Back in 2019, when we could all be around each other without the thought of a face mask, when the phrase “social distancing” was foreign and grocery stores didn’t care which way you walked down the aisle, we had big plans for 2020.
It was going to be the year we celebrated a few milestones — my husband, Kurt, turning 40, and our fifth wedding anniversary. We had planned a big trip to Hawaii in the middle of July, and later in September, a long weekend in Mexico for a good friend’s destination wedding. That was before traveling by plane became an even bigger risk, before the shutdown, before the passport office was so backlogged, before the wedding was postponed. It was before so many other things happened in our country and in our lives. I’m willing to bet you can relate. The wake of COVID-19 has affected all of us in one way or another. Despite the mayhem, still, we found a way to carry on, only on a much smaller scale.
Kurt’s 40th birthday in May was a backyard cookout with a few friends, burgers and hot dogs. And though we decided going to Hawaii this year wouldn’t be the best idea, we still had the chance to explore somewhere new. A good friend invited us to Sarasota, Florida for the week, where we stayed in the most quaint condo on the intracoastal waterway. It was a true getaway, and we had so much fun boating, sunbathing and breathing in the fresh sea salt air. We supported local restaurants and ate so many delicious dinners with impeccable oceanfront views. I splurged on lobster tail and scallops one night, and had a rare buttered lobster roll for lunch on one of our last days there. We even went deep sea fishing 30 miles out into the ocean offshore, and threw our line 80 feet deep. Between the five of us, we caught about 60 fish, and you wouldn’t believe the variety! I reeled in the most beautiful fish with all kinds of markings and colors.
The water temperature was 91 degrees that day, so I’m told the bigger fish weren’t biting as much, but no matter. The fish I reeled in were the biggest I’d ever caught, so I was happy as a whelk in its shell. It’s all about perspective, right? In our family pond, I’ve caught bass and perch, whiting and shellcracker, but I had never reeled in a 20-inch bright pink grouper, snapper or porgy. Let me just say, when you reel in a fish from 80 feet deep, it will work you to death. No wonder fishing makes you hungry.
It was my first time offshore fishing, and though I did get a little seasick, it was over quickly. I really enjoyed being out on the open seas. At one point, when we were anchored out in the middle of the ocean, about four spotted dolphins curiously crept up to the boat and passed on by. We watched as their fins glided effortlessly through the water and waved goodbye.
On our way out of town, we stopped by the post office to send postcards to family and friends. The six-hour drive back to Savannah included a short jaunt down Highway 301, which was like a window into the world before interstates became the main thoroughfare. Filled with empty motels, antique shops and roadside farm stands, we stopped for fresh peaches, blackberries and local honey. Here’s to pivoting when plans change, and making the most of life when it gives you lemons. Until next time!
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.