Wintertime, and the livin’ is easy (apologies and credit to George Gershwin)
Oh, People of the North, hear my tale, and know that we here in the land of milk and honey and coconuts share in the burden of your horrific winter weather. Why, just this morning, I was out in the backyard putting the finishing touches on the ramp for my boat pad,
and I worked up such a sweat in the 80 degree sun that I just had to find a way to cool off.
“Aha”, thinks I, “We have a swimming pool, and a quick dip would be refreshing.” So I walked to the precipice and plunged in.
Well, I didn’t actually “plunge”, I sort of plunged one toe in, and then another toe, and then another toe…well, you get the drift…
WOW!! The water that less than a month ago had been warm as the womb has plummeted, according to our handy-dandy floating pool thermomolator, to a bone-chilling, teeth-chattering, shrinkage-inducing 73 degrees!!
Wait a minute…that means that the water in my pool, is about 50 some odd degrees above the temperature of the air many you are breathing. Oh yeah, Florida is da bomb. But before you think I’m just being smug, let me assure you that the the winter temperatures here can get uncomfortably cold too. When the Arctic Express slides south of the Mason-Dixon line, we can experience temperatures low enough to send even the hardiest of us scurrying to find a long sleeve t shirt, and worst of all, these cold snaps sometimes last for upwards of five to six hours. Sales of space heaters spike, firewood is in short supply, and emergency management officials start planning to open the shelters so people can get out of the brutal 40 degree weather.
During Thanksgiving week for instance, we had a full week of brutish weather made worse by wandering williwaws and the kind of grey, dreary, depressing, overcast skies that you People of the North are so accustomed to. Naturally, that’s the week that Janet’s mom and sister chose to come visit. In the runup to their trip down here, we had been regaling them both with tales of endless sun, life lived in shorts and t shirts, and rollicking fun on the beach, so they packed both clothes and expectations, accordingly. The day they arrived was bright and sunny, as promised, but sometime during the night, one of you People of the North apparently left the back door open, because the next morning dawned grey and sinister, with a chill in the air that would do Frigidaire proud.
We weren’t going to let that stop us from having fun though, so on Thanksgiving day, after consuming way too much turkey and the standard accoutrements we hied ourselves to the beach to go fly a kite. Really… we bought a kite and went to fly it.
To spice it up a bit, we decided to have an impromptu masquerade contest. Here’s a shot of three kite fliers (my son Nick was actually flying the kite).
Can you guess who they are masquerading as? OK, I’ll tell you. Left to right, Janet, Maureen, Muriel. Alter egos, Don King, Miss America, The Unabomber.
We spent a lot of time outside, despite the weather’s uncharacteristically churlish attitude, and one afternoon I was out in the cleared area along the side of the house and found this little guy wandering along.
When he’s a full grown gopher tortoise, he’ll be a foot or more across and weigh several pounds.
We also took a trip to Bulow Plantation state park, the site of a sugar plantation and mill that was destroyed by Indians during the Second Seminole War. The artifacts that are still there, and the interpretive exhibits made it very clear that life on a sugar cane plantation was very harsh, particularly for the slaves who did the hard and dangerous work.
The remains of the plantation and the surrounding area are quite interesting.
The quality of the masonry, using coquina blocks cut by hand and hauled for miles, fascinated me. Most of the concrete block homes being built today aren’t built as well as these structures were.
Of course, the day that Maureen and Muriel left to go back north, the weather turned bright and sunny again, the wind died down, and it’s been that way since. Must be some sort of cosmic hoodoo that makes you People of the North bring your weather with you when you come south.
With Thanksgiving just a memory, it was time to get into the spirit of Christmas, and what better way to do that than by watching an old fashioned Christmas boat parade? I spent a couple days on Magic Carpet washing her off and spiffing up the salon, we stocked the galley with a supply of finger foods, beer and wine, then invited a few friends over.
Magic Carpet is tied to the end of the pier, so no other boats intrude into our view of the waterway through the marina, and it is that same waterway that serves as part of the parade route, so we have what amounts to front row seats for the event.
We spent some pre-parade time eating and catching up, then as the first of the boats entered the marina, we all went to the aft cockpit to watch the boats go by. Each year there are a few standout vessels, and this year was no exception.
A couple short videos of two of the boats, complete with their on-board Christmas music can be seen here: http://youtu.be/pPYZrRp9zKA
With the parade in the bag, it’s time to finish the cabinet-making project at home, and then I’ll be back on Magic Carpet installing a new radar and an upgraded touchscreen chart plotter. I’m looking forward to doing projects on the water again.