Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tropical Storm Ana

It's been a few days that stuff has been churning in the Atlantic basin, though finally this morning I noticed the National Hurricane Center has upgraded an on-again, off-again depression and called it a tropical storm. The yellow blob to the left of the map is an "area of disorganized cloudiness" according to the National Hurricane Center, but from where I'm sitting it looks organized enough and very wet:
Of course this is my weekend off work, in my alternating life style, so we shall be staying indoors, not melting and wondering why it's so dark inside our little house. In fact the little red cross marked "THREE" is much more interesting on the hurricane tracking chart. Checking my link "Hurricane Center" on the left hand side of the page, Low Number 3 shows potential to wreak much more havoc on Florida than does little Tropical Storm Ana at this stage. Even though, if disorganized weather can bring wind, thunder and copious rain, enough to wash the car...
...then a Tropical storm has the capacity to inflict damage. I find people often get too hung up on the diagrams and the projected paths and all the science of hurricane prognostication. Anyway it's all too early to tell, but this is a reminder that this really is hurricane season and even though the Pacific Basin is up to the letter G (Guillermo) we are still only looking at Ana. As my buddy Robert says, this year, so far it's the Pacific Basin's turn to be Nature's kicking boy. Personally I like the respite from watering...

...even though this is the time of year the garden is fallow. Hurricanes or not we are humans and we have made plans, my wife and I and we have five Earth Boxes ready for planting, after Hurricane Season. From her lips to God's ear.


Florida Highway 24 runs straight as a die for twenty eight miles (42 kilometers) from the hamlet of Otter Creek on US Highway 19. The road runs between massive forests and looks far more lonely and isolated than US Highway One. This sense of isolation makes Cedar Key seems like more of an island than any of the island sin the Florida Keys, and even though the distance run isn't that far, for some reason it feels much further as the car purrs along well over the 55mph (90km/h) speed limit.
The sense of isolation here is accentuated when you learn the story of the Rosewood massacre, a story that was fictionalized in a film titled Rosewood, based on the story that took place in the early 20th century. There is no sign of the African American town destroyed by rioting whites who razed the community in response to an alleged rape of a local white woman by a black man. Google maps shows Rosewood and Sumner, the location of the sawmill that was a base for the attacks, but neither place appears along the Highway. A colleague of mine from Gainesville reminded me this was the location of the incident and he says there is a plaque marking the incident. At the time I drove by I had no clue. Cedar Key is actually a group of islands apparently, and the whole place is on the end of a short causeway from the mainland. The city is 2 square miles in size (5 sq/km) of which half is apparently water,the other half is a grouping of sandy hummocks. That half the city is water is easy to believe as you approach the town.
Clamming is the fishery around here and there is lots of real, commercial fishing underway. The local boats, designed to navigate the shallow, reed filled estuaries around cedar key look very unusual to my eye. They have steep pointed bows where the helmsman stands, and right behind him is the large outboard motor which drives these contraptions through the water. The back of the boat is dedicated to fishing equipment:
The view across the waters surrounding cedar Key is completely different to what I am used to in the Keys, the waters are protected by all the outcroppings of land and marsh, and on a sunny day the view is quite delightful:There is one road onto main island and from there one can take a turn into downtown or a right turn into the hinterland of the island. The streets are definitely not tropical looking:
The highest point in the city is 28-feet (9 meters) and once included a prehistoric burial ground. Nowadays the city cemetery is a charming, oak and pine covered hill:The view from the cemetery is worth a stop as from here one can look back across the water at the houses of the little city:
They make viewing the inland waters around the city easy with a massive new boardwalk across the marshes:It was hot as blazes out there, and no trees grow in the water so we found relief at the far end where a few scrub palms were growing out of the sand. I can only imagine how popular this place must be in the winter months: My wife's shoulder was in the early stages of recovery from her surgery and she was walking around with a big furry sling which didn't help keep her at all cool. One of the least appealing parts of Cedar key for me is the color of the water. It looks pretty enough in pictures but the water is actually a dark muddy color form all the tannin and if, like me, swimming in the relatively clear Keys waters is appealing, this estuarine Gulf water color is off putting.
It's nice to see that the magnificent views around here carry their own blight, just like at home. I've heard people wonder why abandoned boats don't get removed and the problem is one of cost. Its expensive to remove them because then they have to get cut up and put in a landfill. Then some other dork abandons a boat and the never-ending cycle continues. It's also time consuming because the authorities can't just grab the boats, they are private property and there is a long and involved process to have them declared abandoned. So there they sit:Not all boats are dumped though:
I quite liked the look of this round house especially as lawn care seems likely to be at a minimum:
For a town of a thousand inhabitants cedar key must have some pretty capable grant writers volunteering with the city.The level of public works infrastructure is quite surprising. There was some label about death and destruction and hazardous behavior to do with this structure. We ignored them.
We took a quick gallop back to the car, cranked the air conditioning and cooled off with a quick tour through the cemetery.And from here we headed into the bright lights of the City of Cedar Key.