Outside my window, the maple trees are putting on a show of brilliant colors. Their last hurrah. Winter comes close on the heels of Autumn here.
There are things about each season I love. And things I don’t like so much–no need to talk about those. I love the cooler temperatures of Autumn. The crisp air of a Fall morning is energizing. The smell of the burnishing leaves, their crunch beneath my feet, all add to the season’s ambiance.
As the trees shed their leafy cover, gaps open up, and the bright sunlight spills through the windows, lighting up our rooms. Thus, revealing summer’s deposits of dust and cobwebs. Oops! Fall cleaning scheduled.
Autumn is especially poignant for me this year, as a dear friend prepares to make her final journey. I remember the Spring of her life, when as a bubbly cheerleader, she spread joy and sunlight wherever she went.
I was a few years older, but we lived on the same street and attended the same high school. Later, we were both members of the same church youth group, and youth choir. At my wedding, she told me I was beautiful, and we (my husband and I) were like movie stars. It was all very romantic. She couldn’t wait for her day to come.
It did, several years later, when she married her best friend, another of our youth group and youth choir members. Still bubbly and outgoing, she had added a college degree and looked forward to a career in teaching. Soon she had a home classroom filled with three beautiful daughters. Blessed daughters, to have such a mother, who gave herself to their raising and training.
As she prepares to leave this life, her legacy of love and compassion lights our memories and warms our hearts. We’ll miss her, oh my, yes. But her light will never go out. As Fall’s glory fades into Winter’s chill, hope survives. Spring will come!
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. –2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV
Recently, we spent a few days in Perdido Key, Florida, for some much-needed R&R. Four days and five nights, to be more precise. Some of the most visually perfect days I’ve ever experienced on the Gulf. And our first stay in Perdido Key.
We knew we were taking a chance, by going in October. The week before we arrived, it was rainy and overcast and cold. I watched the weather channel with bated breath. Would the weather warm up? Would Joaquin take a westerly turn?
Our first day there, it was sunny, but the wind held a definite chill. The first thing I noticed was, the sand didn’t burn our feet. A definite perk. However, the sun was quite powerful. We had taken the necessary precautions, so didn’t suffer any burns to spoil our fun.
Sights! Our condo was well positioned to view the sun’s path. Out on our balcony, I witnessed the sun rising out of the water. In the evening, we watched from the beach as it set. Breathtaking.
Gorgeous, translucent water with no apparent jellyfish. I liked that, though I barely stepped in. Calm seas that sparkled in the afternoon sun. I could sit and listen to the surf for hours. I did!
Sounds — the Blue Angels. For me, this was not a deterrent. I enjoy watching them fly. They were usually high overhead, until evening when they returned to base. We just paused our conversation until they’d passed over, slowly. I heard the roar for several minutes after they’d gone.
I’d expected smaller crowds, but the building where we stayed is evidently a popular one–and not only that–it was fall break in some area schools. And the shrimp festival was on in Gulf Shores, just down the road. But honestly, we still enjoyed ourselves. No, we didn’t attend the festival. Not really into crowds, or shrimp. But we did visit a few area restaurants.
The Shrimp Basket was having a problem in the kitchen on our first night in town. I don’t think they expected such a crowd. The wait-staff was helping in the kitchen, even washing dishes. It took over an hour to get our food. But they made it right by only charging us half price. Our waitress had worked so hard, we tipped her the full amount. We didn’t return there.
Typically, we like to have breakfast in our residence and sometimes lunch also. Then we go out to dinner. But we discovered a little jewel of a breakfast place called Triggers. They’re on Gulf Beach Highway, toward Pensacola. The parking lot held a lot of pickups with local Florida plates, so it seemed like a winner. It was. The eggs tasted fresh, were perfectly prepared (I’m picky!) and they can do grits and biscuits. Love. We made sure to swing by there on our way out of town.
On the second day, we had lunch at Tacky Jack’s. I think they’re actually located in Orange Beach, on the bay or the Intracoastal. The views were amazing and it was a fun place, very colorful. My husband got out of the car and a woman dashed over, getting into his face. “You’re from Kentucky!” she said, “I suppose you’re a Wildcat fan!” He was a little alarmed, since she was a complete stranger and had literally entered his personal space. But he recovered quickly and let her know he does bleed blue. She was a Louisville fan, married to a Wildcat fan. Yes, it happens.
The food at Tacky Jacks…was just okay. Not great. Maybe we’re picky, since we come from a city known for it’s restaurants. I judge seafood by the hush puppies. These were small and cooked just right, but not so much on flavor.
I’m a hush-puppy fan, and here again, I’m picky. The perfect hush-puppy should be small, so it cooks all the way through without drying out. If it’s too big, the center will be doughy or the thing will be a belly-bomb, dry and tasteless. I like them with onions and…flavor. I don’t really like them sweet.
We enjoyed the Perdido Key Oyster Bar, mainly because of the view of the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, lined with high-end houses, and the Gulf State Park across the water. Lovely. The food was pretty good. Jellyfish (a restaurant, not the animal) was a fun place. It’s a sports bar. Hubby tried the sushi, but found it sub-par (in his opinion). I took a chance on the Jack Chicken Salad: bourbon-glazed chicken over greens with fried green tomatoes, candied pecans, blue cheese, bacon croutons, tomato bacon jam, and peach bourbon vinaigrette. So many wonderful flavors. It was delicious.
We saved one area restaurant until last. The guy at the deli counter in the local Publix (grocery) told us about a little shack of a place tucked up under the Theo Baars Bridge, called Fisherman’s Corner. Funky little place looks unassuming, but it was a winner. Not your run-of-the-mill seafood diner. They know how to do it right and I loved the New Orleans atmosphere and Creole flavors. I’m giving it four stars. Yum.
If you’re looking for a new place to go on your next Florida vacation, you might try Perdido Key. It is a very beautiful stretch of beach. And there’s lots to do in the area. It’s well-positioned between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on one side, and Pensacola’s only about thirty minutes to the east. And if you’ve a golfer in the family, there’s an Arnold Palmer designed course in Perdido Key. I’ve heard it’s “not-to-be-missed.”
As the sun set on our final evening on the Key, I snapped a few pics and breathed in the warm, tropical air. In a few hours, I’d be back in the nation’s midsection, which was already experiencing low temps and bracing for their first official frost. The only bad thing about going to the beach this time of year? You can’t show off your tan when you get home. Every inch of skin is covered, trying to stay warm. 🙂
It’s part of being a writer. Getting out, going places, meeting the people who read, or will read our books and hopefully, become readers of our future works.
After the release of Annabelle’s Ruth, I contacted the library in the town of Trenton, Tennessee (the setting of the story) and offered them a free book.
The librarian answered me right away: Yes, please!
So I sent her one. She read it, and loved it. When I visited Trenton a few months later, I stopped by the library to meet her.
Connie Bates is the librarian in Trenton, Tennessee. She told me about a group of ladies who meet next door to the library at the Trenton First United Methodist Church to discuss books and asked if I could return and speak at one of their meetings. Of course, I was happy to.
I had no idea what to expect as I entered the beautiful, historic building that houses the church (see embedded photo below). There were nine ladies in attendance on this day. I was treated to true Southern hospitality, made to feel welcome, and even sold some books. A few of them had already read the library’s copy of Annabelle’s Ruth. Connie told me there’s a waiting list to read it. That made me happy. 🙂
Connie Bates took time away from the library’s annual book sale to attend the meeting. I am so thankful to her for the time and energy involved in getting me to the meeting and publicizing the event.
These ladies made comments that will strengthen the next book in the Kinsman Redeemer series, Sutter’s Landing.
I so enjoyed meeting all of them! They asked lots of questions and I ended with one for them. I asked how they ran their meetings. Do you choose a book to read together? They laughed and one of them admitted, “No, we read lots of books then share which ones we liked, so the others will know what’s good to read.”
That’s a different sort of book club, then. I had to laugh. It reminded me of my good friend Cherry, who attends a monthly bunco meeting. The same group of women have been getting together for years to play bunco. But it’s not about the game, she told me. It’s a time to get together, visit, and talk about our lives.
I suspect this particular book club provides the same service. These ladies have shared a lot of moments over the years, and I am especially grateful they shared these moments with me. I really hope they enjoy reading my book, and invite me back when the next one is published.
Once again, I said goodbye to Trenton, with this wonderful sight in the rear-view mirror. I will return to this lovely town. And so will the characters from Annabelle’s Ruth…