Things have been tough for Florida fishing since hurricane Irma in 2017. The newspapers are saying the storm wrecked habitat and upset breeding cycles for crab and lobster and with stone crab season starting tomorrow fishermen are hoping things will be better this year. Fishing reminds me of farming, in that it's a trade you are usually born into and the weather is never quite right and when it is abundance of harvest lowers prices.
I am not a huge fan of lobster or crab as I would rather eat fish with fins but the economics of fishing are interesting in a community like this where money rules every decision. The only fishing most people think about is sport fishing, an extension of the tourism trade, not least because commercial fishing is carried out away from tourist centers and largely out of sight.
Recreational boats fill the harbor and this year with only a few weeks of hurricane season left we can hope to skate by without fresh disasters. Stone crabbers are hoping their crabs have settled down and are ready to lose their big claws to the appetites of people who think cracking shells and eating cold crab meat wrenched from a living crab makes an ideal meal.
This is also the time of year when people start to resurface in town. There was a massive storm reported last week in the Midwest and we heard of sudden temperature dips and snow falling and sure enough snowbirds suddenly showed up around town. I met a spandex bicycle rider on a recent dog walk, a sure and certain sign of middle aged wealth fighting the good fight to stay fit in a town with a drinking culture.
I try to stay upbeat in the face of the renewal of the tourist season, mindful that the reason they come is money and the reason they are embraced is money and it's what will pay my pension in the years to come. I used to wish that NASA had sent more artists into space and on the moon to send back reports of the true nature and effect of space travel on the human psyche. In the same way I wish snowbirds could bring more to town than money and overweening attitudes to local habits and customs.
But this is the price one pays to live in a community where housing costs more than local workers can afford. It is good for one's humility to be reminded how little one matters when in a crowd of people think Key West as winter playground equals Key West as a place to live. So when you see pictures of sunny winter days you will know that the best time of year to visit is in the heat of summer when Rusty and I have the mangroves to ourselves and restaurants are breezing through low seasons before gearing up for crowds and lines from now through April.
What is necessary is not always desirable and I must remember to be patient as speeds on the highway get slower and slower and lines everywhere get longer and longer....