Have you ever wondered what life was like here 30 years ago? Well it’s #ThrowbackThursday and Minorcan Mama shares memories of her childhood at Faver-Dykes State Park south of St. Augustine! ~Allie O.
A typical Saturday in my childhood would have involved packing a picnic lunch and heading into the woods. I was fortunate to spend a lot of weekends piling into my Grammy and Grampy’s yellow Wagoneer and heading off on adventures of all kinds in the woods of North Florida! One of our favorite spots was just south on US1, where the road meets the Highway, Faver-Dykes State Park. Now that I have two kids of my own—Mister Three and Miss Seven, I find myself heading back to this park from time to time to picnic, hike, explore nature and spend time together.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I packed a picnic lunch: Publix Subs (y’all Florida folks know about Publix Subs!!), watermelon, chips and some lemonade and we headed out for some fun. As we drove there, I smiled to myself as my daughter kept asking “are we there yet?” It did seem so much longer of a drive when I was a kid, too.
We enjoyed playing on Faver-Dykes State Park’s small playground, eating the picnic lunch and climbing on fallen trees. We looked out at the same marsh I had looked out as a kid, wondering if any gators were lurking. We looked up at the same blue sky for the hawks and other types of birds I had seen as a kid. I felt the same anticipation I had felt with my Dad and Grandparents, I felt the same curiosity when spotting wild animals, wanting to find out what they were. Watching my kids experience those same feelings of anticipation, curiosity and discovery reminded me why it is so important for all of us to get out into nature!
My daughter found a fallen pine tree and was struggling to climb up on it and walk on it like a balance beam, so I walked over and helped her up and held her hand until she felt confident that she could do it on her own, and she did! She proudly held her head up high, her hands out and confidently walked back and forth on that old tree, like she was a magnificent trapeze artist in the circus.
That reminded me of a time in my life that I was struggling to find my balance. Just after graduating from college, I experienced one of the biggest heartbreaks of my life—a broken engagement and a canceled wedding. I acted like it was fine and didn’t bother me, but my family knew otherwise. They all reached out to me with hugs and cards, and my dad reached out to me with a canoe oar. He told me to come on, we were going to the woods. That day, even though we didn’t talk much about what had happened, I knew he loved me and supported me. As we drifted by palm trees and cypresses through the muck and marsh, I knew I could find my balance, navigate my life because I had my family behind me. When we finally canoed out to open water, there it was before me, the vast expanse—no promises it would be easy, but promises that if I picked up an oar, kept my head up high, worked through the muck and kept going with my people around me, life was mine for the taking!
Life is yours for the taking! So pack that picnic, round up the kids, grab that oar and head out in nature today—who knows that memories you’ll make, laughs you’ll laugh, and lessons you’ll learn!
Until next month! ~Minorcan Mama
Faver-Dykes State Park
1000 Faver Dykes Road
St. Augustine, FL 32086