Saturday, November 28, 2020

Golden Golden Beach

 Golden Beach at sunrise on mornings like this reminds me of just why we're here. It doesn't get much better than this.  A tranquil sea, dawn pinks and blues, miniature waves  lapping and tickling, pelicans swooping and rocking on the water, turnstones and sanderlings scurrying on their clockwork legs. 

An osprey flies overhead with his breakfast takeaway and a sudden "plop" behind me as a tern dives, then another and another, while a tiny plane from the wakening airport putters out over the ocean.  While below just the odd hopeful shark tooth prospector, a fisherman lining up his rods, a white sail on the horizon.

 And clambering back over a still empty wooden walkway, past Sharky's beach pavilion, the smell of disinfectant and early morning masked cleaners scrubbing dutifully, skirting one of the last remaining bits of wilderness by the Coastguard post, a red-shouldered hawk on  a dead tree watching from high above. 

Then in  a few strides back again to manicured front gardens and squirrels skittering back and forth across the road, tiny acorns from the live oaks crunching under my shoes. It's not yet the hour of the leaf blower but of cyclists bowling past with a "Good Morning!" and the grass on the short cut to our house still soaked in dew. You can almost think that everything's right with the world. Maybe it is.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy T-Word

 I have to consider the sensitivities of the chaps in the photo at the top of the page, so I'll whisper that today is T**********g and a very quiet one at that. A lot of romantic just-the-two-of-us celebrations going on around us, a lot of those turkey breast  (sorry lads) roasts for two flying off the shelves. Like us, my friend had bought one but bemoaned the fact that her hubby, unlike mine, liked dark meat. I said that, in retrospect, we should have got a bird between us and split it in half. Still there is plenty of bonhomie around. On our socially distanced morning walk people waving and saying Happy T**********g. There must be something good and warm and fuzzy coming out of all this gloom. My friend is a yoga devotee and I couldn't resist sending her a snippet from the local news. The latest thing, apparently is "Yoga with Tigers" at the local Big Cat Habitat, which rescues lions and tigers from dodgy owners. One assumes the tigers will be socially distancing.

Happy T**********g everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

An Egret's Dilemma

Hmm... which way I wonder?

 Looks promising

Well maybe not - on second thoughts let's try thataway

No - wait a minute - that way! C'mon! Let's go!

Er - um - doesn't look right. Now where am I?

Oops! Perhaps not

Now what? Oh well, let's turn round again

Huh. Breakfast yesterday, breakfast tomorrow but never breakfast today. 

That's life in 2020 folks! 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

After Eta

A couple of days after the storm and the beach was still, how shall we put it, exhilarating. My surf-loving friend who's moved from California said the waves had been up to seven feet the day before. "Did you get to surf?" I said jokingly, "Of course", he said seriously.

The benches had lost their legs. Is someone going to shovel all that sand back?

 Early the following morning, walking the other way, it seemed half the debris in the Gulf of Mexico had swept up,

Including some potential works of art 

Some fascinating vegetation

Signs of some minor devastation - for someone

And some less than fascinating nasty junk - sticks of wood with sharp nails sticking out, broken beer cans with jagged edges, all reminders that there's no such thing as an earthly paradise.

    Making the best of it though 

Were the fishermen

Of all types

There was still a lot of water in odd places. This new channel had appeared

Behind the trees to the left, a little overgrown and forlorn, is the classic midcentury house once owned by Walter Farley, who wrote the Black Stallion books. In those days people still rode horses on the beach. It's one of the last really authentic old beach houses left among a load of new trophy monstrosities.
  And the likely swamp down the road has a lot more water than usual.

Passing a large puddle I remembered an alligator expert saying, "In Florida, if you see a puddle, expect an alligator." Since the puddle was opposite the golf course, an alligator habitat of choice, I gave it a wide berth. I haven't seen any in the likely swamp but you never know.
to be continued...

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Eta and the Frogs

 Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

  A lot of excitement the past few days as the perverse Tropical Storm/occasional Hurricane Eta behaved like a squirrel crossing the road, constantly turning circles and changing its mind about which way to go. So Sunday and Monday were windy and rainy, Tuesday a little better and Wednesday (yesterday) a windy deluge. We brought the garden furniture and hanging baskets in and looped over the curtains in the lanai (the netted cage at the back that Florida houses have, presumably to keep the mosquitoes out). 

Of course the photo, taken through the netting, doesn't show anything much - in reality the branches were swaying around like seaweed under water and the rain was bucketing down. One neighbour's front garden was a pond.

We are tropical storm newbies - this is the worst weather we've been though in Florida but our neighbours said it was nothing as bad as Irma in 2017.  Though phones and hubby's marine radio were constantly buzzing and elongated high pitched beeping with tornado and flood warnings and the lights ominously flickered on and off and on again interrupting the dishwasher and hubby's Zoom meeting. "Please let me back in!", I heard him begging plaintively.
  The strangest thing happened when it grew dark. Hubby went to take a look outside and rushed back in saying, "It sounds as though there's some bird in distress." An eery screeching emanated from somewhere underground, getting louder and louder and seemed to be echoed by a similar loud screeching down the street. It was loudest at the drain grill. I thought of those big leggy birds that abound in Florida - perhaps that's the sound they made if they were trapped and struggling, swept into a drain pipe by the storm and powerless to escape. I called my neighbour who said she wasn't about to risk her life for an animal though she might for a human. Then she listened for a bit and said, "It's probably frogs". 
  "Frogs! So loud? Surely not. We wondered if we should call the RSPCA - or whatever they have here."
  "I'm sure it's frogs. They're probably having a party. I know you're a very caring person but I don't think you need worry". 
   The sounds went on all evening and into the night, multiplying until there was practically a symphony. The screeching began to sound more like croaking. I realised my neighbour was probably right. Well certainly right. Brekekekex Ko-ax Ko-ax. Appropriate for a Greek-named storm.
  In the morning, the frogs were silent, probably badly hung over. The water had receded, though in some parts of our neighbourhood, near inlets and such, the water mark had clearly reached half way up their drives. A wet sun emerged and the sky was blue. We went for our morning power walk, passing friends with their dogs, "Got off lightly there, didn't we!"  

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Are We Done? Part 2

 In 2016 I was, being a woman, mildly embarrassed to hear Hillary Clinton bang on about how proud she was that the Democrats had selected a woman as their candidate. Now there's a big song-and-dance about the first woman vice-President. (men of course didn't get a look-in in this case). 

I'd like to remind my American friends that it's 2020 not 1920. Compatriots of Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Golda Meir, Jacinta Ardern, Marys Robinson and McAleese,  Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Benazir Bhutto, Kazimira Prunskiene, Edith Cresson, Violeta Chamorro, Tansu Ciller, Hanna Suchocka, Gloria Arroyo, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Luisa Diogo, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Michele Bachelet, Cristina Kirchner, Yulia Timoshenko, Dalia Grybauskaite, Laura Chinchilla, Dilma Roussef, Julia Gillard, Yingluck Shinawatra, Alenka Bratusek, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Bidhya Devi Bandari, Sheikh Hasina and many more like them* might be forgiven for saying, "So what?"

*Question: Were all these vastly different female leaders in so many vastly different countries mostly chosen because they were women or because they'd get the job done? Tough one that....

Are We Done?

 The blog, as a foreigner, doesn't wish to take sides in the subtle complexities of American politics. It would like, though, to offer a few observations.

"I'll be very happy when we don't see those any more!" Quote, pre-election, from a Florida neighbour  pointing to a front garden election sign.

"Republicans for Biden".  Election sign around the corner from us.

"I just wish I didn't have to wake up every morning terrified about what he's going to tweet today," Quote, pre-election, from another Florida neighbour.

"Of course  I hope Trump will win again and of course he will win again but I really worry about election fraud," Quote, pre-election,  from a friend up in rural western New York.

"We're desperately praying",  Quote, post-election,  from an anxious pro-life friend in the mid-west. 

I can't help pointing out without prejudice that, despite shooting himself in the foot at every opportunity, despite loud and near universal loathing, from day one of his presidency, from the mainstream media, the political and cultural establishment, Silicon Valley, academia, Hollywood,  big business, big cities, celebrities and Covid 19, the Donald still managed to up his vote, Notably from non-white voters. And he almost won.  And despite all of the above, the Republicans may still keep the Senate and have increased their numbers in the House of Representatives. There's a message there somewhere. Future presidential hopefuls had better start looking for it.

And now we can all start worrying about Tropical Storm Eta which, while everyone was distracted, suddenly decided to turn round and head straight for Florida. Wish us luck.