I can tell you this: if the morning after a tropical event everything is back to normal it wasn't a hurricane you survived; it was just some wind and rain. Higgs Beach the morning after Tropical Storm Elsa blew through town at 65 miles per hour looked like this:
It was a lovely sunny day, typical of the scene left behind by a hurricane, however flooding had receded electricity was flowing and the Internet never left town.
At first I was puzzled by all the ventilating in public about the weather system's arrival and then I was exposed to some of the reporting by people whose job it is to report boring stuff
Tropical Storm Elsa was clearly not going to derange our lives much if at all, so even though my family in Europe (!) started sending me messages of consolation I declined to get ramped up about this thing.
I wonder if (when?) we face a true test of our collective mettle whether people who survived Tropical Storm Elsa unscathed will brag about their hurricane expertise and their survival credentials? And how many people exposed to television nonsense about this rains storm will keep their fears in proportion to the next tropical storm? Fear and urgency are entirely appropriate for certain conditions, having lived through them, but worrying about 65 mile per hour winds makes you unqualified to enjoy life in these latitudes.
A quick walk along the waterfront illustrated my point that things were entirely back to normal so I spent the short time remaining on my lunch break to take a quick walk through the Garden Club.
I dropped off five bucks in the donation bucket. There is no entry fee nor any required donation, which when it is required or suggested removes the notion of donation from my mind. So when I visit I like to drop off some cash for this most genteel and serene public spaces.
I am not a botanist, I have never been one and it is far too late to turn me into one. I enjoy plants and trees and flowers for what they bring to the world and the idea that I should fill my rather small brain with a filing system to name plants seems absurd to me.
I dislike cutting trees down, I honestly don't much like to prune plants however good it may be for them.
I see perfectly manicured gardens around town and I know were I to live in such a place I would need an expensive contract to keep a landscape company well supplied with work as I am totally uninterested in gardening as a hobby.
I told my wife that when we sold the sailboat with plans to move ashore if she wanted a lawn she would have to hire someone to maintain it. I love the summer sound of lawnmowers droning but I would rather eat crushed glass than be tied to a schedule of lawn mowing all summer long.
And yet, for as much as I know myself to be a Philistine in these matters I never skip a chance to enjoy the Garden Club and form time to time the Botanical Gardens on Stock Island. Indeed I am overdue a visit there and I only have 276 days left to get another walk done there.
The Garden Club is an excellent spot to spend time in the shade looking out at the water. A book, a thermos flask of Yorkshire Gold and a winter cold front can make this spot ideal.
Of course in winter it is much more crowded, not only with people who have "flown onto the island" for the winter, as they tend to say rather grandiloquently, but also with lots of colorful flowers whose names escape me of course.
Summer is low season for birds and plants and people which is when I come out of my hiding place and wander round.
This time next year I hope to be in British Columbia, one hopes not in a 120 degree heat wave, though I haven't yet made the case to my wife that we should detour by ferry to Victoria for high tea at The Empress...
...and a visit to Butchart Gardens where even Rusty is welcome.
But for all that other cities have more land and bigger gardens and vast expanses of green, Key West does pretty well by its location.
The West Martello Tower was built as part o the coastal defenses of this border town but it was never actually used in war. Instead the gunners at Fort Zachary Taylor trained their artillery pieces on it and used it for practice! Which is why it so much more deteriorated than the perfectly maintained East Martello Tower at the airport.
It should give us some pause to picture Key West after the Civil War when you had a line of sight from Fort Zachary to Higgs Beach and didn't have to gun down the Reach Resort or the Casa Marina to lay your sights on the Martello Tower.
The Martello Tower was popularized by the British around the world as a small coastal defense point with a flat roof giving a cannon a wide range of fire.
However it was an Italian who designed the first one in Corsica ( a colony of Genova at the time) in a place called Mortella in 1565. And here they still are in Key West.
Rather than blowing up passing traffic this old wreck makes for an excellent viewing platform over the glorious colors in the Straits of Florida, from behind a secure iron fence...
A place to sit and contemplate the glories of nature.
No such luck for me. I had to go back to work.