As I mentioned, every exploration of flora and fauna on Sanibel is a beautiful confusion of the senses. I am happily overwhelmed in my early days of learning about what grows and lives here. I am first ‘wife’ and ‘mom’ and this part of my life keeps me very busy. But every day (okay almost every day) I leave my ‘real’ life behind for an adventure. I need only step into the sunshine and look about to find a tiny ambassador for the natural world. A brown anole or tree frog is inevitably perched on a bromeliad or hanging on the wall of the house, head cocked, eye upturned, gaze steady. This ambassador usually bids a quick adieu, skittering off to more important matters, and I am free to explore.
Leaving home for the beach I am barefoot, having left my winter boots a thousand miles from here. I walk down the middle of our street because here, I can. For the first few steps I am acutely aware of the absence of familiar noise. Little, if any, traffic. Rarely do I hear the distant mechanical rumblings I associate with all my days of city living. There is just the hush of the wind, and the warmth of sun on my skin.
I walk in silence for only a few moments when overhead the screech of an Osprey awakens me from my delusion of quiet. Suddenly, it seems each of my senses is competing to take in something from this ‘other’ world I have entered. Feet leave pavement, and toes sink into almost-but-not-quite too hot sand. Everywhere my eye lands there are tiny explosions of color and texture. Flowers wave brilliant red and yellow petals in the wind, motioning me towards calm, aqua water.
Ocean breeze blows. Sea Oats rustle. The smell of the sea signifies my arrival at water’s edge. The rolling body of a dolphin breaks the surface of water then disappears, leaving my eye searching for another graceful pass. A squadron of pelicans slide silently across the water in a precise single file, then rise high into an unbroken expanse of blue sky. They target a school of fish, and fall, one splashing after the other into the sea, where they fill their pouches with wiggling, silvery mullet. My ears are full of the sounds of nature. Shells tumble in the surf, each begging me to look and touch. Waves break around me, endless in their song. I step into the ocean, splash cold clear water on my face. I taste salt, feel the sun upon my shoulders and sand between my toes. I close my eyes and know that I am home.