“Sometimes I think I’ve figured out some order in the universe, but then I find myself in Florida, swamped by incongruity and paradox, and I have to start all over again.” ( Susan Orlean)
After resolving a brief medical scare in the family, we fortunately left on time on March 9 for our 5th American road trip. Crossing Alligator Alley at a relatively safe 75 mph, the majority of cars/ SUVs whizzed past us at dangerously high speeds. Amidst this quiet refuge of natural beauty in the Florida Everglades, such a human car chase spectacle seemed badly out of place. I could only imagine then the presence of aquatic birds hovering contentedly in the surrounding bush as a not so subtle hint to humans that slowing down your life would be a most attractive option.
Arriving on the west coast south of Bradenton in late morning, I spotted the conspicuous stadium lights of LECOM Park, longtime Spring Training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. A closer look would soon reveal a beautifully renovated stadium encircled by “rundown” blight in the surrounding neighborhood. On this hot and “sticky” day, we now loaded up on sun tan lotion and headed for the bleachers to watch today’s game. As the game progressed in slow baseball fashion, several thoughts crossed my mind.
1) Why did so many parents torture their little children by dragging them to this game when they had little capacity to sit and focus?
(2) Removing one’s hat for the National Anthem was obligatory for baseball fans and players but why not for surrounding camera men?
(3) If they are trying to speed up the game by instituting timers between pitches and innings then why were these new rules not enforced today?
(4) Baseball fans love to see the star heroes of the game. Why then did neither club today seem to care in their lineup selections to field their marquee players of popular interest?
Heading to the Orlando vicinity now with GPS guidance, we would take our time In late afternoon to avoid tourist driven Interstate 4 to capture a more authentic look at small town living in Central Florida. The next morning, a leisurely walk through Mount Dora would provide a relaxing view of a town that takes historic preservation values quite seriously. Making time for a picnic lunch at nearby Lake Dora, I resolved to resist judging that my glitzy material indulgence in South Florida was any better than the timeless simplicity of uncrowded streets, quaint shops, and friendly conversation that I observed in this picturesque “ Old Florida” town.