Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sammy Creek

Morning at Sammy Creek on the south shore of Sugarloaf Key.
  A lovely park on land donated by the family that used to own a house here. 

 Hurricane Irma left it's mark here too, many dead trees and bushes with inextricable trash washed up:

 Lovely skies above dead trees that give a wintry air to a 90 degree day:
 Rusty and I alone but for a black racer, a harmless and beneficial snake sunning itself inoffensively:

Saturday, June 29, 2019


My recent foray into the cemetery netted me a few pictures of cemetery wildlife, Key West style:
 Their habitat:
 Families that peck together, stay together:

 Not all birds are chickens:
 Not all wildlife is birds:
 Some flying predators are simply on a flight path:
 Brought to you by Key West property moguls:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Old Bahia Honda

I get to see a great many sunrises around here as I my shift ends at six am and I am home being assaulted by my dog promptly at 6:30 am, and who expects in return to be taken on a walk. So when my wife was at a family reunion and I had no one to hold us back I took Rusty to the old Bahia Honda rail bridge to watch the sun go down.
Or, more accurately to admire the effects of the setting sun on the landscape. This bridge has been around for 107 years but the state of decay is such I wonder how much longer it will last. It could have made a fine bicycle path.
 This was Rusty's third walk of the day - I get bored when my wife isn't home, what can I say?
And he was busy tracking iguanas, a few of whom have survived the devastation brought about by Hurricane Irma which wrecked their habit and killed most of their food.
Rusty used to be a determined hunter when I first got him three years ago but the life of the idle rich housed dog has blunted his killer instinct and these days he likes to trace smells but actually chasing iguanas is a little too jejune for such an elder statesman. He enjoys watching them scuttle and he will pursue them languidly just to show he  is still able. But his heart isn't in it.
 Sunset stillness on the water:
While he lived on the streets of Homestead chased by angry farmers and shot at, pursed by larger dogs and beaten up he survived by his wits and his ability to catch dinner, until the nice ladies of the dog rescue put out food for him. Nowadays his life is a bit different.
 Mine is too as he requires a fair bit of exercise.

We stumped back to the car and  sat there by ourselves watching the darkness encroach until another car pulled up. 
That  fence has only just gone up but I have a library of pictures from many many walks taken up to the edge, including with Cheyenne of fond memory:
The occupant was a former park ranger at Fort Jefferson and we talked as one tends to, about hurricanes as we looked at the devastation caused by Irma. How green it was here before September 2017:
The ranger enjoyed taking cover at his work site where they had water and electricity and thick brick walls to keep the storm at bay. Now he lives in Big Pine enjoying retirement and exposed to the storms' fury. Rusty listened intently.
 And so we wait for another hurricane season to pass and to leave us alone. Enjoying the sunsets as we go.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Catholic Dead

I have to restrain myself from making too many cemetery visits with my camera, because I am endlessly fascinated by Key West's burial ground. It is filled with history, quirky graves, and panoramas that closely resemble movie sets such are the atmospheric and splendid  tombs to be found in the cemetery. People naturally behave badly here as one is reminded upon entry:
The cemetery is in the middle of Old Town and thanks to its own streets and trees and monuments it has  a park-like ambiance, so the cemetery naturally lends itself to a secondary role as a  bicycle short cut from Margaret to Frances Streets.
In order to try to keep myself focused I decided to try to limit myself to the Catholic section as I was entering on the Frances Street side. In a town filled with Cuban Catholics it is an oddity that there is a small Catholic corner in the cemetery with another corner dedicated to the Jewish diaspora which has had members in Key West since the city was chartered in 1828. The rest of the cemetery is everybody else I guess. 
Some money has been spent in the Catholic section, nit surprising when you find out that the major construction family in the Keys has a mausoleum here. Angela Street runs down the north side of the cemetery, the far distance in the photo below.  That's where Catholic Lane is located, obviously named for this section of the cemetery.
 Everybody else gets buried out there:
The reason the cemetery has this odd location on prime land in the middle of Old Town is due to the fact that the original cemetery at Higgs Beach was disrupted in the 19th century by a major hurricane and city residents were disturbed to find coffins and bodies pushed up out of the ground by the storm. So they decided to move the cemetery inland to protect its integrity in the face of future storms. 
The cemetery was actually located on the edge of town, as Key West was in the 19th century. The city had a population of about 12,000 in those days and the cemetery was on the outer city limits. The rest of the island, beyond Division Street (now Truman Avenue) was open space, including some dairy farms and the like, divided as the street name implied from the urban area.
This business of the dead being resurrected by Hurricanes has not unfortunately abated. Hurricane Irma, among the many indignities inflicted upon us pulled a coffin out of the ground in Big Pine, tore the lid off and set the unfortunate corpse inside upon one last journey through the island, as reported by the Miami Herald which I quote here to make sure I am not thought to be exaggerating:
After Hurricane Irma hit Big Pine Key, a casket from a nearby cemetery wound up lifted by storm surge across the Overseas Highway, winding up along a neighborhood street. The top broke open, exposing the remains of a man in a baby blue suit. The casket, one of a handful displaced statewide by Irma, is now back in its proper resting place.
I find the tombs in the Key West cemetery always worth a  pause and some contemplation. Elsewhere on this page I have recorded various well known and less well known graves as a look in the search box at the top left hand corner of this page will show if you want more pictures...even more pictures.
There is I believe more than one tomb dedicated to animals but this one I found among the Catholics. I lost my faith pretty much when my parish priest told me dogs have no souls, can't go to heaven and aren't allowed in church. Things seem to be changing on that front at least:
The graves in the cemetery have to be above ground to avoid a high water table and the difficulty of digging holes into limestone rock are not to be underestimated. Therefore like New Orleans, itself also a city fighting a high water table, Key West employs above ground graves, some more ornate than others:

The Toppino family got the contract to lay the cement for Flagler's railroad at the beginning of the 20th century and that lucrative monopoly laid the foundation also for the family fortune in the Keys.Their red and white cement trucks are out and about on the roads today. 

 This  tomb has got massive amounts of interest over the years but hopefully that will die down.
It used to express her fondness for a particular singer though I doubt any but the oldest among us now will remember Julio Iglesias ( the photo below I took six years ago) and his place on the tomb has been taken by another family member as shown above.
It's hot under the summer sun in the cemetery but I always a enjoy a walk there thinking about those who have gone before and enjoying the mementos family members leave behind.