Sometimes inspiring clarity comes in unsuspecting places.
Chad and I met 25 years ago; he is like my brother. Circumstances recently gave me 24 hours in Miami, where he currently lives. While short by usual trip standards, this visit left my spiritual battery overflowing with energy as the plane took off into the sunset over the Everglades.
Knowing the importance of nature in travel for me, and with only a few hours to make use of daytime in Miami, Chad took us to the Coconut Grove neighborhood – for nutrition and nature.
The food was delicious, and we set out on foot, exploring the upscale boutiques and eateries. After a few blocks, commerce turned to houses, and I chuckled inside, thinking about how I loved the Golden Girls as a kid when Miami seemed so far away from my world.
A sign welcoming us to The Barnacle Historic State Park seemed to pop out of a jungle with no fanfare but a heartfelt welcome. It immediately felt good.
Our conversation quieted as we strolled through dense hammocks vegetation that used to line the entire coastline. Helpful signs outlined various points of interest, and information about the “killer fig tree” stuck in my mind. Arms intertwining around unsuspecting oak trees reminded me that even in nature, there is always a story of aggressor and aggressed.
We were drawn to the far corner of the grounds across a sea of Bermuda grass that led to a boathouse on the shoreline. Seeing a two-foot-long iguana with bright green scales was a bit of a shock. He turned his head to us ever so slightly and then began to lead us around the corner of the historical wood structure.
We both tippy-toed with him, traveling into another realm between the seen and unseen on that deck. I’m blessed to experience the mystery of nature often, and what I love about this feeling is the clarity that comes from flushing every other thought, worry, or worldly demand away.
Chad seemed to melt into a block of wood as a makeshift stool while I folded against a large post holding up the second story of the boathouse. Perched a few feet off the muddy shore, we barely noticed each other.
This narrow sliver of a park is wedged between condo buildings, jackhammer construction on a nearby pier, and airplanes taking off from Miami Airport. It wasn’t the likely location of anything calm, but a blissful nature scene panned into our hearts as the outside world started to wash away.
A flock of white birds with long orange beaks were pecking their way through a thick mangrove. They seemed intent on gathering every bug in the mud, revealed by the low tide. We were only a few feet away, but our quietness matched theirs.
A humid wind nudged clouds above us, revealing the sun’s bright rays. All at once, the muddy banks seemed to come alive. Dozens of little crabs raised their pinchers like synchronized swimmers – the brilliant light reflecting on their red stripes.
When I thought I noticed everything in this impromptu immersion, two more sizable iguanas materialized on branches around the birds. They appeared patient and content to wait for food.
What nature connection means to me is to have a different kind of pulse that doesn’t reflect the day’s demands. The clarity I felt had no room for distractions. I wasn’t worried about making my flight – in a few hours. I couldn’t hear the jackhammer. I didn’t notice the growing crowd of other visitors standing behind us – cameras at their sides.
A clump of mud and roots decorated with animals was captivating enough to encourage us all to stop, be still, and pay attention to a different heartbeat. We were no longer spectators but instead active characters in this mangrove diorama.
It’s difficult to say how much time elapsed as Chad and I both enjoyed this trance in nature. Eventually, we turned to one another, nodded, and slowly extracted ourselves from this scene. It felt like waking in the morning with a fresh dream still lingering.
We returned slowly to the path through the jungle, and Chad enthusiastically remarked, “That was incredible! We were surrounded by concrete and noise, but it felt like another world. All I noticed were the animals and the mangrove.” I suggested he do something like this each day.
I boarded my flight feeling joy, calm, and fulfillment for the quality of time I had with my friend. All in the seemingly short hours of a one-day visit.
My pulse drops when I think of our new friend, the iguana – leading us to an unforgettable immersion into the mystery of Mother Earth. Experiences like these make travel rewarding.
Thank you Chad, and the mangrove cast of characters!
May your nature connection be surprising, fulfilling, and healing… with a quality that engages a soulful beat.
Would you like to learn how to elevate your nature connection?
With an open mind and practice, you can grow your connection to Mother Earth and experience something similar to our time in Barnacle Bay. I can show you how — with an in-person guided Mystic Nature Experience.