Skimming across the Florida marsh on an airboat, the sun is warm on my face and I am pink-faced and exhilarated. I am wearing cans over my ears to dampen the loud buzz of the giant fan and my hair streams back from my face. Our guide with the grizzly white beard sits in front, his hair wrapped up in a stars-and-stripes bandana, one hand on the joystick steering the boat, his other hand gesturing proudly at the land that he obviously loves.
We pass by herds of brown cows that look at us with curiosity, and flocks of white ibis that take off as we approach. The bald eagle swoops over our heads to perch on the top of a tree. An alligator that is enjoying the noonday sun slips quietly into the water for a few minutes, and then rises to the surface again to stare at us with an unblinking eye.
The marshlands stretch for miles around, the sunlight glinting off the water that reflects the blue skies. MDH is holding my hand, and we are both laughing and pointing at an egret that is out hunting for frogs.
My heart is light, and as I watch the birds rise from the waters, buoyant on the wind, I feel my spirits lift too. I want to join them, flying high and fast, revelling in the beauty of this place.
I will come back here again. Someday.