Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oil Still Spilling

I got home after a trip to the metropolis and discovered in my absence life has been continuing in the Keys. Including a visit to the island s by Grand Poobahs of various importance from the company that wants to be known as Beyond Petroleum. They held a sudden press conference apparently, not aware of the coconut telegraph that allows everyone to know everything and found themselves taking questions from concerned citizens worried about their livelihoods. The paper doesn't report how that went down but probably not well, as corporate representatives rarely have to mix it up with the people who are fearful of getting the actual taste of how Beyond Petroleum will flavor their lives. The good news is the Loop Current, which would bring oil to the Keys, is sliding south and a wide gap is opening up between the oil and the current. The bad news is Louisiana is getting screwed again. The fact that the Coastguard and local officials are talking about how to protect our shoreline is good but creepy. That all the corporate players involved are trying to pass the buck according to the paper is even creepier. They are sounding their own death knell it seems to me as they have absolutely no idea how to behave down here where we live on the frontlines.

Bridge Fishing

From November 2007 this essay on fishing which, as will become apparent is an activity about which I know nothing. I had lost track but it seems there are about 1260 essays logged on this blog from when I started in Summer 2007. I had a few to choose among for these replays. Here's the thing: because I live in the Keys I am supposed to enjoy fishing: but I don't. I have fished, I have felt the wiggle of the captured critter on both hook and spear, I have whacked fish on the head, I have filleted them (inexpertly I might add) and the whole exercise fills me with horror. Beyond all the blood guts and scales I find the notion that I should spend hours of my precious life staring idiotically into the deep blue sea hoping to pit my wits against a fish to be...grotesque. Worse yet the fish might prove beyond doubt they are smarter than I. And my final argument against casting a line is that in the Keys there are numerous excellent fish shops that sell 'em fresh and raw, and even the most hopeless hole-in-the-wall has to work very hard indeed to make a hash of a plate of fish inevitably cooked by frying grilling or blackening. This enigmatic chair disappeared from the old bridge connecting Big Pine Key to the misnomered West Summerland Key, a few days after I photographed it. Damned if I know how they got it there...Just another fishing mystery, I suppose. And believe me when I say that I am very much alone in my despair at the entire culture of fishing. To live in the Keys and not to care to fish is like a priest living in a brothel, not only is it a stupid waste of time in your neighbor's eyes it is damned near immoral. And I even have a skiff at my dock, which I take out all the time! Just to go swimming? How bizarre!
Its a sad day when I have to haul the boat out of the water, but its just too cold to go swimming anymore, with air temperatures under 80 degrees and water temperatures barely holding at 75, though they both feel far lower. The boat is now on the trailer enjoying my mechanical attentions before it gets set aside for the next few months. Were I an angler I would be reduced, as it were, to fishing from a bridge; as it is I'm just going to miss wandering around the back country and swimming in the tepid, clear waters of the Keys.
Driving down the Overseas Highway if one can take one's eyes off the turquoise waters, there are simply tons of people fishing from the bridges formed by the old road which was created from Flagler's original Oversea Railroad bridges which are now approaching their one hundredth birthdays, and remain as solid as ever despite the State's fearfulness.
Monroe County works at keeping the near shore waters clean, providing containers for unneeded mono filament line which kills birds, fish and mammals when abandoned in the waters, as it usually is. There are also lots of trash cans placed everywhere a needy fisherman might want to use one. They don't prevent trash from ending up along the road, but the trucks which haul garbage from Key West to the mainland since the incinerator (that produced electricity from waste as a bonus) was shut down in favor of a sweetheart deal to a garbage hauler, let fly a whole lot more trash along the road from their inadequately covered trailers than fishermen dropping wrappers and cans.
Florida residents, as far as I can figure, don't need a license to fish saltwaters from a structure and locals do love to chase fish from these old bridges. You could call it a family sport. Some people are elaborate anglers, planting tents, hanging bright gas lanterns, sitting in chairs, sipping (sipping?) beer and reviewing the state of the world. Others head out with a bait net and lots of hope. All they need is a little help from their friends.At night their lights give them the appearance of campers huddled round the campfire,telling impossible fishing stories, possibly the best part of the whole standing around waiting for a bite thing. By day women bend over parapets revealing their lack of coverage, men prop their guts on the same concrete barriers, and families who fish together frequently, it seems, stick together. Its all terribly jolly.However the evidence of the lack of casting abilities of the many, droops from the overhead cables that carry electricity up and down the Keys.
It depends on your point of view whether these strands remind you of Spanish Moss or worse. For me it depends on my mood but I do enjoy seeing the spoons twirling in the sunset winking at me as I motorcycle by.

The sun drops on the end of another day, and aside from the few anglers out in the cold front breezes of a crystal clear night, commuters zip by on the new bridges, the odd motorcycle rumbles by and the tide comes running in bringing with it who knows what.
Only the fishers of fish know, lucky them. I wish I had it in me to be one of them.