So to counteract my wallowing and wanting, here's a glimpse of what makes me feel better. We have spent the past two weekends exploring our very own local oasis: Oasi del Simeto. This nature reserve is a beautiful combination of marsh and beach that are home to all kinds of birds, frogs, snakes, and other interesting critters.There is a raised path leading to the beach which provides a good outlook for the surrounding marsh and a clear view of where the Simeto River meets the ocean. The beach is sandy and full of interesting driftwood (and sadly, some garbage, too). It is also the only place on the island to search for Sicilian amber or Simetite amber. So far, we haven't had luck in finding any of those amazing treasures, but we will keep searching. And did I mention the breathtaking views of Mount Etna? It is almost surreal to walk along with waves lapping at our feet, while Etna keeps watch from overhead... a microcosmic mix of all of favorite parts of Sicily, a snow globe filled with an active volcano, a beautiful beach, a Mediterranean sunset, and birds flying overhead.