On a mild winter day with the sun warm on my shoulders, I often think back to the first day I saw my little bungalow. I’d been searching for a place to rent for a few months while I went house hunting for a permanent home here in northeast Florida. On the third day one agency I'd stopped at sent me to check out two really likely places at Crescent Beach, but while I thought through the pros and cons of each, I continued on, driving south over the bridge taking me from Anastasia Island to Summerhaven.
If you blink going through Summerhaven, you’ll find yourself going over the next bridge onto Rattlesnake Island – it’s that small. With the ocean on my left, I turned onto old A1A. Most of the homes were small and old, weathered and nestled into the dunes as if they’d been there forever. A few surfers were catching rides on the long curling waves that broke on Summerhaven’s shore, but the neighborhood itself was quiet and empty in the early afternoon in the middle of the week in December. On the corner of the only road that runs east and west on this small piece of land were two small bungalows with a rental sign.
I looked back at the ocean so close on my left and the little house on the right. Wouldn’t this be a great place to stay? I called the number on the sign and was told that the houses were empty and one of them would be available for rent for the months I had in mind, but at the moment, there was no one who could come down to let me inside to check them out. So, I parked the car and got out to explore what I could see from the outside. After peeking in unshuttered windows and liking what I saw, I walked slowly back to the car, pausing in the middle of the deserted road to look back at the one I might stay in if I wished. In that moment, I knew this place was special.
Today was another of those winter days. Mild, sunny and quiet. In that winter seven years ago, I looked at many homes, some of them really appealing, and even made an offer for one of them. But nothing was quite as perfect as the bungalow by the sea and the longer I stayed here, the less I wanted to be anywhere else. I got lucky in the end. The previous owner sold me this little place my heart had fallen in love with, and I’ve been here ever since. The neighborhood is still a quiet little place off the beaten track and my neighbors are an eclectic mix of young and old, artist and business men and women, Florida born and transplants from colder climates. Moving here has been one of the best decisions of my life.
When I stand in that road and contemplate the bungalow I now call home, I get the same feeling of certainty I had that day more than seven years ago. My home is not the same salmon color it was that first time I saw it, but the feeling of home “here’s where I belong” is the same. I love the rare sunrises I am up in time for and the more frequent moonrises that enchant me with their romantic rivers of silver on the sea, and the stunning skies at sunset. Duff loves keeping his eye on his corner of the world and greeting anyone who walks by. We both love walking on the beach each day. And I am truly grateful for the serendipity that brought me here that very first day.