Well, it's been a topless week in PureFlorida. The weather has been that almost perfect blend of clear blue skies and a coolness that hints at greater things to come.
I drove across the state Thursday night with the top off the JEEP and an enormous fall gibbous moon floating just above me ... or so it seemed. Everybody was everywhere else, so this was a solo trip. I was towing our boat, so if that was you lined up behind me, desperate to pass the little JEEP going 50 miles per hour, well, sorry about that chief. Mostly I took the country back roads since my boat trailer brake lights were acting up and I was trying to avoid the constabulary. It worked.
I had Jimmy Buffet's "Ballads" album playing and I sang along for most of them ... I can't sing "The Captain and The Kid" without getting choked up so I just kind of hum along to that one. Mrs. FC was down south with Emma checking out Gulf Coast University for next fall, so I dialed her cell phone and held it to the speaker while "Survive" played and then I hung up. It's our song from when we first met and then dated long distance for a few years. That's probably another post someday ...
As I came down the east side of the Palatka bridge over the St. Johns river, an explosion of tiny bug bodies smashed into my windshield. They were not our infamous love bugs, much smaller and lighter in color. They were only there for a moment near the east shore and then they were gone. It turns out they were midges. A hatch was occurring on the river.
It's not too far from the St. Johns to Mom's and around 10:00 pm I pulled into her front yard.
The next morning, I got up early, grabbed a snickers bar (regular size), a gatorade (tangerine) and a cup of coffee (black, no nuthin) and zipped out to Riverdale to launch the boat and get shrimping. By 9:00 am, I was slipping across the river towards Racy Point ... the shrimp zone.
The wind was somewhere else and the river was flat calm with every bit of surface covered with the cast off exoskeletons from the midge hatch the night before.
I wish I could say that I filled the boat with shrimp, but I try not to lie BIG on Pure Florida. It seems they may have begun their migration out to sea as they were hard to find on this beautiful fall morning.
I cast an 8 foot castnet from 9:30 am to 5:00pm almost continuously and while it was worthwhile and good to be on the water ... it wasn't necessarily fun ... more like work. Yes, I'm sure it was work.
The few gallons of shrimp collected were worth it, but I had hoped for a few more. At least they were jumbo sized ... mostly.
As the day wore on, I was kicking myself for only grabbing a candy bar and one gatorade. I began rationing the bar, setting a goal of a certain amount of casts of the net before I was allowed a sip of gatorade and a nibble of chocolatey goodness.
By the time I got back to Mom and Dad's and headed a few hundred shrimp, I was pooped out and starving. One of the benefits of civilization is ready access to take out Chinese food though, so I took advantage of my sojourn to the city where all things are available all the time. (At my house the nearest restaurant of any kind is 15 miles away.)
I grabbed some Kung Pao and a Tecate and inhaled both before crashing into the rack.
Today was less strenuous. Mom and Dad took me to breakfast at Theos Greek restaurant. They go there every Saturday and the staff starts fixing their food as soon as they walk in the door. Everybody in the kitchen knows them, waves at them, comes out to see them. It's a sweet thing.
After breakfast I split off in the JEEP to get those scenic St. Augustine photos some of you requested. I think I captured some of downtown's flavor. You will be the judge. They will be posted after I get home.
In the afternoon, I climbed up on Mom's roof to fix a few shingles that had gotten loose. Then I pulled the pine needles out of the gutter, because they bug her. We set up the hay bales in preparation for their Halloween Scare-a-palooza they do every year. Decorating for that one evening is a big deal at their house and it's important to begin early.
Right now, I'm sitting in the public library on Ponce DeLeon Boulevarde hoping that the Gators are crushing LSU so it will be a happy house I return to tomorrow morning.
It was a topless week in Pure Florida ...