or on the lake. But those long northern grey days and shortened daylight hours cloud my mental status. I am going to miss our visits here with Mom and Dad once their house sells and we all go back to Maine.

When I hiked the AT, both times I focused on the little things. It was the only way I could keep from going stir crazy. Day in and day out of doing the same thing could have been boring. It is kind of like real life in a sense. We all have gotten on that hamster wheel, spinning and spinning. We do the same thing, get up to go to work, go to school, take care of the kids, then come home, eat, go to bed, only to get up and do it all over again. I remember those days all too well. But once out on the trail, I learned it was the little things that excited me.

A little flower growing where it seemed impossible, rock formations sticking out of the ground, fuzzy caterpillars covering a tree, a centipede crossing the path, all things almost invisible when taking in the whole picture. Stopping and enjoying those little moments gave a deeper meaning to the monotonous miles of hiking. After my first AT hike I carried this over to my "real" life. Instead of letting the daily drag of redundancy steal my joy, I took light in the little things.

Since we could not go to the forest, I remembered my AT lesson and brought the forest to me. The Villages may be a huge purposely built community/city, but there is plenty of nature also. So, that is what I focused on. The trails we ride follow green rolling hills of golf courses, swampy ponds, gigantic oaks, and every type of palm tree you can imagine and even some you didn't know existed. Those are some of the bigger things that caught our eyes.

It was the little armadillos, snappy alligators, and tall and lanky sandhill cranes that made us stop pedaling and take a second look. Somewhere I heard sayings like, The devil is in the details and "Don't sweat the small stuff." I sometimes understand where that thought process lies, especially when I am planning an event and I get upset when some little thing doesn't happen the way I want it. But, mighty things do come in small packages and I see Glory all the time in the little things. The fire ant hill I stepped in I could have done without-those little buggers, but I am so glad for the little things.

Switching gears a bit. Mom and Dad bought a winter residence here in The Villages 10 years ago. The first year we decided to come visit over Christmas I couldn't even fathom a Christmas without snow. It did not take me long to forget about Frosty The Snowman as we putted around in the golf cart looking at Christmas lights. Every year we come down this time of year, that still remains one of our favorite evening activities. The displays seem to get bigger and better every year. Last night's cruise was just as spectacular.

The first two photos below are our house. The third photo is our neighbors. The rest are of others in Duval village.

Happy Hiking,


Health Update:

I seem to be back on track. I am exercising every day, eating healthy foods, and have lost 5 pounds since being here. I started weighing myself every day, which is way to stressful and discouraging, so I will cut back to once a week. And watching what I eat, I must also pay attention to the little things, because just like packing for a long distance hike, all the little things add up to unwanted weight.


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