Florida in July: Delightful!!! Who would have thought? My brother, a Floridian for about a decade now, says that Florida natives stay inside in July; high temperatures, high humidity and high mosquito densities make it high time to avoid it all by remaining indoors. Flouting convention (something we do regularly), the Wright R. Noel family (36 strong) had high times, in Florida, in July, inside and outside.
The week was a flurry of activities—riding the trolley through St. Augustine (oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States), touring a chocolate factory (samples included), exploring the Castillo de San Marcos (a 1672 fortress with walls 17 feet thick that was never overtaken by enemy forces) and Fort Matanzas (a 1740 outpost guarding the southern river approach to St. Augustine that was never passed by enemy forces), visiting the Old Jail (walls 7 feet thick, no one ever escaped) and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm (only zoological park in the world that has ALL known species of alligators and crocodiles), and swimming in Poe Springs (natural fresh water springs) and the Atlantic Ocea(natural, salt water ocean)—all of which were awesome but the power of the party, the fulfillment of the festivities, the joy
of the journey came in the memorable moments.
Memorable moments are often tender mercies.
I had a memorable moment before we even boarded our Florida-bound plane. In the rush to get to the airport, I delegated many responsibilities, including animal chores. Something (I call it divine nudging) urged me to personally check the animals before leaving. Less than 5 minutes before getting in the car to leave for 8 days, I carved out a moment to rush down and check the livestock.
All was good…..until I got to the pigs. The pigs do not have a water trough; they drink from a nipple hooked to a
hose. Water does not come out until the pig depress a little knob inside the nipple; there is no outward indication that water is or is not available to the pigs. When I depressed the little knob, nothing happened. The hose was not turned on, the pigs had no water. The young girl we hired to take care of our animals is very conscientious but not at all farm savvy. She would never have noticed the pigs did not have water, probably would not have noticed that they were failing, certainly would not have known why they were failing, and, after 8 days without water in 100+ degree daytime temperatures, we would have returned home to three dead pigs. Thank you God for sending me down to check on the animals.
Miles and his cousins James Watkins and Eden Noel also had occasion to thank God. Here is the story.
Lance and I and the three children (Miles, Eden, and James) were driving back from Poe Springs when Eden’s front incisor came out. She held it tightly in her fist, eager to show it to her parents at the car ride’s conclusion. Somewhere between tooth loss and ride conclusion, Eden fell asleep and the tooth slipped from her hand. Eden had lost her lost tooth and she was devastated. She searched her surroundings to no avail. Miles said, “Dad, we need to say a prayer.”
“Dad, don’t we need a Priesthood holder to call on someone to say the prayer?” [During the reunion, because we were not in anyone’s home, we asked the Priesthood holder/head of household of the family in charge of cooking the meal to invite
someone to bless the food. Miles internalized the practice and wanted the Priesthood involved in their prayer.] Lance asked Eden to say the prayer and she offered a simple, heart-felt petition, pleading with God to help her find her tooth.
Faith without works is dead. At the conclusion of her sweet prayer, I was ready to tear the pick-up apart. We would find that tooth, by gum. She clearly had the faith and I was determined to do the work. Before I could even unbuckle my
seatbelt she reached down and plucked the tooth from the vehicle’s floor. Then the three of them offered a thank you prayer. It was a tender moment.
Some moments are tender, others are amusing.
At the Alligator farm, the girl cousins interacted with a lively white parrot. Together, bird and girls danced and squawked.
The more the bird danced and squawked, the more the girls danced and squawked. The bird hung upside down, the girls jumped up and down. The bird hung by one leg, the girls hopped on one leg. The bird flapped its wings, the girls clapped their hands. It was unclear whether the bird was performing as a result of the girls’ encouragement or the girls were performing at the bird’s encouragement. Which came first, the chick or the egg?
Dancing and squawking……rocks, trees, baseball bats; it all elicits laughter. We spend one evening crying tears of mirth as Marjorie, Blaine and Brad recounted stories of Brad’s near death experiences at Blaine’s hands. The exact details of the stories escape me (and I am fairly confident that the details change a bit with each telling) but the memories of the moments spent laughing together late at night will never leave.
In the musical “Into the Woods”, the Baker’s Wife offers what I consider to be a priceless insight about moments.
“Oh, if life were made of moments,
Even now and then a bad one-!
But if life were only moments,
Then you'd never know you had one.
“Let the moment go...
Don't forget it for a moment, though.
Just remembering you've had an "and",
When you're back to "or",
Makes the "or" mean more
Than it did before.
Now I understand-
“And it's time to leave the woods.”
And then it was time to leave Florida. Family reunions, like trips to the woods, do not last forever. Now we are home. The moments of the 2013 Noel Family Reunion: Florida are now memories. Gratefully, the moment memories will last forever. And, just as gratefully, life continues to offer moments that will become forever memories.
May you have many memorable moments this week.
P.S. I found this quote about moments that, for me, is insightful. I am sharing it in case you find it insightful too.
“My mind then wandered. I thought of this: I thought of how every day each of us experiences a few little moments that have just a bit more resonance than other moments—we hear a word that sticks in our mind—or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly—we share a hotel elevator with a bride in her veils, say, or a stranger gives us a piece of bread to feed to the mallard ducks in the lagoon; a small child starts a conversation with us in a Dairy Queen—or we have an episode like the one I had with the M&M cars back at the Husky station.
"And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge from our collection—certain voices would emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether; one we didn’t even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real—this clunky day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives.” [I added the bold underlining. Life is the stories you can tell...about moments!]
― Douglas Coupland, Life After God
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