Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walking Big Coppitt

Fried chicken and gasoline at Mile Marker 10, and the secret side streets of Big Coppitt are there to be explored.Cheyenne is learning to stick to the shady side of the street as we go exploring in the middle of the day.
Big Coppitt is an island where working people can find somewhere reasonably affordable, by local standards, to live. The side streets also offer space for the shade tree mechanic to ply his trade.
Despite the abundance of off street parking here there is a bit of an obsession with parking on Big Coppitt.I guess strangers have muscled their way onto this street in the past and chosen this lot to turn around, to someone's apparent discomfort. You can park here as this one's for sale.
Not here though. Not anywhere near here.
The big house on the little prairie. At first I thought it was s a shuttered snowbird home but close up I found a For Sale sign.Wild pit bull anxious to make Cheyenne's acquaintance. She ignored him, as usual.
She must have read the sign. Personally I'll bet he's a sweet dog, just never walked and not much loved. Just chained to the porch all day and bored.Think of this as camouflaged not abandoned.
Poinciana shade.I've seen these plastic owls used to frighten off birds from boats in the marina. Never before seen to frighten off birds from parked cars. Immobile cars more like. No parking- and if you were thinking about it the space has been shut out with strategically placed cement blocks. I find it odd that outside spaces are used to pile junk, not to make outdoor living pleasant.
It's tough to make ends meet in the Keys and short cuts are sometimes the only way to keep going. Pepto Bismol home next to sky blue home for sale. More signs.Beware of the cat more like.
Mobile home rendered immobile.
Waterfront home exhibiting signs of permanence behind the privacy hedge. The alarm company sign and the Private Property sign leave no doubt that this hedge is hiding...private property.And at last we reached the dead end, marked for some extraordinary reason by a yellow road work light on a stand.
"Use beach at own risk" said an ancient sign mostly buried in the sand. So we did, because we are daredevils, Cheyenne and I.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Celo Farming

Every time I see their home, Bob and Geeta put me in mind of Hansel and Gretel tucked away in the woods.This year with the increasing bad news on the financial, ecological and social fronts this place seems more like a refuge. Bob and Geeta live on very little, the home they built themselves decades ago is supplied with well water and is heated in winter with wood they cut themselves. They are growing their own fruits and vegetables and live in a valley surrounded by like minded peaceable neighbors. Unemployment, failed oil wells and falling housing markets seem a world away. At the end of a very long gravel driveway.They live in the shadow of Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the eastern United States an hour north of Asheville, the commercial hub of these Appalachian Mountains. Geeta still works from time to time as a General practice doctor, filling in for colleagues when she wants to pay for a trip while Bob ruminates on philosophy and societal collapse after a career teaching at University. This winter Geeta returns to India to work among women who don't frequently get first world medical care while bob will stay home to stoke the home fire and read and watch the frost settle on these leafless woods.The main road into Celo off State Highway 80 is a public road, county maintained but the web of gravel roads criss crossing the community lands are private and once a year the community meeting has to record that the road was closed for a day to maintain that private status. They use this saw horse to block the road as needed by law:
The community has been overrun by deer and at a meeting recently the consensus was that deer hunting should be allowed, though not with firearms. Bob shook his head, " I never thought I'd see the deer we would allow deer hunting in any form," the pacifist admitted. But the deer are doing so well they are interfering with crops. Our failing economy isn't hurting them, though they should be aware that even Geeta the vegetarian is considering the possibility of having to eat their meat if food deliveries of vegetarian proteins is ever interrupted. I never thought I'd hear those words pass her lips. The stock market my be gyrating wildly but when my sister in law treats the possibility of industrial collapse seriously I know the world as we know it is in trouble.I met a young man in a monkish robe moving this electric fence to give the sheep fresh pastures."learning as I go," he said smiling. I complemented him on his flock. they are active and healthy and alert so he can't be doing much wrong. Milk wool and ...meat, on the hoof, here sheltering in the shade from a merciless and unusual 95 degree sun. A couple of years ago the word came that all these unnamed streets had to be given names and numbers "to help emergency services locate residents needing help." It seems to most people that the sudden sprouting of silly street names across rural North Carolina has more to do with the ominous needs of Homeland Security, that Orwellian national insecurity organization, than any need for fire engines to find their way. Nevertheless the street names have sprouted obediently.
From the school's website: The Arthur Morgan School (AMS) provides a safe and loving environment where 27 day and boarding school students in grades 7, 8 and 9 learn to question and evaluate, think creatively and work cooperatively. A low student/teacher ratio ensures individualized instruction and guidance. Students and staff honor the Quaker values of simplicity, responsibility, service, personal integrity, nonviolent conflict resolution and respect for self, others and the environment.
Not a bad place to learn you'd think. And the ride to school, in summer at least, is ideal.there are two school buses as needed.
Celo is also a working farm and community member share chores in the various fields and storage areas.
Then there is summer camp for 35 youngsters. For over fifty years the Barrus family has welcomed campers to join us for the summer on the Camp Celo farm. The farm setting provides the basis for much of the camp activity with the children caring for animals and harvesting in the garden. There is hiking and camping in the surrounding forests and mountains, and swimming and tubing on the South Toe River. Activities include arts & crafts, skits, wood shop, nature appreciation and big group games. The heatwave this summer has taken everyone by surprise though a very cold winter followed by an excessively hot summer is not an impossible scenario predicted by climate change scientists. In these mountains temperatures every day around 100 degrees will take some getting used to in summer.Cows are part of the farm though they, like the sheep are looking for refreshment by late morning.
Homes in the community reflect individual tastes and though this is a backwoods world they are served by power and light. I remember when I arrived for the first time at Bob and Geeta's home late one night after a harrowing drive along dark mountain lanes, unsure of my destination and uncertain at each intersection, I stumbled out of my van and entered their little mountain hideaway. It is a measure of my confusion that I was astonished to hear a telephone ring (the same phone I had spoken with them numerous times). It seemed such an unlikely modern instrument in such a setting.
there is a waiting list to join the community these days and the enterprise, if it can be called by such a commercial title, is flourishing. City slickers are learning to go back to the land and do it cooperatively.
Food is growing...
...in scenes of rural serenity that seem stolen from a previous age.
With modern intrusions.
Some of them meet to quake in the sight of the Lord, with their Homeland approved street sign.
And the outside world hardly intrudes at all.
I miss my blue ocean waters,oil free and ready for swimming.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vacation Continues

I am home for a few nights of work before we leave for part two of summer vacaciones, on the road. We have had more financial setbacks and the Chief Financial Officer advised me we need to combine her need to go to California with my need to burn off accumulated leave from the Police Department. So Poof Tour 2010 has been shelved and I still don't get to see New England which is pissing me off. Nor will we greet the friendly poofs who we were hoping to see one more time on this cancelled trip. Not least we have to skip seeing riepe in his native element which I was looking forward to. However this does mean the wife doesn't have to spend money flying to California from the East Coast which would have been an additional expense. And I get to see the Motel 6 in Fort Stockton, Texas, one more time. I was hoping to take a ferry across Lake Champlain and shake the hand of a Vermont secessionist. Oh well, man proposes and God disposes.

Cheyenne slept for 48 hours straight after we got home and I am not sure how she will view a three days slingshot to Los Angeles in the back of the Fusion, but she is a cheerful soul and probably spending a few days closeted in the car with me and the wife is better than her previous life. I hope so at any rate. She will get lots of cool weather walks in my old haunts in Santa Cruz's redwood forests to make up for the inconvenience of getting there.

I am now hoping to see Bobskoot in Oregon before launching ourselves back across country to be back at work the last week of July. In the meantime I have a few more stories from the most excellent summer trip to North Carolina and a few photo essays in the can to carry us through the next three weeks. Then of course I will be home happily back in my daily routine and facing what they say is an elevated chance of getting hit by a hurricane. Or oily rain.

We hit the road Saturday morning at 6:30am sharp.

Green Turtle Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf Key has a large subdivision off Sugarloaf Boulevard, south of Sugarloaf Lodge, lots of palm trees, a wide sidewalk and homes on expansive lots. Just what Cheyenne likes to explore.We were on Green Turtle half way down the boulevard checking out whatever there might be to see. Not as much as some people apparently who are not satisfied with just one satellite dish.I never cease to be amazed by the complexity of television technology that manages to produce so much crap for broadcast. Cheyenne prefers the great outdoors.
A glimpse of saltwater there in the far distance under the tree:
You're never far from tidal waters in the Keys which makes the prospect of oil in the water very interesting. We do produce a great of trash, as a society and it's not all in the water.
With some natural beauty to make up for it.
Ocean glimpse anyone? Perhaps Rapunzel lives up there.
Scenes from Sugarloaf Key.
This is Sugarloaf Boulevard looking towards Highway One.
Looking south, and it's worth remembering the speed limit here is 30mph. It's a long straight wide road too which makes it hard to go so slowly but this is a heavily walked area, especially in winter.
Green Turtle Lane crosses the boulevard for another block.
A suitable mail box for the street.
These lots are larger than usual in the Lower Keys and much more wooded than you might expect.
And at the other end of the street another salt water glimpse. Not all the homes are of modest proportions. I liked the modest proportions of the mailbox by contrast.
To me these suburban homes represent the best of Florida Keys life these days, quiet neighborhoods, easy access to the water and lots of greenery. I would rather not have to trade my suburban home for a life in the crowded confines of Old Town Key West. I think it is hard for newcomers to the Keys to figure there is anywhere worth living quite so much as Key West itself. The pity of suburban living is the dependence on infernal combustion.