It took leaving home for me to appreciate the beauty that is my own backyard.
When my husband and I decided to separate from the Navy and put down roots in Jacksonville, FL, we craved a long-term investment in the local people and places. I’m a Jacksonville native, and didn’t appreciate this place until I left home. Granted, the Navy has its own one of a kind community, and it’s one that travels with you, but there is something special about the interesting tangle of relationships that are inevitable when one stays in a single place for a long time.
"Roots" (in the traditional sense) were something I always pictured providing for my family, mostly because I was so blessed to be raised with them. However, the Navy presented some tempting alternatives, and up until my first child was about 6 weeks old, it was our intention to continue in that lifestyle and enjoy a different kind of community than we always assumed we would create for ourselves. As children do, however, our daughter changed everything, and ultimately my husband and I realized "roots" was the right choice for us, which brings us here today.
As I paint the beautiful foliage I see every day, I realize how much I take for granted the beauty of the backyard I returned to. I am so romanced by the novelty of what is unfamiliar: Those spindly trees of Tuscany, the arid vineyards of California, the farms of Georgia, and, well, seasons other than "summer." However, if I lived among the gorgeous landscapes I drool over and came to visit the backroads of Florida, I don't think I would find the wise canopy of oak trees or the mysterious salt marshes bland. It wasn't until I took a closer look at these roots that I remembered why I chose them in the first place.