Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Key West Holiday

A few random pictures from around town. No words needed today I think.
 From the place I am happy to call home.

And finally a couple of shots of my colleague Tracey from Community Services  doing the seasonal thing and sharing a few laughs with visitors to the city when they see his passenger mannequin:
 Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Rain, Wind And Drama

I was pretty sure this weekend was going to look pretty glum not only because of the weather forecast but also by virtue of the fact I was not scheduled to work. So in the spirit of earning some peace and quiet later in the day I got up well before the crack of dawn and hustled a not unwilling dog out into the blizzard. It was a long time before dawn's crack appeared as I hadn't calculated the cloud cover which kept everything dark until almost seven in the morning.
It was of course pitch black when I pulled up alongside a pick up truck already parked with some dark shadow inside. That it was occupied by a very interesting retired engineer who is it turns out a dab hand with a camera was not something I would learn till later. Meanwhile, having left my flashlight in the car as I am hopelessly optimistic by nature, I stumbled around in the dark impatiently expecting the dawn to show its crack at any minute.
Rusty was instantly busy and after a quick check to make sure I was okay he darted off to check on the lay of the land. He can see in the dark and has no fear of anything that dog, so while I was minding my step he was trotting off into the night. Traffic isn't an issue as there is a cement barrier separating the path from the road and besides he has a healthy fear of cars; don't we all these days.
 Eventually the sun did come up not with any great force but that was okay as I was in my shirt sleeves and not feeling the cold, because it wasn't cold, just windy. For some reason the rain held off and we walked the beach the two of us watching the live show off shore.
Its a very odd thing walking through the upturned trees and dead limbs killed by Hurricane Irma even while pondering the fires burning up Australia with flooding in England and heavy rains causing mudslides in Italy and snow storms Up North and here I am in shorts and sandals walking a December beach.
The reef keeps the waters south of the islands pretty shallow so waves don't build even though the ocean looks violent enough. The weather forecasts offered us a possibility of winds to 60 mph and and sudden thunderstorms. 
And for some reason Rusty decided to pick a fight with a stick. He never plays with toys because I guess he didn't grow up with much frolic in his life. He got pretty frolicy with the stick.
 I sat and watched the day develop.
It was pretty nice.  I have a habit of looking over the horizon but days like these, cool perfect weather and dramatic views are a healthy reminder you don't need mountains and valleys and rivers.
Mind you, an occasional mountain would be cool. I'd love to have a huge granite monolith rising up out of South Florida. Imagine a frosty pine covered mountain with alpine lakes and... well probably not. We'll have to leave that to Colorado and keep our coconuts and bath warm waters. Fair exchange.
This isn't swimming time though. While I was glad to see the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere pass us by it's not going to be warm enough to swim until the time change in the Spring. Something to look forward to.
Rusty liked the cold weather we found in Pensacola at Thanksgiving but he enjoys sunbathing and napping in the air conditioning too. 
Back in the parking lot I was approached by the man in the truck. "I saw a dog down there in the dark," he said. "I had no idea where he came from." We talked about the photographic possibilities for dawn in the Keys and he owned as he had sold a couple of pictures of that there tree to National Geographic.  If you check Ivan Sebborn's website you'll see why. He's been all over the place and takes some superb pictures.
We had a bit in common and I fear I talked his ear off he was so nice.  Bloody good with a camera too, I could learn a bit from him. A man using his retirement well; I envy him. I could just as easily envy Rusty.
My wife is away until the New Year, until then the boys cope alone with, rain, wind, Netflix and take out. A state of affairs fit to leave one envying anybody.
Better go for a walk.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

One Wise Man (And His Dog)

Usually this time of year I drag my sorry backside around the neighborhoods to photograph Christmas lights on houses. This year I thought to myself I'll do something different. The thought was prompted when I noticed this delightful example of Tropical Adaptation. No fake snow here, just a Christmas Alligator. How suitable for the season:
This lot seem to follow the theme though their actual species is a bit indecipherable to me. Possibly a crab? A clam? A stingray?
The usual tree at the end of Green Street this year with a  new  Key West Bight sign. Except the Bight has been renamed the Historic Seaport to bump up the pomposity a bit. A Bight is an indentation in a  coastline suitable for anchoring boats. Or its a loop of rope which it isn't in this case.
My sentiments precisely even if my purveyor of happiness wasn't cooperating and dodged out of frame. His tail held high shows his state of happiness.
 I trust this provocative sign refers to the peppers and pepper flavorings within:
I quite like the Christmas Carol effect of the wreaths on the decorative lamp posts around Old Town. Rusty couldn't care less:
 Kermit's looking extra festive though he does get a leg up with his normal decor of green on yellow:
 And of course Christmas lights in the palms always look good and I have more photographed below:
This, below, is about as many icicles as I ever want to see again. My wife and I were watching a  movie set in a dark moody Alaskan village in winter, HOLD THE DARK was the title and at one point she turned to me and said with a  worried tone in her voice: Will we have enough heat in the van? I pointed out we may lack heating elements but our retirement home will have wheels and we shall go south as soon as frost threatens if not before.
I plan to come back to Key West and live on a  boat again to wrap up a busy life. Perhaps a Viking Funeral to end it all. Perhaps not. More likely a slow dreary fade to black in a nursing home! 
Pepe's on Caroline Street has got into the colored light thing too.  I think the oyster shells could reasonably be viewed as representative icicles this time of year...
I noticed these decorations on White Street presumably ready for darkness to fall. I like the winter season snow free and full of fresh spring greenery.  I never have been a fan of four seasons.
It's all about nostalgia in Key West and it does look a bit absurd when you view it rationally but this is not a time to be rational, it's a time to decorate.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Hunkering From Winter Winds

"You know how it is, us Conchs get pretty lethargic when temperatures get down around 70 degrees," a friend born and raised in Key West said to me on his way to what he hoped was a slow day at work. Today is the shortest day so soon we can hope for more sunlight. In the meantime strong winds require we practice hurricane-style hunkering apparently.
There is a threat of rain over the weekend but yesterday afternoon it was honking winds and flapping palms that constituted winter weather on a  75 degree afternoon. 
The visitors were the under dressed people.  This is not beach weather no matter what they tell you. And another thing to remember it's not just wet that makes things slippery but it's wind too. Things will get away from you given a chance.
 Waves are not tall sweeping ocean swells around here as most coastal waters are less than 20 feet deep and waves don't tend to amount to much in normal conditions, ie: less than hurricane force.
Hoodies, windproof jackets are needed to make a breeze be bracing and not frost bite inducing. 
 For some few people yoga is the answer and I saw one delighted tourist hop off his rental bike and snap a cell phone picture of the posing on the outdoor yoga platform. To me it seemed a rather fine spot for the exercise but al fresco yoga is apparently not a normal thing in some places Up North. His girlfriend applauded his picture with much vigor before they rode off.. I am glad to live in a place where outdoor yoga is as easily accepted as a man riding a bike in a tutu with fairy wings.
Of much more moment were the antics of the jetskis plunging horribly through the chop. It looked like no fun. 
Wave action was feeble, winds were strong said to be in the range of 30 miles per hour but the impact of this winter storm is negligible. No flooding even. Just arcs of spray over the rocks. 
But they came to look, severely under dressed for conditions of course. I wonder how they treat snowdrifts Up North. Do they go out and stare at them? I think I might if ever I find myself in the unfortunate position of being near one.
 I'd rather walk my dog. Or watch someone walking their dog while I'm on my lunch break.
This weekend may require some mild hunkering. I am ready to not work, to walk Rusty and carry out some hunkering with the best of them. Hunker hunker hunker. I hope it doesn't snow. For that I'm not equipped.