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A Gentle Giant

Updated: May 12, 2021

The only constant is change. And boy have we dealt with that constant over the past nine months and counting. To say it’s been chaotic is an obvious understatement. But there are at least two things that remain unchanged, and they provide solace during these crazy times.

Our family has remained extremely careful with how we interact in a socially responsible manner. Masks, social distancing, hand washing, and disinfecting measures have become the new normal in our household. But it’s so very important for us to find new ways to engage with the world and the outdoors in healthy but safe ways.

Enter the cabins at Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Florida. Located just outside of Orlando, my son and I escaped for a two-day mini-vacation. It was amazing how just driving on new roads and seeing different sights along the way made such a huge difference in both our moods. But it’s what we hoped to see, and did catch sight of once we arrived, that brought a smile to both our faces.

That first unchanged thing I mentioned above? It’s the water temperature of the springs at this state park. It remains a balmy seventy-two degree year-round. And to the manatees who don’t have a layer of blubber to protect them from the chilly water temperatures at this time of year, it’s a welcome retreat and solace, for both them as well as the visitors who have the opportunity to watch them glide gracefully through the water, rotating left and right. They’re affectionately known in our household as “floaty potatoes”.

My son and I spent hours, just watching these gentle giants parade through the water in a way that surpassed the joy felt while watching any rendition of the Macy’s Day Parade. And that peaceful feeling carried over into the evening hours as we sat around a campfire, listening to the sounds of nature, reminiscing about old memories and planning new ones.

That second unchanged thing from the beginning of these thoughts? It’s hope. Even amidst the most unsettling and anxiety-inducing chaos, we have the wherewithal inside us to embrace hope. While we might not understand exactly what our new memories will look like, we do know with unwavering certainty, that just like those manatees, we’ll find warmer temperatures alongside the solace of a peaceful retreat. We only need a dash of hope and the will to keep swimming.


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