I went to the river a couple of days ago. it was very unexpected, this: a belated birthday present from my family who needed a reason-any reason- to celebrate and get out of the house. And I am always up to celebrate.

(Life is meant to be celebrated: the little triumphs and the big ones, and the joy after the tears, and the beauty around us, the fact that there’s food on the table, and we get to see another day… let’s celebrate, to all of it. Let’s make life one long party.)

The place we decided on is called Hillsborough River State Park. It is only half an hour or so away from Tampa, and it is a gorgeous place. There are plenty of amenities such as a cafe (closed due to the pandemic), and a pool (closed due to… well, I’m not actually sure.) It has camping spots, space for kayaking, and multiple trails. And, despite the well manicured aspect of it (parking lots everywhere! A nicely paved road! clear signage!) it remains largely untouched.

So, we made sandwiches, and brought tea, a family friend brought cake (birthday cake #3) and my uncle strapped his kayak to his car, and we all made it to the river. We laughed, and joked, and I took way too many photos from the front of the kayak while my teenaged cousin did all the work, and ate way too much. I took my shoes off and walked into the river, the water cool against my overheated skin. I released the deep breath I hadn’t realized I had been holding for weeks.

My brain is always on: a running to-do list in my brain, books to read, movies to watch, friends to have coffee with. This, that. Everything. It’s exhausting. I wish I could shut off all of it, disconnecting from the real world as simply as just unplugging a cord. Instead, I have this: family, laughter, the river.

There was a point to this blog post. I guess what I mean to say is this: there is beauty everywhere, if you care to look for it. There is always a reason to party, if you look hard enough. And when the real world gets too hard, reconnect with Nature: she cleanses your soul like no other.

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