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Your friend in the surf at St. George Island this past weekend. My friend Hilda took this photo. (2008)
I went to the beach this past weekend. To the casual friend of Peter, this probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but my family will be surprised. I've avoided going to the beach for years. I'm not entirely sure why that it is, but I have my suspicions. To really work that issue out here on this page right now will require much more time than I have at the moment. Trust me on this one, though, that it's kind of a big deal.
Anyway, a friend of mine, Bettina Krone rented a house on the beach at St. George Island for a couple of weeks, and she invited several of her friends to come visit for the weekend. Candy couldn't make the trip (back problems) and after a couple others backed out at the last minute, it ended up being just me, Bettina and Hilda Gilchrist. There was plenty of room at the beach house and we had a great time.
Every moment was spectacular, but there are two experiences that were divine. The first was at about 10:30 Saturday night when the three of us walked down the beach under the cloudless, starry sky. With hardly any light pollution, we could easily see the Milky Way as it stretched across the sky in line with our path through the sand and surf.
The second event happened yesterday morning. We had already tried to swim out to the passing dolphins after we first got up, but they were too far out. After breakfast, we were down by the shore and the wild porpoises appeared again, just on the other side of a sand bar we had gone out to the evening before. I ran into the water, dove and started swimming out to the dolphins. I got past the sandbar and realized I was in pretty deep water. I looked back to see that Hilda was in the water about fifty feet behind me. Seeing her there boosted my confidence a bit and I swam out some more.
After a few minutes, there was an explosion in the water to the right of me as about a dozen foot-long fish leaped into the air. Then I saw the dolphin break the surface just behind the school of fish as its dorsal fin and rear flipper rotated like a dial about twenty feet from me. I froze in the water and reminded myself that this was not Sea World. These are wild animals and exactly what the hell did I think I was doing? I decided that I would not get any closer, but if the dolphin wanted to come to me that would be OK. Of course, it didn't, but that didn't take away from the experience.
Hilda caught up a few minutes later and we treaded water out there for almost half an hour as we watched the fish, the birds and the dolphins all around us. She dove down to the bottom and guessed we were in about sixteen or eighteen feet of water. We eventually made our way back to the shore and enjoyed the rest of our day before we returned to civilization.
The former micronation of the Conch Republic has an endemic malady known as Keys Disease. Though I haven't traveled that far south in some time, it seems I did in fact catch it those twenty-some-odd years ago and it has lain dormant ever since, waiting for this moment to raise its infectious head.
For those of you that are totally confused, I found a definition of Keys Disease on a web site (Google is my friend):
A sickness exists in the Keys called Keys Disease where the notable laissez-faire attitude of the Keys allows a lazy person to become a sloppy, useless, unproductive member of the community.
It's Monday now as I write this and it seems I'm already starting to recover. Perhaps multiple exposures is the only way to truly inoculate myself. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Until then, send sympathies to peter at unmeaning flattery dot com.
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