Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Friends And Food

We had a party to celebrate a birthday and it was another opportunity to realise how pleasant it is to live in the Keys. Rebecca contemplating the meaning of carol's birthday:My wife has an astonishing capacity for making friends. Growing up in California she had tons of friends over the course of the years and she works really hard at maintaining those connections. She corresponds with friends from college, former co-workers in various law firms she worked in and so forth. Kathy masked by the light ( I hate using the flash even when I should) and Jan lounging in my reading chair:Jan rides a BMW, a slight lapse in judgement, made better because it is a 30 year old RT airhead with full touring fairing and bags from that era. When we moved permanently to Key West a dozen years ago and started again, my wife spent a few years in despair. We lived on a boat and old timers viewed us as transients, people likely to leave at the drop of a hat. People come and go so much around here that one doesn't want to forge a bond with people obviously not here for the duration. Lucy, always a bright spark and a source of hilarity at any gathering (Jan's wife):Things changed suddenly when we moved off the boat and into a house. Then my wife got her teaching job, a welcome break from the rigor of the legal profession and friendships started to blossom. Steve a fellow teacher:And Jean, not a teacher at all but a healer: I found myself sucked in to a circle of people whose lives in the Keys were an expression of the pleasure of every day things. They enjoyed their work, they took their leisure time seriously, they seemed free of gross judgements and they take people as they find them. Carol got sparklers on her "cake" a healthy invention of yogurt and fruit.When I find myself at these gatherings I give thanks that I live here, in the shadow of my wife's social skills and surrounded by people who bring more laughter into our lives than we seem to be able to dish out. Lucy and Rebecca share some thrilling news:

We spent some time on the deck enjoying the breeze and the dying light and a second rate sunset (we tend to get fussy about the quality of sunsets down here). We sat indoors later and talked about the height of the new school buildings, camping at Fort Jefferson (we have to do that again before too long) and absent friends. It can be hard to make a circle of friends in a transient town but it can be done. Especially if you happen to be married to my wife.

Summer Clouds

I think it was Roberta, a former Keys resident who dropped me a line mentioning how much she likes summer clouds over the Keys. So, I thought, here are a few.The summer clouds are building in intensity. At work Saturday night we heard thunder over key West and expected a downpour which never came. Summer thunderheads are impressive things, rising vertically up into the sky and spreading out like a mushroom cap at the top.The rain they produce can be impressive too, sheets of it starting out with big fat drops and gathering in intensity as the cold winds die down and the rain falls like a leaden sheet. It makes for great drama and variety to break up the continuous sunny days. The photographer Clyde Butcher calls them Florida mountains a term I like very much. He stands up to his waist in the muck of the Florida Everglades to get his pictures. Me I stand there and take a picture in relative comfort and think my thoughts.The winds are still strong out of the southeast and the clouds are scudding across the sky like they're in a hurry to get somewhere. I guess these clouds are a preview of coming attractions. I hope this weird dry hot weather isn't paving the way for some weird wacky hurricane weather this summer. That might suck.

Duval Street

It was last winter that I first tasted Magic Hat beer at an event that included The Porch bar pouring a few of it's excellent choices in beer. I tried the Magic Hat- how could I not with a name like that?Then I saw a whole truck dedicated to the beer charging up Duval Street. I guess The Porch is selling out of their stuff, which isn't surprising, as it is quite strong and delicious. This next location is a parking black spot and I include it here as a public service. people get towed for parking here after hours. Metered parking isn't that expensive but getting towed from here after hours will end up costing you hundreds of dollars.This is the corner of Olivia and Duval but there are lots of locations around town clearly labeled. Park here after hours and you will bet towed. So pay attention. I admired this guy for not riding and talking on the phone at the same time. Indeed he looked quite comfortable in the shade.This kid was drinking and driving, but not alcohol, though he was one handed.I wonder about parents who ride bare headed and have their kids wear helmets. You are obliged by law to wear a helmet if under the age of 21 in Florida, but it seems to me it sets an odd example if the parent is telling the kid to do as he says not to do as he does. There again I'm not a parent, I just have to live with the results of their training.People who ride powered two wheelers and are fussy about wearing all the protective gear all the time would have a shit fit in Key West. But I don't think anyone in Key West is losing any sleep over it.

Kemp Channel North

The sun sparkling on the waters of Kemp Channel, named I believe for the biologist credited with Kemp's Ridley turtle discovery. His body is in the Key West cemetery.In this shot below looking up the channel in the foreground one can see a stripling of a mangrove rising up above the waters. It looks feeble and frail but this is how these tenacious bushes reclaim the waters for themselves and their progeny.
A while back I wrote an essay discussing just that: Mangroves
and their life cycle. They are amazing plants and it's worth a look if you don't live in close proximity to them.And slowly they grow, poking their long red fingers out into the water and digging in. Actually they are a pain in the ass too, as they have a tendency not to stop when you need them to. My dock is getting rather overgrown by them and their red roots. Any road in the Florida Keys looks like this, mangroves asphalt and blue sky.For some reason it never bore me this view.

Old Town

I stood and watched a caravan of motorcycles go by and I wondered what they were carrying in their trailers. They weren't camping for I passed their elaborate machines and gear at a guest house. When I was much younger I had the habit of overloading my motorcycle for every trip I took. At some point I figured I wanted to enjoy the ride and hauling half my life around on the back of the motorcycle was getting in the way of that. So I cut back and the ride got more fun and the living while on the road got less cluttered. Of course for some people living less cluttered can be quite the disaster. This building got condemned by the city. As far as I could tell in passing it is still condemned and the building appears unoccupied. It was owned by a local non profit that rehabbed homes and rented them for the low income population but things went sour amid clouds of scandal and the net result was a period of chaos and uncertainty which was a shame as the program did a lot of good for a long while.This very tall tree must have a genus and name etc... etc...but I'm buggered if I know what they are. I just like it's unusual look in Key West.This guest house looked particularly lovely with this mixture of colors under a bright blue sky.Key West, looking good as usual.