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Before all the mess that happened in December, I hadn’t been back to the town where I grew up since my wedding shower, almost seven years ago. I figured since we were there, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to schedule in a few “fun” activities to give us a break from all the stress and sadness. One of the places at the top of the “to do” list was Bok Tower Gardens. Bok Tower has been around since 1929, a generous gift to the American people from immigrant Edward W. Bok as a token of appreciation for all of the wonderful opportunities he’d found in our country.
The original tower and surrounding gardens have been painstakingly maintained, but over the years the grounds have expanded to include a visitor center, additional gardens, a children’s area and now a gorgeous outdoor kitchen with nearby edible garden. I grew up running around the trails and feeding the lazy koi that live in the tower’s moat. We’ve been to Easter sunrise service, listened to orchestral concerts under the stars, and spent hours stretched out on a picnic blanket under their towering trees. This most recent trip, it was monarch season and we were lucky enough to see all stages of butterfly development, although the poor milkweed plants were considerably worse for the wear after playing host to hoards of voracious caterpillars.
When I was much younger, I was convinced that these giant lily pads were in fact, fairy stages. That the fairies waited until the gardens closed, and then hosted elaborate affairs atop these massive (easily 2-3 feet across) green boats. Fireflies would weave about over head, and the fairies who were tired of dancing could recline in the flowers and still enjoy the festivities. As the sun began to rise, they’d all return to their homes all over the garden and sleep soundly for the day while we humans explored their garden.
When I graduated high school, I was allowed to climb to the top of the tower and run my fingers across the carillon’s “keyboard”. The tower is not open to the public, and other than being a graduating senior, the only other way to see the inside it to purchase one of their top tier memberships. It’s a lot of stairs, but an amazing opportunity that many a local would turn green with jealousy over.
Even though we’ve been before, it was nice to share this place with Andy again. No matter now much is added and no matter how far the grounds expand, this place feels like home, and every time I visit I feel the desire to curl up on the grass and just listen to the breeze ruffling the leafy canopy overhead.
Someday I will own a fountain just like this one. Frogs, painted tiles, and all 🙂
It was a wonderful distraction, and one that I am hoping to indulge in again the next time we have to head down south for another round of cleanup.
Category: About Me
Bad News: My camera did not want to cooperate and I didn’t get any decent pictures of the wedding shower this weekend.
Good News: My future Mother-in-law’s camera worked fine, so eventually I will have in my possession wedding shower photos.
And I do mean eventually, I think there were a couple hundred photos taken so it might take her some time to upload them all and get them sent over to us. We did have a great time though. It pretty much hit the trifecta of awesome: Good food, good people & presents!
These are some of the gifts we received, and there were many others that weren’t on our registry (that should have been). Our new kitchen will be well stocked. Andy was almost as excited as I was about our gifts, but instead of thinking “Oh wow, I can bake so many cakes in these!” it was “Oh wow, Julie can bake me so many cakes in these!” Just kidding, well….sort of. Andy would wake up every morning and bake me a cake if it would make me happy, but the kitchen is mostly my domain and I actually enjoy cooking and baking for the man I love. Disgustingly cutesy right? Trust me, I am well aware, three years ago I would have slapped myself in the face.
It was so great to be home for a couple of days, a little sad because it doesn’t seem like I quite fit there anymore, but still wonderful to be with the people and friends I grew up with. Everyone got to meet Andy and appropriately welcomed him to the Lake Wales family while sneaking in references to “gun collections” all in the same breath. He was a trooper of course, and got to hear all sorts of stories about my childhood, you know, the ones that are cute and absolutely mortifying all at the same time. At least his mother was there to keep things pretty even.