Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Springtime adventure: 'Find the cool'

PANAMA CITY BEACH — I realized what I had been missing this week.
It wasn’t Friday morning, as I kneeled in the sand and watched surfers catching waves near the jetties at St. Andrews State Park, although that was part of it. The sun was warm, the wind fresh and crisp. The laughter and good spirit among the surfers was a tonic for the soul.

And it wasn’t Thursday evening as I shot video of women in a belly dance class at the City Arts Cooperative in downtown Panama City, although that was part of it too. The women were, without fail, gracious and tolerant of the stranger in their midst. As they practiced footwork and veil choreography, they showed a sisterly bond with one another that made mistakes a welcome part of the learning experience.

It wasn’t even when I toured the Zen Garden, admiring the blooming desert roses and the tiny goldfish schooling in a lotus pond, though that was definitely part of it as well. The sea breeze in the trees, the trickle of water down a manmade waterfall, the soft conversations floating through the hallways all combined for a peaceful state of mind.

What I had been missing, and what I recognized this week, came upon the spur of a moment when I decided to try something outside my experience. Not a big thing, just a small thing. A token that illustrated for me how insular my world had become in recent years.

I asked for, and drank, a shot glass filled with the pulpy green squeezings of wheatgrass.

Right? Not a life-changing trauma. Not an earth-shattering revelation. Just a tiny swig or two of springtime condensed into a thick, vibrantly green liquid. Sweet and charged with life.

Work has kept me indoors in recent years. Changes have thrust me back into the sunshine. (A coworker joked that he couldn’t imagine seeing me with a tan. It could happen.) And I have a directive to seek out the places, people and events of local interest. “Find the cool,” I was told.

I invite you to come with me. Suggest some subjects. Discover what we’ve been missing. You’ll find our videos, stories and photos at in the “Get Local” and “Outdoors” pages, and presented in print.

It’s springtime, the world is waking up. Let’s see what it has for us.


This was my Undercurrents column for the News Herald on Sunday, March 6.
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