Returning to Koreshan State Park in Estero, Florida on November 2 felt like a homecoming. There was much that has changed since we left the park in April (more on that later) but somehow time compresses itself in the familiar and it seems like merely weeks since we were last here.
First, news about where we are living. Our new site this year in the Volunteer Village is our favorite of all three years here. We are up against the fence which means we are closest to the very busy Tamiami Trail but the huge advantage is we have a really lovely “front yard”, a place to securely store our bicycles and no neighbors on our front door side. Plus, we are removed from the center of the very busy Village, the bathhouse, and the Rec Hall. The morning sun streams in the kitchen windows and the afternoon sun hits the back of T2, keeping things much cooler than last year when we faced straight into the afternoon sun. We are next door to some friends from last year who are easy to be around. It’s all good.
Next, our volunteer assignments are turning into what we had hoped for. Peter was looking forward to resuming his role with the Koreshan cooking program. The arrival of a new park manager, assistant manager, and special events manager created some initial apprehension but now that we are into the groove, all is going well. For the pre-season (prior to January 1), he is serving Koreshan recipes (breads, bread pudding, pies) on Sundays to visitors and the reviews are great. Peter is expecting to make the necessary tweaks and get to another high quality and consistent offering. He has one returning volunteer from last year’s cooking program already on the ground with one other veteran arriving in January.
He has recruited two new volunteers so the first challenge is getting the whole crew working together and it’s going well. A couple of weeks ago Peter launched the season’s first “Lunch and Learn” program which consists of a private tour of the Settlement (which I got to lead) followed by a private lunch of authentic Koreshan recipes. The menu was awesome – Portuguese fish soup, grilled kale with onions and garlic, coleslaw, cornbread, and mango and Shaker lemon pie for dessert. It was a great day.
My assignments are focused on docent activities in the Art Hall, my favorite place in the Settlement. Due to a change in the state regulations, I am not doing as many tours as I had hoped which means the rare ones I do get to do are very special to me.
This week I submitted my proposal for year two of the Women’s History Month programmer March and am now waiting for a meeting with management and their approval. I’m also working on a new presentation entitled “Women of Koreshan” which I will be presenting at the Life Long Learning Institute just up the road in Punta Gorda later in January. I’m also helping pull together a display for the Lee County Library featuring the Settlement, which is also really interesting since it involves getting back into the archives which are under the careful protection of the folks at Florida Gulf Coast University. I’m really learning a lot from the curator of the collection and the professors with whom I get to interact.
On the family and friends front, we spent Thanksgiving in Tampa with my son and his two girls which was a weekend of wonderful time together, great food, a tour of a new Western art museum in St. Petersburg, and the luxury of three nights in our favorite Hilton Garden Inn, luxurious with a bathtub for soaking and unlimited big fat cotton towels, things that make such weekends extra special when living in T2.
We had a catch-up visit with my cousin who lives up in Sarasota and heard all about her incredible trip (in October) to Portugal, which makes me want to go there sooner rather than later. There will be more family visits over the Christmas holidays as one of my sisters and her family venture to sunny, lovely Florida where we’ll have a reunion that will hopefully include my son and his daughters for joyous celebration.
Christmas is always nostalgic for us since we miss our New Hampshire family when we are on the road like this but I have to say it is far less painful than that first Christmas on the road back in 2015. With the passage of time, and the broader perspective of how wonderfully blessed we are to be able to live this way, the separation feels less severe.
On December 30 we will mark the 4th anniversary of our full-timing lifestyle. It has gone beyond our wildest dreams, stretching us both individually and together in unexpected ways, and opening our eyes and our hearts to a world that neither of us knew before. When we started this pilgrimage four years ago, there was no way of knowing how many wonderful new friends we would make along the way, how it would enrich us spiritually, and what a blessing it was to pare down and live lighter and much more simply. Thank you for coming along with us.
Liz and Peter are settled into Koreshan State Park in Estero, Florida for the season in their Airstream. Wishing you a joyous holiday and a happy New Year.