Herons, Egrets, Gators and Authors–which of these things is not like the others?

Tri-colored heron at Ding Darling.jpgSometimes it’s easy to tell when a day is going to be special.  This past week our youngest son and his wife came to visit us in Sanibel, at least partly to get away from the snow at home in Ohio, and partly to see us.  We will never ask for percentages.

Of course the temperatures dropped precipitously just before they arrived.  I had told them to bring shorts along with coats.  I’m delighted I added coats.  They arrived to rain and near freezing temperatures.  Our planned patio lunch didn’t materialize.  We came home and stayed inside, playing Euchre and Scrabble and catching up.  We had a lovely time anyway.

Drying Wings at Ding Darling.jpgTheir last full day with us dawned sunny and warm.  I slapped “special” on my calendar.  There was so much to show them and so little time.  In the end we settled on J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge not far from our house.  The refuge provides habitat for more than 220 species of birds.  Nearly 3,000 acres of land are designated by Congress as a wilderness area, all thanks to Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling who back in the 1940s worked to protect the land from developers and, with the help of Harry Truman, did just that.

Ding Darling gator.jpgThere’s something remarkably therapeutic about seeing wildlife in its natural habitat.  We took our time, making multiple stops along the way.  A cool breeze, warm sun, feathered and scaly creatures to amuse us, and a comfortable house to go back to.  It doesn’t get better.

Except that it did later that evening.  We had the pleasure of enjoying yet another of Sanibel’s “wildlife” attractions after dinner at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill.  Thanks to a sister-in-law who raved about the Sanibel based Doc Ford novels of author Randy Wayne White, I’ve enjoyed reading his mystery series for several years, as has my husband.  To hook my son and daughter-in-law, after dinner we bought the first novel, Sanibel Flats, for one of them to read on their flight home.  Because yes, Doc Ford’s is Randy Wayne White’s own fabulous restaurant, and the reception area has all the novels along with some great souvenirs–including Tomlinson’s sarong.  As I paid, the hostess suggested I take my copy over to the bar and have Randy sign it himself. 

RWW.jpgWhat a pleasure.  There he was, in his natural habitat, too.  This is a very nice guy, who greeted all of us like old friends.  And being on the other side of the autographing table?  Loved it.  Authors have favorite authors, too, and sometimes we simply get to be fans.

So as my title asks, which of these things is not like the other?  Sorry, it was a trick question.  These were all pieces of a lovely Sanibel, FL day. 

By the way, Randy’s been remarkably successful with his two Doc Ford restaurants–try the lime panko-crusted fish sandwich–and that set me thinking.  Doesn’t Aggie Sloan-Wilcox need her own restaurant, too?  I’m thinking vegetarian fare, perhaps right in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country.

Nah. . .  


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