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company picnic

just got back from the company picnic. it was our annual winter bash combined with the nursery's 20th birthday party.

one of the more interesting things at the party was the "sphere of death" from the ringling brothers & barnham-bailey circus. one of our mechanics owns this particular circus act. in essence, it's a big spherical cage that three guys on motorcycles ride in, each defying gravity in a separate orbit, zooming across one another's paths moto-cross fashion. for 40 years, victor, the mechanic, rode one of the motorcycles. his father did it before him and his grandfather before his father. his grandfather, a brazilian, conceived the stunt and had the sphere built. now victor's sons are the principal riders.

today, victor replaced one of his sons so he could ride in front of his friends. it was the first time he had done so in two years. in the final act, victor's wife [in a costume that somewhat resembles wonder woman's] stood in the center of the sphere, arms upraised as though in victory, as her husband and two sons zoomed around her head. [i wonder what they talk about at dinner.]

victor told me once that he really enjoyed his career with the act. he said it had allowed him to visit about 80 different countries and see a lot of things he would otherwise not have been able to see.

for eats, we had wonderfully fresh oysters from apalatchicola, two barbecued hogs [that resulted in a mountain of pulled pork for sandwiches and four warming pans of ribs], two warming pans full of hot wings, two 5-gallon kettles of black-eyed peas [one tame, one very spicy], a 10-gallon pot of fresh silver queen corn on the cob, a large cooler full of stone crab claws, all kinds of salads and sides, and more beer, wine, sodas, orange juice, and plain and sweet tea than the 200 to 250 attendees could possibly drink.

although all i did was eat and drink [the two things i do best], there was lots of other stuff going on. the nursery has a recreation area that is almost as big as its palm-growing area. the recreation area, which was the center of the picnic, includes a full-size soccer field with lights, a volley ball court, and two sets of horseshoe pits. for the occasion, we brought in one of those inflated "jumping" rooms for little kids.

and for those who wanted a respite from all of the bustle and noise, there is a nature walk that follows a creek that runs through to property. the walk has short boardwalk excursions into swampy areas [way out from one of the boardwalks is a dead slash pine, devoid of limbs but with a bald eagles nest on top]. there is also a fire pit with bonfire; circular seating is on limestone boulders. lots of us older employees sit around this fire, drink wine, and lie to each other.

when i left today, i told stephen and michelle [they are the owners of this remarkable enterprise] that all family picnics would henceforth and forever be measured against this one.

and this evening, if the rain does not return, where will be a hay ride.


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