#HappyValentinesDay

Today marks 33 years since Mark and I got married, on a little bridge that arched over the Wekiva River. We’d spent four years hiking, camping, and canoeing on that river and others in central Florida, so to us, it was the perfect place to share our marriage vows. 

I can still see the crystal clear, turquoise water from the springs flowing under the bridge, while a red-shouldered hawk made lazy circles across a blue silk sky above us. A mossy, green-backed turtle paddled by below, and the day couldn’t have been more perfect for an outdoor celebration. And guess what? We’re still chugging along after all these years, not quite as spry or flexible as we once were, but enjoying the ride, regardless.

Yes, we still love the river and woods, though we haven’t hiked  into the wilderness to camp lately. These days, we cruise the St. Johns River from the shaded comfort of an eco tour boat, instead of a canoe, but it’s just as beautiful as ever, and a lot easier on our backs. 

Mark stayed home from work today so we can spend the afternoon browsing antique stores–or whatever else strikes our fancy.  Yeah, we’re “old fogies” now, as my grandmother would have said, but we’re doing just fine overall, loving life and each other as much as ever. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Excerpt from CH 5 of Swamp Ghosts

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Kind of quiet tonight, so here’s a longish one from Swamp Ghosts. (Thought I’d show you that I do know how to write scenes that aren’t totally weird and disturbing.) Gunnar Wolfe is a wildlife photographer who has hired Maggie Devlin to guide him into some pretty inaccessible backwater areas, in search of rare birds and animals. He’s never set foot in a canoe before, and denies he’s afraid of boats, but he admits he does not want to end up in that black, black water. This is his first canoe lesson with Maggie, who was raised on the river, and knows it like the back of her hand. So far, she’s less than impressed with Gunn, immense size and Norwegian good looks notwithstanding.

*****

SUNDAY MORNING arrived looking like a picture out of a travel brochure. A buttery yellow sun beamed down from a cloudless swath of blue sky, and the trees along the river were that jewel-like shade of green you only see in early summer. I watched Gunn as he surveyed the boat launch. “You sure you don’t want to do a dry run on land first?”

“Maggie, I’d feel silly standing over there under a tree, getting in and out of the canoe, instead of just launching it here, like anyone else. I’m sure I can do this.”

“Okay, Thor. Your funeral,” I muttered.

Gunn’s eyes widened. “Excuse me? Thor? Did you just call me Thor?”

I looked up from the cooler I was arranging in the stern of the canoe in order to offset his weight in the front. “Oh, please don’t tell me I’m the only one to ever call you that.”

He was put out. More so than I expected, though to be honest, I had been trying to get a rise out of him. His perpetual good humor was getting on my nerves this early in the morning.

“Actually, you are.” Now he had a definite scowl on his face.

“You’re kidding, right? I mean, look at you.”

He was growing redder, and his smile was ancient history, now. Hmmm. This was a different, and unexpected, side to Gunnar Wolfe.

“I beg your pardon? Look at me? What are you talking about?”

“Gunn, for Pete’s sake. You look just like the guy. You know? The guy from the Avenger movies?” Continue reading