Monday, July 15, 2013

Nature Preserve, Key West

Let's face it, a sleeper lying alongside his bicycle is par for the course even in summer. He was conscious, more or less and was delighted to find Cheyenne's snout probing his extremities. Delighted may be an exaggeration but he was civil to my Labrador before he slipped back beneath the surface of alcohol induced unconsciousness.
I come by the Nature Preserve occasionally and take pictures and nothing much changes on the little mud trail leading to the beach. The city made heroic efforts to clean it up a few years ago with signage and handrails and so forth but the passage of time makes itself felt here too.
You can learn all sorts of extremely useful stuff out here if you take the time to stop. This includes a brief explanation of the three kinds of mangroves, known as red black and white with reds closest to saltwater and whites furthest. Mangroves are critical to sustaining the cycle of life in the ocean and are now protected even in developer friendly Florida.
I love the informality and accessibility of this place. It's here, there's some street parking nearby, especially in summer and there is essentially no oversight, no user fees and a simple reliance on the common sense and good manners of visitors. And I'll tell you what this place is remarkably trash free, and left in its natural state.
Interestingly this little corner of naturalness in Key West is overlooked by the giant Atlantic Condo complex, so called as it was built in defiance of Key West's particular style of architecture, on Atlantic Avenue. There is also massive construction going on at the building, which is a good thing this time of year when occupancy is way down.
Cheyenne lost no time in getting comfortable. I was doing well; there were no mosquitoes. Amazing.
Looking east toward Smathers Beach. Tropical Storm Chantal dropping rain on Hispaniola and the Bahamas in biblical quantities has produced strong southeast winds which are keeping temperatures and humidity to reasonable levels.
After a warm winter with just a clutch of mostly very mild cold fronts we have had a slow start to summer's heat. Around here a cool summer is not cause for misery but delight. August and Spetember are traditionally hottest and stickiest and most hurricane prone so we are approaching the zenith, but I have to say, sitting out on the porch with a powerful southeast breeze blowing is quite lovely at a time when it should be hot enough to cause human pores te explode in a stream of sweat.
Looking west toward the White Street Pier barely visible as a black line against the horizon.
Let's not get too romantic about this place, it is after all a narrow strip of sand on a rock in the fabulous Florida Keys and by virtue of that fact it means the sand has a healthy portion of dried seaweed washed up on it. This stuff frequently comes as a disappointment to visitors not prepared for the dismal reality that are the narrow little beaches of te Florida Keys. The best among them, as modest as they are, are human made with sand imported by barge from the Bahamas.
I like using clumps of the stuff as a rather comfortable cushion from which to meditate upon the meaning of life in all it's complexity and occasional disappointments and sadnesses. Everything gets better when you sit back and think how lucky you are to live here, seaweed and all.
Check it out, the water may only be two foot deep for hundreds of yards but as a summer mirror this place is just lovely.
The reefs keep wave action at bay and allow these low lyingislamds to survive storms that wash away sandy barrier islands. Ask the Outer Banks people who watch new islets come and go in violent hurricane seasons. The have lovely beaches but they pay for them with natural instability.

All alone. It may not be much of a beach it was all mine for a little while. Mine and Cheyenne's, my constant companion, my side kick, my best friend. She doesn't care about the beach as long as she was sitting at my side. God that dog makes me sentimental.