To see a man lounging on a park bench, taking his ease in a public park on some of the most expensive real estate in waterfront Florida, is no great surprise. A chicken scuttling away in a public space is no big thing either in this city of contrasts. I wasn't even sure why I took the picture, a reflex perhaps. I photograph therefore I am.
Cheyenne crossed paths with a couple of dogs as we crossed the park under a 92 degree sun but she ignored them as she does and meandered her own way, nose down into the dog park. Cheyenne is not a social animal but she loves to smell the trails left by other dogs so while I took my place in the shade she wandered back and forth checking the invisible trails.
The county owns this land and wants to reorganize it, move the street inland, expand the beach, shrink the area devoted to dogs and thus improve the place. The waters off the beach were foaming white in the strong southeast wind, it was hot, a perfect summer afternoon under a burning white sun. I saw a gaggle of rental scooters and wondered at the parking style.
That's the part I like about my life, working at night on long shifts...some days you get to stand in the same spot for a while. Your dog lays next to you in the shade being companionable and together you watch the world go by. In Key West it cycles and jogs and strolls along the beach as it goes by. This is island time for me.
Then I saw the crazy results of the removal of all the trees at Higgs Beach, and what a bloody shambles it is now. There used to be a stand of casuarina trees, much disliked in some quarters as non native trees and therefore fit for removal. Which is all well and good but, Good Lord the place looks devastated!
As you can see in this picture below the trees on the left were quite bushy and shady and to replace them with cement poles and tarps seems not quite right to me. The problem was that a branch snapped and that act of nature created a liability panic as the place has been transformed into a children's playground and the trees naturally had to go. Tree cutting is quite the sport around here for some reason.
Here's another file image from my blog which may explain why the area was fenced off and the pavilions reserved for adults accompanied by children. They had previously been rather taken over as a hang out by homeless populations and the paper was filled with complaints about their drunken brawling. I thought the children's play area was a nice solution to the whole problem; then they hacked down the trees.
Well, aside from all that history of tree cutting it was a lovely day and Cheyenne led me through the park sniffing here and there and I found myself quite taken by the view. Here we have the three basic colors of life in the Keys, blue white and green.
Which is when my deeply guarded secret came out. The dude on the ground hailed me and asked most politely if I was famous. I naturally burst out laughing, "God forbid," I said, enjoying the joke a great deal. But he insisted I looked like a famous film maker, not me I said and he winked conspiratorially so I suppose my secret is safe. "Can I make you famous, " I said back and they posed for my picture, him and Spiderman up above. "It's a hammock chair," he said and I told him I was familiar with them but not eight feet in the air. He insisted it was perfectly comfortable, of which I had no doubt. "How do you get in?" I asked the lanky youth. "Easy" he said reaching up for the bar overhead, which he no doubt meant well but I couldn't see myself doing acrobatics to get in a chair. I left him dangling in his own web, unable to convince them I wasn't a famous film maker. "Keep making those movies!" they called after me cheerfully.
I was once accused of being a snitch, not far from here. It was more than a decade ago before I actually did start working at the police department when I used to bring Emma here and walked her through the park, long before the dog park was installed. The homeless guys in an encampment got quite aggressive and yelled at me accusing me of being a spy for the cops. I was actually a boat captain at the time and even today when I'm not dispatching I'm an anonymous civilian which is the way I like it. I was quite taken aback when the thugs started yelling at me and my Labrador, threatening us for spying on them for some unknown reason.. So I walked into their encampment and confronted them. That freaked them out a fair bit as I refused to back down and demanded to know what they meant.Middle class suburbanites aren't supposed to stand up to their bullying but I disliked the idea that only hobos and bums could use these lovely facilities so I made a point of enjoying the park no matter what. They looked sheepish and after that they left me alone to walk my dog. I'd much rather be accused of being a film maker so I guess I have come along a bit at Higgs Beach since those days, and the bum population has been culled too, and good riddance to those aggressive bullies.