The manatees hide just below the surface sticking up their heads every few minutes, for a breath or to thrill the tourists who watch intently, because it is a thing to do in this part of Florida in winter.
The restaurants in the harbor don’t mind, it draws a crowd and takes pressure off the kitchen, for people waiting for sea mammals do not grow impatient like those waiting for just burgers or an order of fried clams with a side of fries.
The manatees will never understand humans, why they queue up in the sun to eat animals, when the sea provides a free feast for herbivores if you are only willing to immerse yourself in the search for a meal.
He always paid passing attention to the coconut palms. It wasn’t that they were so attractive as to merit attention. Quite the contrary, they were remarkable ordinary as palms go. But he knew that if the drivers here didn’t get him, a ill-timed coconut leaping from a palm would be pleased to do the job. And that was just too horrid a way to go. He could see the obit: “Killed by an angry coconut whose natural gravitational journey he had the temerity to interrupt.”
Only the ducks remain, and they aren’t saying. Ask a Muscovy where all the ibis have gone and he will say, “good riddance, they’re ugly and get in the way.” Ask of the pelicans and they will remind you that now there are more fish, and they’ll be back eventually, but things are much calmer in their absence. Anyway, they say, the moorhens are still here, but thank heavens the coots have gotten a room to do their mating this year. And for a moment, in this senior community, we think they are speaking of us.
You are driving through the Florida that once was, that is off the coast, and out of Orlando, the Florida of jalousie windows, run down once gas stations and the more than occasional double wide. Suddenly, you are in a Disney version of a semi-tropical New England, gated villages where cars have been supplanted by an endless stream of golf carts, where the Disney smile is a permanent fixture of most every face. In the community, as you walk into the town center, a town square imagined by Rodeo Drive, each night at five a wave of golf carts arrive , to plastic lawn chairs laid out in neat array soon to fill with those who so well remember when the songs to be played, and they, were young.
She examines each banana looking at it from all sides, looking down its shaft as though sighting a rifle. Each banana, in turn, she gently places back on the pile. My patience grows thin, but I smile and ask her if I might approach the bin, grab a small bunch of bananas, be done with my shopping. I see five with skins are a uniform yellow, no dark spots to be seen. She frowns a bit and I say, “Did you want these?” “Oh no,” she says, “I don’t want those — like most the curvature is all wrong.”
Today was downright exhausting, and my hour long walk along the river left me dripping and drooping. It wasn’t different than most days, same time, same place, and the usual 756 miles, according to my old friend Orion, who was watching from his usual perch, unseen, as he prefers it by day. When I was done, I started to complain about how I felt, when Orion interjected, “Just be thankful you’re not in Florida today, its hotter by far, and your usual walk would have covered a full 930 miles today, and there you’d have reason perhaps to complain just a bit.” Heading home to shower, I called out to Orion, “You know you are one heavenly pain in the ass.” “Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”
The morning paper said that a surprising number of Portuguese man o’ war washed up on the beach yesterday, bringing out the Dangerous Marine Life flags. The paper also featured stories on two fatal hit and runs, a person killed in an apparent drug deal gone bad and the opening of a redone highway exit ramp. Further in, we learned of a new seafood restaurant overlooking the beach, and the ground breaking for a forty-six story building that, when done, hopefully in two years, will house an upscale hotel and 113 condos in the heart of the downtown shopping area. There were may other stories, but I couldn’t read most of them this day, so taken up was I with the mass suicide of the countless Physalia physalis.