Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hiding In The Shrubbery

The reality of a the worst drought in 80 years is that we are enjoying perfect weather.
When I say "perfect" I mean weather that feels perfect to someone used to living in the tropics. Anyone used to April in Chicago stepping off a plane in South Florida might find the heat sudden and oppressive but for someone used to, and perhaps dreading the endless heat and humidity of August and September these days of clean crisp sunshine, dry heat and a cooling breeze makes the weather perfect.I lived through a prolonged drought in California in the 1980s and I unabashedly loved every minute of it. Drought in Santa Cruz meant winters were short and mild, it meant motorcycle commuting was comfortable for longer and summers were hotter and less foggy. I reveled in the drought.Drought in South Florida is not quite the same thing. Rains here are dramatic interludes in summer days and nights. Rain comes and goes and doesn't hang around, usually, as a form of endless drizzle. Rain refreshes and restores life to trees whose leaves are drooping. Rain is welcome.Cheyennes answer to the drought is plonk herself down in the shade and rest frequently. Standing admiring the views on Royal Street I heard my dog rustle and disappear. She found dried leaves and deep shade under one of the tropical palms that seem drought resistant in the extreme where deciduous trees are dropping their leaves prematurely.
Cheyenne's biggest annoyance at the drought is the lack of muddy pools to wallow in. Bad for her, good for me, her designated bath attendant.

Truman Waterfront

If you were to park yourself on a street corner in Key West to watch the world go by not too much time later, you would see pretty much every car and scooter on the island go by. It's hard to convince people who live on the mainland that life in the Lower Keys really is different, aside from the obvious tourist-attracting behavior, not least because there are not many people and even less land. It wasn't three weeks ago I took a picture of Baron Samedi riding his bicycle n Whitehead Street and here he was napping under a ficus tree on Truman Annex. Had he not been asleep I might have been tempted to try to start a conversation with him. As it was this little bird tried to start a conversation first with Cheyenne and when the dog got tired of getting dive bombed and came to me for protection the bird (a noisy jay perhaps?) started in on me. I figured maybe we were encroaching on a nest or something so Cheyenne and I backed the car up but it was no good. we were told in no uncertain terms we had to leave. So we did.Things are coming to a pretty pass when even the wildlife is getting stressed out and aggressive. The thing is the recent census issued preliminary numbers showing Monroe County, alone among Florida's 67 counties lost population. The State is up to almost 20 million people, but Monroe County has lost about ten percent of it's population and we're down to 73,000. The good news is that unemployment is ridiculously low here, less than seven percent.The bad news is that's because when people lose their jobs they tend to leave town and head north, Ocala and North Carolina being the preferred destinations, if not a relative's couch somewhere.Mind you, if there are that many fewer people in the county that just means you'd have to spend less time sitting on the street corner waiting for them all to pass you by.

The Things People Do

On my walks around town I find it important not to forget to look up from time to time, rather in the manner of the hero in a horror movie who forgets to check the rafters for the lurking monster, clearly visible to the riled up audience. In my more prosaic world, looking up yields pretty views.There have been a few rain showers lately, enough to refresh momentarily but not enough to really soak the soil. I am looking forward to dramatic dark summer afternoons of wind and sudden heavy downpours. I will probably regret saying that by the time they arrive.I like to disguise myself in a brightly colored shirt as a tourist, not easy to do when walking a large dog very much at home on the streets of the Southernmost City. These are not disguised persons, they are genuine visitors enjoying a Key West Diary view of the city:Looking down Ann Street I saw a solitary plastic beer glass sitting ion the middle of the road. I started to have a Victor Meldrew Moment muttering to myself "I don't believe it," but of course I did believe it even though it was early afternoon. I suppose in the grand scheme of things a misplaced glass of beer is no big deal.Nevertheless I could not help but ask myself, how the devil did it get forgotten there of all places?