Thursday, January 17, 2019

Palm Paradise

A getaway to the beach in January is like buttered rye toast with your Popeye's omelet. Indulgent in all the best possible ways.

As many times as I've been to the beach for a stretch, Islamorada is a different kind of salt life. Yes, we're right on the ocean and sure, all the windows are open night and day, just like they'd be if we were in Kitty Hawk.

There's even an outdoor shower, albeit not an enclosed shower, mere feet from the ocean. I can work with that and I have.

But plenty lately is a revelation to this long-time beachgoer.

New to me is the heated pool, tended to by a guy who shows up every Thursday to skim leaves and do whatever else pool guys do. The house sits at the end of Seashell Drive, with an under-construction house on one side (sawhorses present, but no actual construction workers) and on the other, a house that's been unobtrusively occupied for a day or two once a week.

And get this: once a week, four guys show up to shovel any seaweed debris off their beach and into the ocean. Make no mistake, the seaweed returns with the next high tide, but our mostly absent neighbors must think it's worth paying to have their beach cleaned even for temporary results.

This is a whole new kind of beach life I've never seen.

So basically, we have no neighbors and the privacy of that is very new and hugely appealing to us. One of the first things I do when I wake up every morning is push aside the screened sliding door from the bedroom to the deck and walk out there for a weather check.

Is it 68 or 72 degrees first thing in the morning? How much is the breeze blowing? Is the ocean gently lapping or mirror-like today? Is anybody out there yet paddle-boarding, parasailing or kayaking?

When we don't go out for breakfast, we eat it on that deck. When we do let someone else cook for us, it's at a place like Mangrove Mike's, where we're seated near an empty table that begins to fill up with a group we dub the Wednesday morning breakfast club.

One or two at a time, they dribble in, this collection of men in marina t-shirts, some with newspapers tucked under their arms. No one orders until all six of them have arrived, then it's a free-for-all of ribbing each other, fish stories and teasing the servers, who tolerate them like the regulars they clearly are.

It's easy to spot the owner of Mangrove Mike's and when he stops by our table to check on how we liked our waffle and omelet, I use the opportunity to get his story. Turns out he grew up in Tidewater, so we discuss the area's overgrowth and he laments how Portsmouth never caught on. After 21 years in the Keys, he's lost all interest in places with winters.

After 13 days and counting here, I can't disagree with him. Since our arrival, my wardrobe has alternated between sundresses and shorts. My jean jacket was only useful on the flight and on a particularly windy day at a bayside bar.

The funny part is, locals think it's cold once the thermometer hits 64 and that's where I keep my thermostat in my apartment during the winter. Here, they don jackets and hats when it hits 65. One server called 65 degrees "sweatshirt and gloves weather."

Don't make me laugh, kids.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for my daily sunbath on the deck. I's a little ritual I picked up last week once I realized that with absolutely nothing on the agenda beyond eating, drinking and sleeping - and, yes, Mac, most days I do walk and generally we walk to breakfast and dinner - why not toast my buns before beginning happy hour?

That's a rhetorical question, by the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment