Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gulf Side Marathon

I was looking out north of the city of Marathon and I was struck by the total lack of destinations for boaters looking for places to visit, perhaps an island to anchor out behind...The sign referred to those of us on land, not the water borne. Looking east there was nothing much, a small mangrove lump just offshore.To the west there was even less to see, a promontory beyond the boat ramp and that was all.Nevertheless people were out boating and presumably out fishing.I have crossed by boat from the southern tip of the mainland at Point Romano to Marathon, and outside of Florida Bay there is nothing to be seen but empty expanses of water.I'm glad for the complicated waterline of the Lower Keys, islands, sand bars, shoals and places to go and see. Otherwise I'd have to go fishing.

Little Jon's Coffee Shop

I have felt it an obligation on recent early morning forays into the big bad city of Key West to eat some certain breakfast food to write up a couple of breakfast reviews. Recently I had a sandwich at Kim's Kuban on the Boulevard and the other day I had one at Little Jon's on First Street near Flagler.This is a true hole in the wall operation with a serving window under an awning and a counter with a couple of stools. The coffee was hot and sweet and the sandwich came by a couple of minutes later. "Bacon egg and cheese with a medium con leche with one" (sugar) made up my million calorie order. The thing about Cuban breakfast sandwiches is that proper Cuban bread is made with lard which adds to the caloric effect. I only get this stuff as a rare treat and I thoroughly enjoy it when I do but a daily diet of this food will do one no good at all. On the other hand we see people lining up at fast food joints daily so perhaps...but then take a look:The bread is crusty and flaky on the outside the egg mixture in the middle isn't greasy and the coffee is hot. This is the breakfast of champions, and the presence of the day's newspaper is the icing on the cake. I brought mine from home, celebrating Tom Hambright's quarter century as Monroe County historian.Hambright is responsible among other things for the Today in History column and photo op on page two of the Citizen. I always read it right after the Voice's anonymous comments on the state of the county. He also provides researchers with historical tools from the library's resources and commentary when called for. That he looks a tad bit like actor Joss Ackland is just a tad bit confusing for me:In later life Ackland has played a fair few villainous roles which I don't think would be at all suited to the stately Mr Hambright. And then the con leche was gone and it was time to go back to reality.


"You must be Conchscooter"

Argh! Bugger that bloody dog, she gives me away every time. I kicked Cheyenne and ran for cover. The woman had a nerve walking up to me in broad daylight, throwing her arms around my neck and treating me like a long lost relative. She didn't really she just said hello with a bright smile.

Actually Sue turned out to be quite nice which I suppose is a requirement if you are going to operate a dust catcher store by the name of Bliss on Lazy Way Lane ( The woman, and her unseen husband, have balls of steel it turns out, not just because they say hullo to people in the street but by virtue of moving to Key West and starting up a new life and being wild and youthful and I feel old and carefully planned by contrast. I would no more throw myself on the tender mercies of commerce than I would launch myself from an airplane even with a parachute. Which goes to show we need more brave people in the world. Oddly enough there is a contingent of people, busy bodies decidedly not in the Key West mold, who think dogs shouldn't ride on scooters and only humans should have that pleasure. The theory is the dogs might get hurt. I discussed this at some length with Cheyenne, who it seems has developed some fascistic tendencies because, as a former pound dog, she paraphrased Mussolini to me (in English): Better a day as a scooter riding puppy than a hundred years as a fenced in dog. (Meglio un giorno da leone che cent'anni da pecora). Risk assessment is a lost art in fearful America. I blame television. Mind you riding a scooter while talking on the phone is likely to lead to a short life.I hope it was a happy life for the kid in the picture above chattering away. I guess we all have our risk tolerance set at different levels. I did some monumentally stupid things on motorcycles when I was young, but lacking cell phones we had to be stupid in different and irrational ways. A few years ago I read on the Modern Vespa Forum ( a spirited discussion about how unsafe it is to ride a scooter with only one hand on the handlebar. It was about then I gave up on forums, dispensers of silly advice and started my own blog.

I see lots of people ride bicycles and motorcycles with their hands off the bars but I am too chicken to do it even though I know the gyroscopic effect will keep me upright. One handed I can mange just fine. Call it irrational fear. Cheyenne has no fear at all when it comes to the smell of food. She stuck her head in the fence of this abandoned home, formerly owned by the Bahama Land Trust and waited for something good to happen. I should have kicked her again, but as I was joking about kicking her in the first place I cuddled her instead and told her to develop a little healthy fear even and especially when she smelled something good to eat.

Gone Fishing

Inasmuch as I am a non believer it might be surprising but I do enjoy the format of the old prayers and rituals in the Book of Common Prayer. I would like the well worn verses of the prayer for the dead read as I my ashes are scattered at sea. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust... When I was out at sea on my sailboat I was frequently reminded of the sailors ditty, said by some to be a prayer conceived by Irish fishermen in their coracles: Dear Lord, be good to me as your sea is so wide and my boat is so small..." a prayer that comes to mind when I look out and watch people standing on small boats drowning worms.In the event food were in short supply I'd like to think I could take to fishing as a tool for survival but the little fishing I have done in my life makes me quite certain that it is not a sport I ever feel I shall take up for sheer pleasure.Bobbing around in a small boat on a bumpy ocean seems like a mug's game to me, yet I am in a tiny minority among my neighbors, who live to fish, most of them. When I was a youngster I was taken trout fishing in Scottish streams one summer and I vividly recall plucking a sparkling trout from the water, with some adult assistance and landing the struggling fish which we killed and ate later that day. It seemed a long long time spent standing on a rive bank to pluck the bright living thing from the water to kill it and watch the sparkle leave it's skin as quickly as a light going out. I suppose I should be a vegetarian but it's not the eating I mind, quite the contrary, it's the standing around waiting for something to happen.The challenge of putting to sea in a modern coracle, dipping a hook and waiting for something to happen. That is what defeats me.And yet I find people in exquisite agony waiting for their next chance to come to the Keys, buzz around in small boats and chase fish from the water. It makes me feel embarrassed that I find no pleasure in what pleases so many others. I apologize for my failure to appreciate.