Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big Pine Winter 1

I am continuing to rediscover the back woods that have lain dormant in my life all summer long. I heard on the radio of snowstorms in the upper Midwest which would have one wonder if winter is coming early this year. In the Keys the weather continues cool and sunny and dry, so much so my padded liner seems to be a permanent insert in my riding jacket.Leaving work at six in the morning is tough for one of my feeble constitution, a temperature reading of less than 70 degrees (18C) seems entirely inadequate to someone who doesn't enjoy feeling cold on a motorcycle. For Cheyenne on the other hand the brisk temperatures are just what she ordered, so we take to the woods after a long hot summer of short walks and a lot of shade seeking. A few photos next of the manchineel ("man-chin- kneel") tree, as it is known in the Caribbean. Around here they call it, rather more prosaically as the poisonwood. Black blotches on the silvery bark give it away. They remind me of ink drops spreading on blotting paper, a simile that dates me a bit in a world that probably doesn't use blotting paper anymore. getting the sap of this tree on your skin will give you a nice rash. Standing under it in the rain has a similar effect. I got my first taste of the poisonwood a couple of months ago when I brushed the leaves away with my forearm after a heavy rain and my arm went all red itchy and pustular with big wet blisters and the mess stuck around for weeks, freaking out my colleagues at work.Considering how few actual perils there are in the back woods of the Florida Keys, rattlesnakes and cottonmouth poisonous snakes by repute, the poisonwood tree deserves a fair bit of attention as these buggers are everywhere.
Big Pine Key is very attractive to Cheyenne not least because Key deer hit by cars crawl into the bushes to die and she finds their bones. She tells me they are delicious.
These pine woods are a delight for my dog.
Aside from the dreaded poisonwood tree I rather like the mixture of palms and pines that grow side by side. The sunlight is bright and crisp this time of year, and though I miss the puffy white clouds of summer the deep blue sky makes a pleasant contrast with the greenery below.
Vultures circling looking for dead meat.
These back woods walks are a complete contrast with what one expects to find in the Keys, and an hour or two spent alone with Cheyenne out here sets me up to go into work in the evening and deal with another night of crazy ass 9-1-1 callers.
I can't help but wonder if Cheyenne compares this to her former life, whatever it was.
Rainy season has been over long enough that many of the submerged trails are drying out, making my Crocs a bit less essential for these walks.
Laying on my back staring up at the sky wishing for a cloud to come by to break up the blue monotony.
On Coco Drive Cheyenne found a bony snack.
Then we were back out in paved civilization and Cheyenne took the time for a last quick look around before getting back in the car.
Big Pine Key, an island made for dog walking.