Thursday, December 16, 2010

Frigid December

I haven't stopped commuting to work by Bonneville just because the temperature has dropped and stayed down below 60 degrees.I wear my mesh jacket liner and a sweatshirt and my heavy winter elk skin roper gloves and a balaclava under my helmet, all because the sun, though bright, carries no heat. And the morning ride home in the cold damp air feels like an outdoor meat locker at six in the morning.The colors are washed out at dusk when you look away from the golden sunsets. This was Highway One behind me when I stopped on my way to work Sunday night.Dispatching has been relatively quiet as the cold weather tends to keep people indoors. Alcohol fueled stupidity continues of course, and as one officer put it, the numbers of domestic disturbances go up as the frozen southernmost residents huddle indoors sharing their socks and wishing for heating in this Dickensian spell of discomfort. What else is there to do but drink and allow your relationship's resentments to ride to the surface? This was the view from my desk at work as the latest infernal cold front rolled over Key West. The Bonneville is the speck at the bottom of the picture. Yes I did ride to work despite the promise of 40 mile per hour winds, rain and lows around 47 degrees: It was a promise maintained first thing Tuesday morning when I got in the car to take Cheyenne to the mangroves for her early morning walk.
I can read metric on my Fusion's display. This is for Jack riepe, man of the world:
We got a call at work from a freaked out woman on a boat. She could hear screaming and noises outside on the docks. She felt the need to whisper for she was terrified someone outside was ready to do her harm. At first Noel thought she was alone on her boat but she said her boyfriend was peering out a porthole to see what was going on. She was, it turns out, a visitor from North Dakota of all places (home of the country's only state owned bank, and the only state in the Lower Forty Eight that has a balanced state budget-statism works!). However she had no idea which marina she was in, what slip she was at or the name of her boat. Noel took the call and with the patience of a saint elicited which marina but not which dock: only that they parked their red Ford Mustang (rental car!) at the end of the dock. The man was still screaming for help, she said. I sent four officers to find out what was happening because as luck would have it we were going through a quiet moment, as the bars had closed. They paired up and started walking the docks at four o'clock in the morning. The woman was too scared to hang up the phone and too scared to talk in a voice Noel could hear. Keith and I sat like statues while Noel tried to decipher what she was saying. God knows what she thought would happen if she spoke in a normal voice, buried as she was in the bowels of her boat. But in the end all was well. Sergeant Blasberg advised me laconically over the radio a man was plucked from the water and returned to his boat safely. That was all I knew but as a former long time live aboard let me suggest that coming home drunk is probably not a great idea as people have drowned falling off the docks which are too high out of the water for a fully dressed intoxicated unfit man to climb back onto. It may be ridiculously not cold around here for some people but if the freaked out tourist from North Dakota hadn't called he would have died most probably. Even the herons don't much seem to like the weather. Perhaps I'm anthropomorphizing but he didn't look happy:I am glad Cheyenne is the excuse that I have to drive the car in the cold during the day:Keys Energy has been working on the bases of the cement power poles that live in the waters adjacent to the highway. I guess they are off work for a bit, perhaps for the holidays, perhaps for the cold.My imagination may be working overtime but I thought this rocky foreshore at low tide looked like a frozen snowfield. I have tried to stay out of the frigid north wind and when I find shelter from the breeze the sun is pleasantly warm. But the wind chill is the killer factor these days.
Cheyenne has been quite frisky in the cool temperatures but I have a hard time keeping up. My wife got her a new soft blanket and now she doesn't want to get off it, so I have to drape it on her bed to keep her happy. I'd like to think she's fed up with the cold too.
I was walking in the piled up seaweed along the beach and I realized how pleasant and warm it is now that the cold crisp air has dried it all out. Usually it's a stinking soggy mess, mouldering away on the beach, washed up by the currents and wind storms.In this weather the soft warm seaweed felt great. I am too lazy for cold weather. I forgot to dig out my second pair of jeans and I took to the road in shorts. "I'll be fine," I told my impatient dog, who wanted to get out of the house. I wasn't. The temperatures by the weekend are supposed to be back up to 70 (20C) by day and 65 (17C) by night and that will much better. Some people seem to take the cold in stride and even with a strong north wind blowing there were some eccentrics taking to the water in a not terribly seaworthy craft:I was sitting on the ground with my back to the car in the sun reading Motorcyclist magazine and Cheyenne was sitting next me having completed her check of the area when a car parked across the way drove up alongside me. I thought they wanted directions- left to Key West, right to marathon seemed easy enough. No they were begging. No money no gas and no prospects, down from Alabama for some reason. I don't typically carry money when I go walking Cheyenne so I wished them luck and wondered what they thought they were doing. If you don't have a job Up North, coming down here to look for work is crazy. There is none, even though we have openings always for dispatchers, it takes six months to get hired, a further year to train and even then you have to able to sit still for 12 hours at a stretch all while getting yelled at by drunk tourists down the phone. It's not a job for everybody. The easier trades in the bars are all full up from what I've heard.I don't think the economy is recovering. I am surprised there are as many visitors as there are in the Keys.
I hope they keep coming and bringing money with them. And they can take the cold Arctic air back wherever it came from, thank you.