Thursday, January 26, 2006



Pure Florida will be stuck right here for a day or so. I did not get to go home for my birthday last weekend, so Friday, after dinner out with my family, I'm heading alone over to St. Augustine. ( My crew is all obligated and can't go)

So, I get to see my Mom and Dad, stomp around my old town a little, and pick up about 100 real toll house cookies courtesy of Mom. We will go out to eat at a little restaurant called, "Schooners" where they make an excellent Minorcan style clam chowder and tastey fried shrimp.

Sometime Saturday evening I'll head back, but in the meantime, I will be incommunicado.

If you were wondering, the fish in the tree is a dried out striped burr fish, a type of puffer. When threatened he puffs up into a pointy ball that's fairly hard to swallow if you are a predator type. Burr fish have a hard, horny mouth that is used for crushing the bejeezus out of crabs and other hard bodied critters.They bite really, really hard...I know this from personal experience.

Once I was snorkeling off Steinhatchee with the kids when a huge burr fish waddled by. They are slow fish go so I chased him, caught him , and surfaced with my prize. I held him in one hand as I signaled the kids, " Hey guys, look what I...AIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE, OWOWOWOWO!" They stared in amazement and no small amount of fear as it sounded like I was sharkbait.

Their worried looks turned to laughter as I swung my hand from side to side over my head, with the burr fish firmly latched onto the thin webbing between my thumb and forefinger. It was not just latched on, but was biting over and over again in that shell crushing way that they do. Finally, I quit swinging it around my head and placed hand and attached fish back in the water. At that point, it calmly let go and swam away.

I did not chase any more fish that day.

I do not know how the one in the photo got stuck in the cedar tree. I found him that way, puffed, dead, and wedged, on a field trip with my students.

Honest. Posted by Picasa


The MacBean Gene said...

Have a nice visit with the folks.
Mmmm, cookies!

Rurality said...

I love St Augustine - I think it's my favorite Florida town. (Say "hi" to it for me.)

I don't suppose the kids had a video camera on them at the time...? Sounds like one of those $10K winners from that 'funniest video' show.

Floridacracker said...


St. Auggie is still a pretty charming place.
Unfortunately, no video...only scars.

Hick said...

That photo is great. I wish I could find a fish stuck in one of my trees. Now THAT would be a find.


Good story. I'm afraid I laughed a little bit at your antics...sorry.

owehf: what someone says when they a burr fish releases their hand and swims away.

Deb said...

Enjoy your weekend; that restaurant sounds great!

I'm glad we don't have burr fish around here; I'd have to pick them out of nets.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Hope you have a fine time with the folks. Enjoy those cookies, and the chowder and shrimp. Yum.

That's quite a fish story. You do have some interesting stories, FC, and the battlefield scars to prove it!

Thunder Dave said...

Hey man, say hi to your Mom and Dad for me!

Floridacracker said...

Amusing education is what we do here...that and getting hurt.

A seine net full of them puffing and spiking is a tedious undo. They are comical fish though.

My students say, " Mr. P. is there ANYTHING that hasn't bit, stung, or stuck you?"

I will do that. I will also tell them you are a grandfather...I'm sure they still think of you as that college boy that came for dinner.

ttbnz = double cut steak

Anonymous said...

have a nice time and my mom was the one that honked at u at about 4 30 tmart happy birthday

Laura said...

ohhh,I love St. Augustine! it's so full of character, a real charming town. I hope you have a real good time this weekend. Enjoy those cookies!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

It's never too late to learn stuff.

Save me a cookie.

Juli said...

Happy belated birthday! I ate at Schooners last weekend. Enjoy!

doubleknot said...

Sorry the fish story was just too funny - it sounds like something that would have happened to me a few years ago.

Have a nice trip and eat a toll house cookie for me - isn't it strange how moms can make such good cookies.

Zanne said...

Enjoy your visit. The food sounds GREAT. I'm sure mom will make you a good breakfast in addition to those Toll House Cookies. Now you've got my taste buds all fired up and I'm going to have to make some this afternoon.

Floridacracker said...

Hey Tmart,
How did I miss a pretty blonde honking at me? I need to pay attention!

Ditto. I did.


My dad's pic is on the wall there. Look for the old photo of two handsome dark haired men with a boy in between and a loooong string of fish. The boy is my bro.

It's mom magic. Glad you liked my fish tale.

Why are they soooo good? I tried not to eat any on the 2 1/2 hour ride home, but it was hopeless.