The writing assignments I receive from St. Augustine Social enable me to cross paths with truly remarkable locals. This was especially true when I found myself in Tara Dodson’s yard one breezy Sunday evening. Chickens and rabbits wandered her spacious property while her family, friends and neighbors meandered - strolling in and out of the kitchen while bratwurst and salad were being prepped.
Earlier that day, we threw around other interview locations like Old Coast Ales and Dog Rose Brewery. I’m glad we settled in on her home. The setting was a reminder of what often draws me to St. Augustine Beach. In constant pursuit of my 10,000 steps, I parked half a mile from her house and just enjoyed the unfamiliar scenery that driving easily makes one miss.
Her neighbor across the street just so happened to recognize me from a WedFest shoot that took place one sweltering September day near Hastings. So began the endless connections and minimal degrees of separation that I’ve come to anticipate when on assignment.
“Tara, your interviewer is here!” shouted Cassidy from her stoop.
Her trucker hat prevented me from recognizing her right away. I appreciated the warm transfer.
By the time we met, Tara had already enjoyed a full day of four wheeling and other Florida style adventures with her family. As always, it was fascinating to sit across from a new face and take in part of the story that shaped her and charted her on this current trajectory. In this case, it involved the establishment of an organization called Full Circle Resource Management. It was hard not to find her commitment to sustaining our environment incredibly endearing. She had already been in the trenches for years as an environmentalist, so she has a unique pulse on the issues at hand.
We barely spoke for two minutes before I was invited to stick around for dinner, which took me aback even though I’ve had overnight guests at my house within hours of meeting them. This is hardly the first time I’ve been shown spontaneous hospitality, but my heart is full of gratitude each and every time someone performs a selfless act. It goes without saying that random acts of kindness are lacking these days. So it’s especially refreshing when they are encountered.
Tara’s family home is situated in such a way that their guests kind of get a free seat to whoever is performing at The Amp. This can be a blessing or a malediction depending on which way the wind blows.
I went for a bike ride the other night while playing our interview recording. Her insights have made drafting the article super enjoyable. As usual, I now want to get involved with an upcoming event associated with her work. Sometimes I wish I could turn my multi-passionate brain off for just thirty minutes…