Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Beauty Of Age

They say there are more churches, per capita, in Key West than in any other North American city. True or not, most of these churches are quite picturesque.

Deeper into The Village we come across a former church, pretty as a button, converted into an art gallery.

And further along, an art gallery posing art gallery. I am astonished how many industrious art people there are in little Key West.

Sometimes art comes at us from a slightly odd angle, poverty of time or money or commitment perhaps. I cherish the old homes in their gravity and beauty and impermanence. In most places across the fruited plain old homes are a nuisance and impede progress. In Key West they occupy valuable land and annoying government strictures require a certain amount of protection for them. I am quite fond of government regulations especially for the old and the infirm and the uncertain. Be they homes or people.

I liked the mixture of colors below, but was reminded of the failure of the Bahama Conch Community Land Trust, the effort to preserve the old for the poor was taken into bankruptcy by good intentions perhaps but bad actions certainly. Court case to follow.

I was walking with Thérèse, my camera-phobic French visitor and she was enamored of the abundance of foliage spilling from this elderly home. She it is who has given my wife and I a number of potted plants to look after in our own garden. I am doing my best not to kill them.

Wild clouds, a palm tree and another perfect Key West skyline.

It's everywhere, age that is beauty.

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Cat Food

Sometimes it takes walking with a plant lover to learn to appreciate once again the simple joys of botany in Key West.

My plan had been simple enough, to take Thérèse to breakfast in the most evocative (and pricey) of Key West eateries in Bahama Village. On the way to Blue Heaven we were distracted hither and yon by plants, for such is her delight.

She was quite interested in the Hemingway House but happily hunger prevailed and we kept walking. I took her on a circuitous route to breakfast because I figured she would enjoy the walk and she is pretty impervious to heat. She works for the United Nations and neither humidity nor flying bullets are generally too hot for her in the odd places in Africa where she frequently lands.

It wasn't too humid and flying bullets were in short supply so the walk turned out rather well. Including a close encounter with a bottle brush plant (I think that's it's name).

A fine Conch cottage with a nice hedge, a soaring palm tree and the benefit of off-street parking is a thing of beauty.

"Ooh look," she said in fluent American-English, fluent because she did spend a great deal of time in the US in years past. And I looked and there was Art, lurking.

Les chats artistiques struck a chord too so I took a picture.

These bowls set in a lovely green lawn were put out for real cats, not artworks. And they were wiped clean, by the hungry feral buggers.

It seems there are quite a few in the bushes of this alley.

I think feeding cats abandoned by people is a laudable endeavor. Did not Christ himself suggest that giving a glass of water in His name would garner the giver a reward in Heaven? Giving cat food must be magnitudes of goodness more ample, don't you think?

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Tourism In August

The Key West lighthouse on Whitehead Street was built as a landmark for ships at sea, and it was built inland to protect the structure from storm action. Nowadays it's a landmark and attraction for visitors, and as I have documented elsewhere it is quite the climb to the top- for some excellent views!

August is generally the start of "quiet season" in Key West, but this year the city has been packed. Cars come and go all week on the Overseas Highway but weekends are crowded like winter. Around town there are tourists everywhere, guest houses are full and there are lines in restaurants. It's amazing and utterly unusual.

The speculation is that Americans are looking for interesting destinations closer to home and Key West qualifies, while for Europeans the value of the Euro so far exceeds the battered dollar that a trip to exotic south Florida is relatively painless.

Whatever the reasons it has been a bumper summer in Key West for tourism operators. And so far hurricanes have been well behaved even as we keep an eye on a potential threat wobbling around in the Eastern Caribbean.

Wandering past that perennial attraction, the Hemingway House, there were tons of people taking the time to check the place out though the sidewalk artistes seemed to be going through a slow moment.

"Hemingway for a buck!" he called out cheerfully. No art this cheap in Key West, he added as he scattered his stuff on the sidewalk:

I quite liked this piece of "folk art" on the trash can - no recycling bins around here.

On the Olivia Street side of the famous house there was another salesman plying some sort of wares, I didn't look too closely.

It's amazing to me what a lot of commercial activity is spawned by the writer's one time home. I liked the droopy palm frond, making an artistic statement of it's own, and for free.

"Look at those Geckos" Thérèse remarked as we walked.

I think she thought they were worth a picture and I agreed.

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Snipe Key

Please go to for the proper story of our fabulous day at Snipe Key yesterday. Whence I stole these mementos of the day. Hey Chuck, you take nice pictures!I was without my camera and enjoyed a glorious day at the beach thanks to Wayne (above) and Chuck (behind the camera).

The tides were exceptionally low and miles of sand and mangrove were open to inspection. My wife and our French visitor spent most of the time in the water but Cheyenne got anxious when I trudged off for a swim so I spent the afternoon with her as was proper.Zuzu and Tootie, Wayne and Chuck's rescued Viszlas ran like crazy and kept Wayne busy keeping up with them which was fun to watch.

We sprawled in the shade and had a perfect Saturday in the Keys. Not too many other boats were there and Chuck got us home through tremendously shallow water without a bump. Great stuff and many thanks for a memorable day.