For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:12-13 (NIV)
After leaving the first Florida Bloggers convention, Vicki and I were reluctant to immediately head for home. Facing skin cancer surgery the next day, Vicki needed a distraction and a calming influence. I thought about the most peaceful place I know and turned the car north, then, east from Crystal River towards Dunnellon and the Rainbow River. When youngest son was small and overwhelmed by the difficulties of school, he would sometimes sigh, “I need to go to the river.” We knew that was a sign he longed for the place where he was most happy and at peace. I, too, feel relaxed and at ease along the Rainbow’s riverbanks, so was glad that there was enough time left in the day to share it with Vicki. Before we could go over the Rainbow, I wanted Vicki to have the whole experience of time spent in Dunnellon so took her to Dinkins Service Store. Housed in an old gas station, Dinkins is part feed store, part plant nursery, part new age supply. Imagine a place where baby chicks are sold next to seeds and homemade soap while wind chimes sing a heavenly trill and incense wafts through the air. I kid you not, incense burns next to the stacks of horse feed and insecticide. After paying a man so old you might think he was from another time and place, we filled the car up with plants, seeds and funny bumper stickers. Then, we stopped at a produce store buying locally grown vegetables and fruit. The car began to smell rather strange with its mix of melons, dirt and Vicki’s leftover fish and chips, but we pushed onward to the headwaters of the Rainbow River at Rainbow Springs State Park. Vicki was entranced as I knew she would be. “I never thought I’d find freshwater swimming in Florida!” she exclaimed. “Who knew there were springs and waterfalls in Florida?” I tried not to remind her that the waterfalls were manmade. We walked around to the swimming area. She had to take off her shoes and dip her toes in the cold water. I could see the tension melting from her face. I don’t care what the City of St. Augustine says; the Fountain of Youth sought by Ponce De Leon is at Rainbow River, not the spigot in that city’s park. We walked through the park on both sides of the river. I wished we had brought our bathing suits and had time to kayak, but Vicki enjoyed taking pictures of the waterfalls, bubbling springs, turtles and fish. We finished off the day with ice pops sold for 10 cents in the park’s concession stand and got back to the car just as the afternoon rains began. The ride home was full of conversation interspersed with those quiet moments that good friends can have when no talking is needed. Just the peace and contentment from a great day. Just don’t tell my son I went beyond the Rainbow without him!