Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mangrove Stomp

This badly illuminated self portrait shows Cheyenne and I taking a walk through the mangroves under partly cloudy skies on the north section of Old County Road 939:It's pretty uneventful stuff for the most part, my outdoor life. I have discovered that Cheyenne is as much a misanthrope about dogs as I am about people. We each seem to enjoy each other's company just fine and though she is as polite as I try to be with strangers neither of us seems to feel the need for company. I have stopped making a point of taking her to the dog park in Key West. I looked aloft and there i saw Fat Albert keeping an eye on the world for us. We were not alone on Old County Road 939 on the sunny southern section the next day:I was walking the Sugarloaf Loop, a place I have photographed previously and this was such a beautiful winter's day I wanted to play with my camera and record some of it. I am lucky enough to work 12-hour shifts at the police department and when I am not called for overtime I get to wander these islands weekday afternoons when no one else is around.The day was a perfect winter mixture of sun, deep blue skies, a light cool breeze and everything was just perfect. Of course there should be drama to improve the story but some scruffy oiks Up North in Pennsylvania have compared my diary unfavorably with the plot of Seinfeld episode and that suits me just fine; my little life is about nothing at all these days.
The bright sun made for a day of contrasts and in an effort to create that rich polarized effect I dialed up the shutter speed on my little pocket Canon SX100. In the bad old days of film I had to grope around and attach a polarizing filter and twirl it around to get the right effect and I would only know if I got the right effect when the pictures came back, if the lab hadn't mucked them up. And here is what I saw the moment I took the picture of the canal debouching into the Straits of Florida, and I saw that it was good.The bridge offers a lovely splash of white in the three predominant color groups in the Keys: mangrove green, sky blue and cloud white, or in this case bridge white.
Cheyenne is feeling safe enough to wander off out of sight as she pursues snacks located deep in the mangroves. I had no idea where she was as I stood on top of the old road bridge and called her name. Soon enough....
It looks like summer doesn't it, dappled paths, green leaves and happy dog. Of course because this is the Florida Keys this sylvan scene wouldn't be complete with a cold one. Man proposes, God disposes as the old saying goes. I found the bottle as shown and I wasn't about to taste this particular Rolling Rock. Standing below the bridge one has to be amazed by the amount of effort that goes into sign posting the most obvious prohibitions. Beyond the sign, isn't the sky just a lovely shade of blue?
Cheyenne was wandering around having a grand time of it. I was entranced by the beauty of the day.
I was in such a benevolent mood I even chose to enjoy the free public art instead of getting grumpy about vandalism.I could have been on Duval 20 miles (30kms) away getting shit faced . This was I suppose a wasted afternoon for one looking for the better known Key West entertainments.
I had seen an Illinois tagged vehicle parked on the road at then entrance to the loop and a sole walker striding purposefully by was either a well-burnoosed member of Al Quaida or in fact the driver of the vehicle worried about the effects of the winter sunshine. A little bit of sunshine indeed, the road was burnished by the heat of the afternoon.Happily this disused roadway is closed to motorized traffic so Cheyenne was free to stomp about seeking shade at will.We wandered off the road for a while and found fishy debris lurking in the mangroves. Cheyenne snacked on unseen delights, i fiddled with the macro setting on my camera.
You have to give crabs credit - they lose claws at will and just keep on going. The middle of this part of Sugarloaf is a lagoon and as warm as it was and as inviting as the water looked it's going to be a few months before I'm ready to try swimming. And this place is just too muddy for my delicate tastes in swimming holes even in the heat of summer.
I never really have understood the purpose of the nicely paved loop road round the lagoon. There isn't enough land to do much developing though apparently they gave it the old college try. These trenches are all over the place cut in the solid rock of the Keys. They were designed to hold mosquito larval eating fish to make the marshes fit for human habitation in summer. One can hardly imagine the energy it took to build these things everywhere, but there they are, and along side them piles of spoil gravel that used to fill these trenches now built up into mounds that give a short photographer a slightly extended view across the mangroves.
We were barely half way into our walk but Cheyenne was resting comfortably in the shade even as my camera batteries died and my spares were secure in the car- for I was traveling light this hot afternoon.
The rest of our trek was thus undocumented, but it was a lovely afternoon in the Keys, for me and my dog.