Op-Ed: Tampa Bay, where roses bloom all year
Now and then we really should stop and smell the roses. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay area has lots of roses, many that bloom year round.
Metaphorically speaking, it doesn’t matter what one considers a rose; he or she will likely find one here.
Once, I decided to be a mountain man and moved to a high ridge in the southern Appalachians not far from the Appalachian Trail. We loved the experience, even though I never considered having to walk everywhere as though one leg was a foot longer than the other. The Appalachian culture is intriguing and the friends we made on the mountain will have a place in our hearts for the remainder of our lives.
But, for me, there’s no place like home.
We lived in the mountains a couple years and traveled coast to coast in our motor home, making stops at the Grand Canyon, NAPA Valley, Lake Tahoe and crisscrossing the West through states like Nevada and Arizona where wild horses still roam the canyons and drink from ancient desert oasises.
During my hitch in the Army I lived in eastern and western sectors of the U.S. and caught glimpses of Bangkok, Thailand, Japan and Alaska, not to mention spending a year in lovely South Vietnam under rockets’ red glare.
But Florida always beckoned, calling me home – it just feels right. Perhaps it’s because, short of a hurricane, there is nothing save illness to prevent one from venturing out. Maybe it’s just the memories, and anyone from anywhere feels the same. I only know that a whole lot of people come a very long way to spend time here.
We would love to travel more and that may be on the horizon, one can never be sure of their path through life. But I’ll always find my way home.
Through the years I have returned to favorite fishing spots, paid more than we could afford to dine at upscale south Tampa restaurants, and ate my share of smoked mullet during Gulf-side family picnics while enjoying the briny breeze during low tide. But after all these years there is still so much that I haven’t done or seen right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Sure, we have the same problems as other urban centers, as local news broadcasts relentlessly remind. I write about them often.
But take a moment and smell the roses. Look closely, they’re in full bloom.