Friday, June 11, 2010

Unseen Islamorada

My wife had a meeting at Coral Shores High School way up north in the Upper Keys. She needed a chauffeur.I enjoy driving Highway One so with dog and camera packed we set off one weekday afternoon to explore those reaches of the Keys close to the metropolis of Miami. The Monroe County School District is a complex organism spread over 110 miles of main road making it such that every service has to be in triplicate, a High School In Islamorada (Village of Pompousness), one in Marathon and one in Key West, and so on. Coral shores is home to the hurricanes we are told. They can keep them as far as I am concerned, though I suspect that in this case the storms in question may be something sporting.Cheyenne sometimes surprises me by taking off at a trot when we are out walking. This warm time of year she is rather more sedate and was not seduced by the fine track they have behind the main high school building. I only remembered to photograph this fine young Polish/Ukrainian/Uzbek dog walker long after she had walked away after complimenting me on my dog (and for fans of jack riepe fiction lifting her shirt for me). Growing up outside the United States and possibly being breast fed as an infant and not being exposed as it were to much advertising seems to have given me rather less obsessive interest in women's chests than that exhibited by red blooded natives. My loss I am sure. Any way check out these lovely trees.
I had stumbled upon a rather nice wooded little neighborhood it seems.It was serene and peaceful under the long shadows of the evening sun. I was looking forward to this backwater, a place I have driven by a million times and never had reason to stop.
In many respects the architecture here is the same as it is elsewhere in the Keys, stilt homes in danger of flooding, tropical foliage and narrow winding streets.
Islamorada (Village of Limestone Rock) is an incorporated town, one of four in the Keys created by an angry county residents who wanted more services and less taxes and accomplished that by creating a new bureaucracy. However they hire police services from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office which has a group of officers dedicated to the needs of the Village (of Angry Tax Payers).
I find it hard to imagine what a village in the Keys might be composed of, if not islands.
I want a leafy green arch just like this across the front of my house. I however have black thumbs and an uncooperative sea grape so my dream remains rather distant.
I do not want a pink house on the other hand as my pink Crocs seem to draw enough attention as it is.
I have enjoyed my many years sailing not least because I was never attracted to project boats. I like to be out on the water not fixing up some hopeless shell. I admire people who have the strength to build their visions, but I know my limitations. A Keys mailbox.
The proximity to the mainland is a blessing and a curse in my book. Obviously Miami International airport is probably an hour away from here, maybe a little more on a bad day, and Costco is similarly close. However the decision to go and face mainland traffic jams remains as distant as ever when one lives in these simpler islands on the Overseas Highway. The reverse though is also true and millions of Miami area residents think nothing of throwing their boats on their trailers and roaring down here to clog everything on weekends and holidays. The distance to get south of the Seven Mile Bridge puts off all but the most determined.
The other thing is that for all that Islamorada is a Village of Scattered Homes, it has no there, there. It's not like Key West (and a good thing too, it's rather more staid residents would likely argue) it has no historic basis other than being a stop along the Flagler railroad a hundred years ago. Urban planning is a remote concept in a town (of islands) run by retired free market executives and architecture takes a back seat to land values and ocean glimpses.Yet like any place overgrown with greenery and inhabited by people with an eye for the beauty and not the value of the thing, there are corners where color comes through.
I saw no chickens but did get the evil eye from this resident. Cheyenne was entirely satisfied and sat in a shady spot to get her breath back.
"Did you have fun?" my wife asked when she got out of the school. One look at Cheyenne and she had no need to ask.