Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dog in Mangroves

Cool weather is a relative term and when I read of Richard Machida's pathetic excuse for not riding his sidecar combination around Fairbanks, Alaska I could come to only one conclusion: I am not cut out for frontier life. Richard's Page: DNR* (Did Not Ride) Excuses

Cool weather for my dog and I is a day when it may be eighty degrees but the humidity is gone, a gentle breeze blows and Cheyenne perks up. She is no fan of summer heat and she becomes positively puppy-like in the relative cool of a Florida winter. Right now she's in the Florida panhandle with my wife visiting friends for Thanksgiving, a holiday not much respected by 911 operators, and she will be reveling in a proper winter with rumored night temperatures hovering around 50 degrees.

In summer I could never get Cheyenne to even look at a mangrove trail in the back country but for some reason she took off one day on Sugarloaf Key and wanted to check out the countryside. My little heart sang as I love the open spaces and silence of the back country. Cheyenne finds her own pleasures among the mangroves.

It is lovely countryside in its own way, yet no agriculture, no rolling hills and no secluded valleys no isolated country pubs, lacking roadside hedgerows or clumps of colorful flowers...hey wait a minute here. This is all we've got?

Well there are Clyde Butcher's Florida mountains up above rolling over us in the manner of clouds.

This is the nitty gritty of life among the mangroves with mud, salt water and dead wood and rocks and Labradors. Because humans have visited every nook and cranny of this land you will find rotting cans, tires, whole vehicles sometimes, bottles, planks and mattresses and even rotting clothing. There is no undiscovered land in the Florida Keys.

Streets dead end into the mangroves and sometimes the red diamond signs topple over, and because they are left there they succumb to the fecund conditions of growth among the mangroves. It's hot and wet around here in short and stuff grows. Does that look like a happy dog to you?

Abandoned homes. The signs of a stagnant economy are there, but Key West is a place where the very rich come to play and homes that look expensive to you and me mean nothing if they are more than a stone's throw from Duval Street, so they collapse under the weight of tropical damp and heat and sun and neglect. There' shouting available here but ordinary people can't afford it and the one percent aren't interested. Market economic forces at work.

I read in the paper that respected economists (respected witchdoctors you might say) think we may be spending the next several decades in this stagnant economy with high unemployment, sky high among the young, no consumer confidence and no prospects for improvement. More or less where Japan has been for decades. What a prospect.

Cheyenne is a happy girl sniffing the edges of a long line of empty lots for sale. When the middle class thought they were prospering in the era of easy loans these lots represented future retirement homes and they were snapped up. Now? Take your pick at fifty grand a piece or triple that if on a canal. Good luck getting a building permit.

It's my dog that reminds me that all I need in life is a long walk, a full food bowl and a soft couch. Everything else is superfluous.