The Sassy Sandpiper: Strolling Through the Park One Day
By M.R. WILSON, Columnist, TB Reporter
A sweet, March morning brings a sharing of something priceless.
Joe’s Creek Greenway Park is affectionately known as “Lealman’s Eden” by those who frequent its winding walk-and-bike path. The wooded park buffers city noise and transports visitors to a green world where the Natural Order of Things holds sway, where ospreys and belted kingfishers hover and cry over fish-laden waters. Ibis, wood storks, great blue herons, and snowy egrets wade silently, also hopeful of garnering a meal. The marsh rabbits are making an appearance once more. The creatures passersby mention most, however, are the alligators. An alleged 14-footer patrols his territory without mercy for any young males who may foolishly challenge his reign.
I’ve had especially nice chats with a particular passerby for the past four-plus years. Not only have we talked about the ’gators, we’ve rhapsodized about almost everything green, growing, feathered, finned and furred. Two dogs accompany her: Snickers, a 12-year-old Sheltie, and Cassie, a solid white, long-haired Jack Russell Terrier riding in a baby stroller, bright-eyed and happy-as-you-please. Having recently turned 15, Cassie felt spiffy one morning and walked most of the 1.1-mile path twice.
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember their human companion’s name.
Synchronicity was kind last week as March made a less than lionish landing in Pinellas County. There she was in the parking lot, loading up the pups for the ride home, just as I strolled to the entrance. We offered cheery greetings. I learned she was “Mary Beth.” I spelled my name for her, “M-e-r-r-y like Christmas.” She replied, “I had a friend who spelled her daughter’s name like that…Margie.”
Well, it was one of those lightning bolt moments of recognition, if you know what I mean.
“Oh my goodness, you’re that Mary Beth! Mom loved you!”
I admit a flash flood of tears and hair-raising chills. My mother died in 1995. I still miss her fiercely.
We talked about her work for Mom in a busy office of two prominent St. Petersburg builders, Bernie Green and Don Verona. I told Mary Beth how much I missed my Mom, how she and my Granny and I were like the Three Musketeers, about their unflinching love and support throughout the peaks and valleys of my life. In the warm sunshine and yet gentle March breeze, I felt Mom’s presence.
Such happenstances are sacred to me. Of all the times Mary Beth and I had met each other, exchanged the usual pleasantries and chatted with others along the Greenway, I had no clue that this strong, upbeat woman — 70 years young — and I shared something priceless.
It pays to stop and say hello and perhaps divulge a little more. A precious connection could be waiting, ripe for discovery, behind a simple “Good morning!” and wave of your hand.
Columns | The Sassy Sandpiper | Joe’s Creek Greenway Park | TB Reporter
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