DEJA` VUThe experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previousl.
I spent Fall Break in Florida with my four oldest grandchildren. Of course we did Disney World, including the roller coaster ride to the top of Mt. Everest... NEVER AGAIN!
On my second day in Florida I had an amazing experience completely outside the realm of theme parks. We took a little side trip to visit the LDS Ranch in White Cloud. They run 44,000 head of premium Angus/Brahma cattle on 300,000 pristine Florida acres. It was beyond beautiful with huge oak trees dripping with moss, murky water holes filled with "gators" and whooping cranes, raccoons, and armadillos. Everywhere I looked the land seemed to be in it's natural state, untouched by humans.
I knew I had never been to Florida but I also knew that this was all strangely familiar. It was very deja` vu. After a tour of the outlying area we stopped at the ranch house, a small white framed cottage with a full wrap around screened porch. There was a 6' Diamond Back Rattlesnake skin tacked to the wall and a 13' taxidermy alligator named Gus living in the parlor.
I just couldn't shake the feeling I had seen this all before. Our guide, a sweet little woman, told us all about the 55 year history of the ranch and all of it's workings. She also was excited to tell us about the animals. After listing all the familiar species she mentioned the "white tail" deer. Unlike our mule deer they are tiny, about the size of a dog.
I made an audible gasp... I knew where I was.
I was watching a young boy named Jodi and a fawn named Flag run through the forests of central Florida with the freedom and naivete that only comes with childhood. I was standing in my favorite children's book... THE YEARLING by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (winner of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize.) I first read this book 35 years ago and was instantly drawn to the writing that is almost poetic and to the coming of age story that is touching and poignant.
Now I was smelling it and seeing it and feeling it.
Traveling is always a broadening experience. Some of us will do a lot of it and some won't venture too far from home. We all, however, can experience the world through books. "Faraway places, with strange sounding names" can become familiar haunts in the pages of a good book.
I often think of a quote coined by an English professor at my Alma Mater
"Literature will illuminate your life"