Far from the madding crowd at Disneyworld, in old downtown Orlando, lies a magical place known as Lake Eola Park. This oasis of light and tranquility has a very special vibration; it serves as the perfect venue for those of us seeking to connect with nature as well as with our fellow humans. The 23 acre lake has a huge fountain in the middle with multicolored lights that glow after dark. As dramatic as that may be, nothing compares to the majesty of the many, many swans for whom the lake is home, and for all the ducks, geese, egrets, and other exotic birds that populate its shores. Besides it being the perfect place to walk one's canine companions, the park is also the site for concerts and festivals of every sort. It is our Sunday morning ritual to walk around the lake and then stop by the farmers' market for fresh fruits and vegetables. On the way out, we come across a corner of the park where people are engaging in Tai Chi. Nearby stands a pagoda, a gift to the city of Orlando from Guilin, its sister city in China. Indeed, here one is always reminded of Orlando's connection to a much larger world.
Orlando, once known as 'the city beautiful', is all about celebration of life. At Lake Eola we experience both. While close to home, this special place provides us with the same sense of escape and wonderment that our travels abroad do. No wonder I wake up every Sunday morning with a sense of anticipation; how well I know the simple joys that always await me here.