Monday, May 2, 2011

Across The Water

One looks out across the water in this land of no hills, no rivers, no lakes, no great towering forests, no granite cliffs or rolling farmland, and one sees a wide open body of tidal water, rimmed by green mangroves and here and there a little house on stilts. After Hurricane Katrina wrecked New Orleans there was some discussion about rebuilding the Lower Ninth on stilts. It made sense, they said as another flood could easily happen lacking the will to pay for an build proper levees. No, cried the critics, the guardians of New Orleans architecture at all costs. Houses on stilts they moaned, look like cocktail olives on sticks. That's as may be but they work very well in flood prone lands. The tides are quite ferocious between the islands and with a full moon or a new moon (when there is almost no moon at all in the night sky) the waters come and go at speed. One has to wonder what rising sea levels will do to our neighborhoods. Island nations like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and the islands of the South Pacific Palau, Nauru and Vanuatu are acutely aware of their vulnerable geography. Here in the Keys we are less absorbed by a scientific theory given little credence by our short sighted leaders.

I have adopted the long range position that I will probably be dead before the seas rise that much and in the meantime I will do my best to enjoy and record this moment in these islands relatively brief history of human habitation, and will count myself privileged to have done so.
I like the rich colors and uniformity of mangroves, our natural defenders against tidal surges. And out there among them one sees, from time to time, reminders...
...that even out here in the lonely stretches of back country one is never really alone on these slivers of land.

Caroline Street

I liked this picture of folks chatting in the Caroline Street Music shop, keeping company with a lovely double bass.This mastiff looking creature was hanging at Harpoon Harry's, properly shaded, and I wanted to meet it but Cheyenne had other ideas and took off up Margaret Street.We passed a couple of expensive and modified Harleys and I noticed the tag on one of them. Har har harty har har. I rarely see a vanity tag that makes any sense. If he does ride wasted his tag will make it easy for a passer by to call it in which would be a good thing. I don't think drinking and driving is a particularly good subject for a nudge and a wink. Does an expensively styled ride look better for a silly vanity plate?

This looks like a place that I might have to be dragged to by my wife. I know she will find presents in a place like this, stash them at home and whip them out at appropriate gatherings to gasps of wonderment. She enjoys shopping like that.

I saw this rain barrel at Finnegan's Wake, the Irish pub. I hadn't seen it previously and I thought it was a sign perhaps that water conservation is becoming fashionable in this the worst drought recorded in 80 years.

My own cistern has dried up for the first time in almost four years, since I had it cleaned and had a few leaks repaired. Luckily we still have the aqueduct to fall back on, though a bit of rain would be nice.

Old Summerland Bridge

My wife and I took the skiff out the other day and even though it got us out to our swimming hole in Newfound Harbor there was barely enough power to get the boat up on a plane. I rather think the new cables are too long and don't allow the carburettors to open fully to take advantage of the twenty five whole horsepower of our finicky Yamaha outboard. we shall see. Meanwhile the salt waters around here are warming up enough that even a local will find them warm enough to swim in. So it is with a spot of frustration I find myself wandering the mangroves on hot sunny afternoon.Cheyenne enjoyed herself as always, most particularly because this little trail at the top of Niles Road on Summerland Key is short and sweet and apparently full of good things to smell.I looked out across the waters wondering if I might soon dare to ride the high seas. I am getting antsy about going swimming.Cheyenne likes low tide at the old bridge. While I'm looking longingly out at the water wondering where my formerly-20-mile-per-hour skiff is......she sits in the shade under the bridge and thinks dog thoughts.

Home And Garden

A teacher's life can be quite hectic between Monday and Friday and some days i get a little guilty as I enjoy one more day off or my usual afternoon at home before I go in for my night shift. Layne spent a good part of Saturday afternoon napping, her precious iPhone never too far away..She is counting down the days to summer vacation which starts in mid June in Monroe County, and then there will be weeks of free time, time to allow kids to be at home to bring in the harvest(!). Very 19th century, I'm sure. Cheyenne joined in the favorite family pastime.It takes a fair amount of time to keep watering the plants this drought season. It's hot (95 degrees) and dry out there.Our tomatoes are still producing a fair bit of fruit and I have had mixed success keeping the iguana away. They have torn up my eggplants and bell peppers most annoyingly despite my best efforts with Neem oil and garlic powder repellent.
The plants Therese bought, on her visit from Paris, are flourishing. The jasmine flowered and faded but the vines are strong.Heavy rain drowned the bougainvillea but I am notorious for killing off those hardy plants. I could never grow them in California where habitually they flourish.The iguanas seem to have made a bed out of the flowers. I am patrolling with my pellet gun but they are the very devil to catch napping. This lot are doing quite nicely. I have fresh head of lettuce growing in the Earthbox and so far I have kept it iguana-free.
I hope Therese comes back next year for some more plantings.

City Views

I remember the vocal debate power companies had about the dangers of PCBs in their equipment. It seems odd now to imagine that anyone could oppose getting rid of that nasty kind of chemical.Even as our leaders today maneuver to defang the Environmental Protection Agency. What a banana republic they want to make of us! I don't think a return to the pollution of the Great Lakes, the rivers catching fire and so on and so forth would be to the people's benefit. These days fracking is the big pollution concern and the more I read about that the less I like it. Key West homes look tiny from up in the air.Looking across the roof of the Grinnell Street Parking Garage I could see the Steam Plant condos in the former electrical power station. Penthouse views for 1.6 million dollars I believe.And there is that flight path, right over the middle of the city with a plane load of visitors coming to town.You can see why they'd be coming too.Palm trees, turquoise waters, breezes and eternal sunshine.