Friday, August 26, 2011

Flood Season

You might think this is some place in the distant Mid West or Virginia or Delaware or somewhere getting hammered by Mother Nature this wild weather year. Nope, this is the quiet old backwater known as the Florida Keys, land of the world's best mild weather.

These are side streets on Ramrod Key and this is rainy season with a very high tide around the new moon, so it should come as no surprise that there'd is some flooding. Just lately it's been getting quite wet on the ground.

The main paved roads are raised enough not to flood, and even the City of Key West is trying to organize it's storm drains to keep streets flood-free when it's raining hard. Highway One is not affected by flooding, just so we're clear and driving between islands is a completely dry affair.

This is not snake country because this sort of flooding isn't unusual, and for a snake to live in these watery islands would be a feat of endurance hard to imagine.

There isn't much to choose between natural disasters but flooding is a dreadful way to wreck homes with the consequent mud and mold, which makes me glad I live in a stilt house - just in case.

As folks Up North get ready to deal with excessive rain and floods and misery it's not surprising to find oneself contemplating the irony of life when we in the unprotected Keys are enjoying a lovely breezy, low humidity summer, relatively speaking and people in sensible communities in the industrious Up North are about to get spanked.

Oh, and one more thing, when the seasonal rains cease in a couple of months the cool dry other season kicks in. We call it winter but most residents of temperate climes call it delightful. Either way I'm happy but I'll be glad to get my winter trails back even at the highest of high tides.

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The Big Pine Killing Fields

Rain was coming down hard to the west of my house when Cheyenne and I left for an afternoon walk before I had to go to work.

So we went east and took to the backwoods of Big Pine Key. Cheyenne was happy, and she expressed her joy by turning her back on me.

Rain threatened over here too, thick black clouds on all sides.

Cheyenne dropped in on me from time to time, busy chasing smells and looking for foul water to drink.

A successful hunt for fresh smells. How she didn't go mad in her last home chained and caged for eight years.

In a land of no hills no lakes and not much dirt the landscapes tend to resemble themselves.

The sun came out and forced the sniffing Labrador to pause for breath.

I do like these quiet open spaces, Cheyenne and I have them to ourselves.

Well, not quite. I have no idea what a huge pile of empty lobster heads was doing on this trail. Nothing legal I can only assume.

We make such a huge deal out of lobsters that the unscrupulous among us will do whatever they can to turn them into profit. One doesn't want to speculate but what the hell is wrong with people? Poverty? Greed? Stupidity?

All of us do stupid things from time to time but slaughtering lobster and dumping their shells in the woods just smacks of mean spiritedness.

That was a satisfying walk it seems lobster murder be damned.

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A Lucky Break On Plantation Key

I must have driven past this delightful park half a hundred times and never noticed it. Yet, here it is whether I know about it or not.

It was actually Chuck who was in the car with me who spotted it. We had an appointment with my wife at Coral Shores school and we arrived early so we figured we could either eat greasy food at Craig's (yum) or take the dog for a walk (boo hiss). We pulled off the highway just south of this familiar shed of a landmark at Tavernier Creek.

Underneath the camber of the highway is a wooded open space with very inviting shaded trails. I was amazed.

It also has a dedication as a child's memorial garden with trees purchased in their memory.

It seems to have a surprisingly large number of memorials...

...scattered through the park.

I am not fond of these statues, below, which hearken to a previous and rather less tolerant era, but shown in this way it gains a different, and poignant interpretation.

We arrived to meet not only an old friend much to my surprise but to a small child, it's mother and their unfortunate puppy, clearly not a dog saved from the pound and now condemned to a life of torture with the rather unpleasant and dominant child.

Brian, who I last met at Anne's Beach at the beginning of summer has two happy Labrador foundlings and we walked and talked as the dogs trotted around.

Cheyenne got cornered by the brat and,shades of her previous life I think, put up with the not gentle attention.

The child, walking behind Brian and I, threw a stick at my head which hit me a glancing and startling blow across the ear and cheek. His mother dealt with him suddenly and I hope, for his long term health, effectively. I restrained myself, much to my own surprise. To be child free is an enormous liberation I find as I grow older.

There were also signs of that other notorious Keys
pest noted by the presence of these in bizarre tin hats, which Brian identified as iguana stoppers. I need one around my entire house and garden.

"Why don't we have kayak only launch ramps in the Lower Keys?" Chuck asked plaintively, as he wants to get back into paddling. Because, I wanted to reply we in the Lower Keys have the initiative to drop our kayaks off seawalls or to launch them from regular ramps. But I didn't because I love Chuck dearly.

Cheyenne had had enough of the 95 degree morning so while I took a few extra pictures when we were left alone, she took her ease in the shade of these magnificent trees which might have been tamarinds had I been better educated.

Chuck meanwhile locked himself in the Ford Fusion with my wife and took himself off to Miami. My wife might possibly have been a bit tense as she feared being late for her Miami doctor 's appointment and I mentally wished Chuck well.

Had I been driving all would have been fine as I never miss her appointments, I know better than to risk it. My excuse for taking her car home? I was working that night in Key West. What you might call a lucky break.

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Gardening Again

I cannot say that my pineapple bush knows how to take quick decisions. This fruit was starting to begin to sort of look a little bit yellow in mid June. It's almost ready to eat I think.

I know that every time Thérèse visits my garden will get a make over and here we were buying pots and plants.

My growth is not quite as refulgent as this but I'm doing my best.

It is one might say, a good start.

I now have a mulberry bush growing under my house. My garden consultant fell in love with this green spindly shrub and would not let go. I am going to have to work hard to keep this one going until the consultant returns.

While I was in Italy in July some shrubs drowned and as sad as I was to see the devastation caused by Nature's overwrought response to the previous drought we have now potted (Thérèse potted actually) several replacements, figs, blueberries and blackberries.

And some delightful though anonymous flowers.

I like to use air conditioning condensate to water so I got a spare watering can to keep the process going night and day.

And in the "old vegetation" department my impromptu flower pot got the consultant's thumbs up to my surprise. "Quelle surprise!" j'ai dit.

Cheyenne is a willing co-conspirator in my plant killing endeavors. She likes the grassy bed I planted for her. All good dogs deserve lawn time even in a pea rock desert like the Keys, and she is a very good dog.

One of my non communicative winter neighbors actually approached me and spoke English to me asking what this plant is. "I never knew pomegranates grew down here." well neither did I but Dolly did and have me this bush which has survived my maladministration well enough to yield several fruits this year. Including the one early fruit that's as stolen by a snowbird no doubt before they went back Up North. I have lovely neighbors. That wasn't as bad as the guy who cycles the street all winter and calls code enforcement on the big bad untidy yard violators ( not me - yet!).

Frangipani grows whether you want it to or not and even I can't seem to kill this guy who guards my mailbox.

My adult coconuts are doing fine, as they would because they need nothing from me.

The seagrapes are in the same happy position and I'm getting to eat quite a few this year. Which probably means the birds are stressed as is every wild animal this year of global climate change, because usually the local doves get to eat most of them.

I am the only human who is unable to grow Bougainvillea and my last one drowned in this pot. Thérèse added a hole to the bottom and gave it another go:

I also added a hole to the pot containing the banana tree donated to this major gardening effort by Lucy. It is doing well. epsecially now that I have pruned it of dead leaves, since I took the picture.

My wife's herbs can't be contained on the deck, which is actually the roof of the rain water cistern that stores our private water supply.

I grew this avocado from a stone in a fruit we ate. It died and is a monument to rainy season. It needed another hole in the bottom of the pot apparently.

Flowers guard the entrance to the porch.

And they seem to be doing okay.

We are getting ready to do a porch makeover with paint and everything, ready for winter, if Sears can just manage to deliver the correct furniture. Four weeks and waiting....

Growing plants is a commitment. Heaven help me. Where's the Chicago cousin when I need her?

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