Cat Who Looks Like Hitler…

… surely you know the website… relaxes in her more than ample Sanibel Island bed in the early morning sun.

My favorites from my haul…

… of seashells at one of the most famous shelling beaches.

Four olives and a conch.

Snapshots, Sanibel

There’s a surprising amount of interesting architecture around here.

Mr UD admires the interior of an all-green (inside and out) Episcopal church.

On Captiva Island, the firehouse is a brilliant white. More pix.

A girl plays a game in back of the Island Cow restaurant.

Home again, after a drive around the islands: Cat, shells, palms, bayou.

Tomb of the Unknown Stoner

Captiva Island, Florida.

I think this must be…

… the first book I read about Florida. I remember it in the bookshelf of the room I shared with my older sister in the second house we rented in Garrett Park. I also remember being charmed and excited by the pinkness of the motel’s buildings and by descriptions of life under Spanish moss and under a hot sun. From the outset, Florida was for UD a whole other world.

Every December, my parents loaded their four kids into our VW camper bus and drove down to explore a part of Florida. On the way, we always stayed at South of the Border. I recall the Everglades; orange groves; Jonathan Dickinson State Park (which my mother loved); Daytona Beach; a Seminole reservation. We watched a guy wrestle an alligator. We stayed at campsites.

Years later, I lived for awhile in Key West and loved it – loved everything about it (see the category Snapshots from Key West). The tropical exoticism I’d come to associate with Florida was intensely there at the southernmost point. But so was a loose oddball way of life, a way people had of rolling out the path they wanted to take and then taking it. I’ve never seen houses so expressive of philosophies of happiness as I’ve seen on Key West.

I always knew about the catastrophic overdevelopment of Florida; I always knew the state’s tacky side, and its ostentatious side. But my sentiment in favor of its beautiful strangeness hasn’t diminished since I sat in my parents’ VW staring at an armadillo crossing in front of our van.

Even here, on this well-heeled island, where I’m living the softest life imaginable in a floating world of perfect weather, warm water, and sheltering palms, I’m alive to the odd and alluring undercurrent of this state.

A family of cormorants…

… a little blue heron, and two dive-bombing brown pelicans. Morning activity along my deck, on an inlet to the Gulf of Mexico.

UD’s itinerary today:

Breakfast and shopping at the Sanibel Farmers Market; a walk through Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge (we’ll see whether the federal shutdown has messed things up there), and then the regular daily grind: shelling, birdwatching, swimming. As for the nightly grind: There’s tending to our vast dark sky, the heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.

For those keeping track…

… of the endless musical track which is UD‘s consciousness, the first song she felt compelled to sing on her balcony overlooking an inlet and beyond that the Gulf of Mexico, was Beethoven’s tiny morsel, Plaisir d’Aimer (not to be confused with the much more popular Plaisir d’Amour). To accompany the slow looping osprey and the calm passage of water and just the whole silence and slow time thing, UD‘s mind sought lento, sostenuto… plus something of a simple ballad. Nobody’s working up to much emotion in this song, and no one’s hopping up to a high C or breaking the run with a change of mood. It’s got the nonchalant beautiful flow of UD‘s setting and will do for today’s ear worm.

Whenever I think of going inside the house…

… another bird cackles in the mangroves, or flies just over my head, broad beak silver. Mullet leap out of the water. In the sky sometimes are little white airplanes. There’s no point in going inside because the morning breeze (after evening rain) is cooling, and the large family of egrets on the opposite shore stays there for me, letting me rest my binoculars on them as long as I like.

So sit here and let it gather, the pelican circus, and watch it revolve around you. Sanibel built a few houses, like this one, by the narrow inlets to the gulf, so that all day long you can settle on your deck and let it flow – the alligator water, the palm-shivering wind, the raptors and the passerines. They whistle about you their spontaneous cries.

UD flies…

… the friendly skies

to Sanibel Island.

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