Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Summerland Wasteland

I was out cycling and came across this innocuous little street completely by accident.I must have ridden past it a dozen times and never noticed it:An old road, barely more than a track that runs through the mangroves is meat and drink to me, a mouse for a mouser, the source of the Nile for Speake and Burton. I had to go see what was what. Trash was to be my portion, my reward for my curiosity:

In addition to carpeting, vehicle interiors, wheels and tires, garden ornaments and bed springs there was about abandoned in the bushes, lying on it's side in a most undignified manner:Someone with a can of spray paint had taken the time to describe in some graphic detail how much better he was at certain acts than any woman could possibly be. It was left to me, not one to ignore a challenging thought, to wonder how lonely this Summerland man must be, to find himself just 25 miles from the fleshpots of Key West and reduced to this to get attention:

I give him points for creativity, I daresay I have never seen anything quite so "artistic" done with grout, but I have to wonder at the sanity of a man who wanders out into the mangroves to express himself so forcefully, in so lonely and despairing a manner. Happily there were barricades to deeper penetration into the woods as it were, by this lonely wielder of grouting mixture:The trail wound it's way under a leaden sky, a muddy rocky trail underfoot and an unpromising sky overhead, full of gray foreboding:Taken on foot the trail seemed long, but it's probably a half mile, easily ridden on a bicycle to a deep square pool of what appears to be freshwater, possibly an old quarry. The building in the distance sits alongside Highway One:There were signs of trash all the way:Until I turned a corner and came across the treasure trove!This looked like an innocent wonderland to me, a place that would have ignited the imagination of a 13 year old me. I parked the bicycle and took a stroll:The parental cry of frustration that rings across the Keys is that there is nothing for children to do in these islands. I have no children, I rejoice in that newly minted status described as "Child Free" yet in my memory I keep the seeds of a very active outdoor childhood. This collection of unused concrete pipes would have served me very well 38 years ago.Upon my arrival at home in Italy from my English boarding school Diego and I (in the stylish hat) would have broken loose from the grip of his parents and my older sisters and we would have made slingshots for ourselves out of Y-shaped tree branches, bicycle inner tubes and patches of leather begged from the local shoe maker.And we would have run through this splendid array of trash turning it into a wonderland worthy of the multi-colored plastic Ronald MacDonald. It even has its own enemy dirigible (the very innocent Fat Albert checking for intruders in the Straits of Florida): I must be bacterium resistant after spending so much of my youth running around most unsanitary places. We had a blast. I was however alone on Summerland Key that afternoon free to wander and wonder. I have no doubt someone will be able to identify this reeking lump of rust:Or this old trailer, I wonder how and why it found it's way out here to dissolve slowly into a pile of rust alongside a load of roofing tiles:Of course I had to climb up and enjoy the view from atop the rusty heap. I may be 51 years old but I still feel some sort of kinship with the little boy pictured above. The view across the mangroves was hardly startling: There was more artwork to admire among the ruined fort of my imagination:While I was amusing myself taking pictures and enjoying the view someone was sneaking up on me. He turned tail and scooted as soon as I spotted him. Perhaps he was the author of the rude scribblings I found earlier. Or perhaps, even more titillating, he thought I was the author the doodles and he turned tail through the bushes to escape my horrid intent.I made my way back through the trash to the start of this little adventure:But when I looked up the street and spotted his broad brimmed hat the last I saw was the mystery cyclist pedaling hard to get away from the weird dude photographing rubbish.Even the trash piled up in people's yards.