I have spent a fair bit of time in south Florida, my family purchased a condo there in the late 70s. When I was a kid, we’d visit go to Parrot Jungle, Monkey Jungle, the snake place (Serpentarium?), Lion Country Safari, all the crazy kid places. We also spent a fair bit of time in the Everglades, admiring the egrets, herons, and anhingas and watching for crocs. We used to go to a seafood restaurant (Joe Muer’s) that was located on or near Yamato Road. I was always intrigued with the exit off I-95 for Yamato – a Japanese name among the more standard streetnames Atlantic Blvd, Sample Road, Gateway Blvd, Boynton Beach Blvd.
Well, I visited my grandfather in Florida last weekend. He’s actually my husband’s grandfather, but we’ve given up the distinction. My biological grandfathers, dead some 20 years each, won’t complain, and it is nice to have a grandpa again. He and I did the usual – browsing at Costco and Tuesday Morning and dinners in semi-anonymous “American” restaurants.
My contribution to the itinerary was inviting him to share a take-out Italian “picnic” on a bench by the beach. He was game, though I’m not sure it was his thing. He was better at guessing what I’d like to do with him. He brought me to The Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens. We didn’t have enough time to check out the museum’s netsuke, inspect all the bonsai, linger on a bench by the lake, or meditate on a stark, raked gravel courtyard garden. But, in a short walk around the central lake, we got the restful, lyrical, and peaceful sense of the place. I also found out where Yamato Road comes from: a turn of the 20th Century plantation/settlement by Japanese fruit growers in southern Florida: the Yamato Colony. The Morikami had memorabilia, newspaper stories, and photographs from the place. Definitely on my list for a longer visit next trip!