There’s No Place Like Home


Collecting pine cones at the ranch.
“There’s no place like home.” Dorothy repeats three times as she clicks her heels together after her adventures along the yellow brick road in Oz. She made extra special friends, the lion, the scarecrow and the tin man. She saw beautiful fields of poppies, met munchkins, traveled to the magnificent Emerald City and even saw a horse of a different color.

Our family just returned from an equally fantastic and delightful odyssey over our Thanksgiving vacation. We stayed at the beautiful Sabal Palm Ranch courtesy of my cousin, where we could hear and see owls, track a cougar, and see all kinds of birds. We ate great meals with family, meals that usually involved much teasing and ribbing, lots of remembering and some tall tale telling. We met new friends and renewed old acquaintances in the grandest tradition of Auld Lang Syne.

We talked trash about Packers and Falcons (and ahem, are eating a little crow this week).

We went to Treasure Island Beach and searched for the pirate booty. Arggh! We walked along the sand bar and rode the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico. We picked up sea shells and dug sand castles.

We saw the manatees in Homasassa Springs and alligators and a hippo and flamingos and pelicans and black bears. And fish, oh the schools of fish in the springs!

We even had our picture taken with a “real-live” mermaid who we met in Weeki Wachee Springs. Then we took a slow boat ride down the Weeki Wachee river and saw more heron, ibis and even a bald eagle perched majestically in a tall pine.

We walked and played with cairns until they (and we) were completely exhausted.

We celebrated Grandpa’s 80th birthday and acted as official envelope opener for Grandpa and our cousin Michael, a duty we performed with utmost seriousness.

We played with a new doll, a flying horse and fairy princess, and a video game that required us to run down a path, count, solve patterns and spell. And, best of all we got a Rock Star drumming lesson from our cousin.

It was a magnificent week with many adventures including strolls through the jungle, encounters with wild creatures, and delightful new friends made along the way—much of it done with a cairn terrier at our side.

As we drove into our neighborhood and neared our house our daughter exclaimed, “My house, my house! I love Milton, Isconsin.”

And, truly she’s right. There’s no place like home. No matter how wonderful the adventure and how delightful and generous the company, there is no place like home, and it’s good to be back.

© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All Rights Reserved.

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