Wednesday, February 1, 2017

MORE SERENDIPITY


Luzette Kincaid Musen and 
daughter Megan
Most of the time, serendipity comes to us when we veer off course and explore unfamiliar territory. While driving to central Florida recently, we left I-75 and followed US 27 to High Springs, Florida, a town of approximately 5500 people that is a destination for nature enthusiasts, which proved to be the site of serendipity. Once an important railroad center, the town now attracts sports people who enjoy fishing, scuba diving, swimming, canoeing, and tubing. Ichetucknee Springs State Park, fifteen miles north of High Springs, is a site of natural wilderness along the spring-fed Ichetucknee River; Blue Springs runs into the Santa Fe River; Ginnie Springs includes nine springs; Poe Springs Park, located five miles west of High Springs, is also on the Santa Fe River. Six miles north of High Springs, one of Florida's first state parks, O'Leno State Park, still maintains the old buildings and a suspension bridge the CCC built over the Santa Fe River back in the 1930's.

We had been to the town several times for lunch at the Great Outdoors Restaurant, but on this jaunt, we decided to walk the main streets of High Springs to shop for a gift. We wandered into a place called "Buffalo Girl Soaps" that offered all natural bath and body products, aromatherapy, and organic skin care and knew immediately that we had found more serendipity. Megan, the young woman who welcomed us, is the daughter of shop owner, Luzette Kincaid Musen, who had been in business seventeen years. Her products include handmade batches of soap of 100 percent goat's milk and quality essential oils, natural clays, minerals, and wildcrafted herbs. The scent in this small shop tucked away in High Springs conjured up visions of relaxing in warm waters scented with lavender, rose geranium, and "mint tingle" soaps.

Interior of Buffalo Girl Soaps
Luzette Musen writes a blog and in it, she mentions that she maintains the products in her shop because she likes "the smells from growing up in the South...mossy green of the creek; warm dirt in a fresh-tilled garden, the heavy sweetness of vanilla in her grandmother's custard pie... These smells are wild, sometimes untamed, and on the adventurous side," she says. Her leitmotif is: "Start with natural ingredients. Be wild, untamed, and always stay adventurous."

While we chatted with Megan, Luzette arrived. As she is a former biology teacher, she and my companion Vickie Sullivan, who is a botanist, began a discussion about plant biology and discovered similar interests in the use of natural products for general health care. Minutes passed, and our arrival time in central Florida stretched further away. When we discovered that Luzette and her daughter had just returned from Washington, D.C. and had participated in the Women's March, moments became almost an hour before we left the shop. We learned that most participants in this event had chartered buses and the march was, as expected of women, beautifully organized.

Although we didn't visit the historic Priest Theatre on First Street, built in 1910, we discovered that it had once been a place where vaudeville and traveling acts were performed. The theater had featured performers Smiley Burnett, who worked with Gene Autry; Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger; and Lash La Rue, a television star who performed with his whip. Today, the theater features three shows weekly. Performances are held on a raised stage with an arched opening and two columns on both sides and stairs on opposite sides of the stage that lead to the actors' dressing rooms. It will accommodate several hundred theatre-goers.

Although High Springs offered more vistas to explore, we were two hours behind schedule and scurried away carrying the scent of serendipity with us and vowing to return to this small paradise off the beaten trail of the busy interstate.

 



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