Saturday, November 03, 2012


I was driving home from Cedar Key last week with the windows down and a crisp, salty breeze blowing through the JEEP. The marsh was full of golding water as a sinking sun cast that wonderful fall light across the scene.

It was regular daily scene, yet one that bordered on the emotional in it's beauty and I couldn't help myself.

As I crossed the Number 4 bridge, I blurted out to no one in particular, "God, I love the ocean."
By the time I finished that short sentence, I was over the bridge and back on the mainland, with a 20 minute ride through pines and swamps to think about the scene, the ocean, and the interactions we've had since I landed on Earth in 1958.

Now, there have been a lot of those "interactions", since I grew up surf fishing,diving, surfing, boating, and generally immersing myself in salt water whenever possible.

So, it may seem odd that "scars" came to mind as I left that bridge and were the topic of my silent, solo mental inventory as I drove home.

I think the focus on scars was due to a discussion of tattoos in anatomy class (we are studying tissue types) earlier in the day, when I quizzed the kids on their views on tattoos.

While they were generally pro-tattoo when it came to their own skins, I was not, and quipped that scars were like tattoos with better stories. I also tossed in a Jimmy Buffettism, tattoos are ..." a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling."

Overall, they were pretty open to the idea of tattooing their own skin some day, while I was the one, "Not me" vote.

The scar comment brought up an interesting fact, which I only toss in here as a fascinating side trip ...
None of these kids had ever had stitches.
How in the world do you get to be 16-17 years old and not have had stitches at some point?
Answer: You grow up inside.

So it was that scars became the focus of my saline remembrance.

When I do an inventory of my permanent scars they are all due to the ocean, minus the most recent, temporary Bear scratches.

The scar on my heel: A gift of the ocean via Pellicier Creek at Favor Dykes State Park when I was just a little guy. An oyster slashed my bare heel deeply and it was off to Flagler Hospital in the 1962 Valiant station wagon with my Dad pretending it was an ambulance to cheer me up.

A few years later, the big scar on my knee came from the granite boulders that make up the jetty at the north end of Anastasia Island. I had swam across a tidal lagoon to get to the rocks so I could climb over them to fish the inlet ... and I slipped.

Even later, as a teen, I foolishly stuck my finger in a flounder's mouth to unhook him and ...
Pain, no stitches.

Here's part of a flounder jaw.

A closer look at the amazing architecture of a flounder's equipment.
Also, somewhere on the right side of my right foot is a small, circular scar caused by a stingray barb that passed through my Keds one night in 1976, as I was flounder gigging the shallows of Salt Run.
PAIN !!!!!, no stitches.

As an adult, body surfing at Panama City in a raging Gulf kicked up by Hurricane Fred (I think it was Fred, but there have been a bunch of 'canes in 54 years) I hit the bottom hard (awesome ride though!) and the sand removed a patch of skin from my shoulder that is a faint scar these days, but I can still find it.
Minor pain, no stitches.

Then, there was the whole "cutting your finger off while scalloping" event.  You can read the story at the link above and, if you can stand a little gore, you can see the finger here.

STITCHES AND AN 8mm SCREW installed.

The sneakiest scars the ocean gave me are the Mohs procedure scars in 3 locations that I overexposed to the sun's power while I was spending so much time on and in it.
I suppose the blame there can be shared equally between me, the ocean, and the sun.

$$$, Stitches, semiannual checkups

So, yes, an odd inventory, but odd happens ... especially here at Pure Florida.

I will concede one point to the pro-tattoo view ... Tattoos are a conscious decision and you know when they are coming.

My next scar is (based on my history) out there in the ocean somewhere waiting to surprise me.


lisa said...

You are still walking, hmmmm. :)
I love the ocean but I have to say that after I watch the devestation that can be left from water, I think I will remain on my mountain and be content to just visit the ocean once in a while.

threecollie said...

An unexpectedly profound post. I am with you on tattoos...and scars too... I don't know that I ever had stitches for injuries, although both my brothers did, early and often, but I have lots of scars from bicycling, horse bites, and all manner of other obsolete activities. Something to think about. Thanks

tai haku said...

I'm 32 and I'm pretty sure I've never had stitches (although there's a pretty strong chance that will change soon enough). I have however superglued myself back together plenty of times!

Bad fall wading for bonefish in BVI? superglue.
Picking my razor out of my rucksack by the wrong end in South Africa? superglue.
Mistiming my sweepshot to the offbreak pushed through outside offstump and wearing it on the head? superglue.

Superglue is the new stitches I tell ya - also scars are kinda cool.

Caroline said...

Stitches (a few), butterfly bandages (many), gritted teeth (yup). The lake leaves its scars like the ocean. I look at the odd shaped scars on my hands, my dad says they add character and signal an adventuresome being within.

Sayre said...

I have no tattoos, but LOTS of scars. Each one has a story. My son? No scars. Now that you mention it, it really IS weird.

Misti said...

The only stitches I have ever had came from indoors, cutting potatoes with my mom when I was five. That said, I have my share of scars from being outside in my youth and in my adult days. Such is life. Scars = stories.

Pablo said...

Two (relatively minor) surgeries and no stitches. (Apparently they used some kind of glue.) A number of scars, though. One on my finger from when a dogwood tree fought back as I was trying to saw it. One on the knee from a rental car that was apparently too small for swinging legs in and out. Next scar (based on my new lifestyle) will be from taking a tumble on the pavement when i go running.

Floridacracker said...

Yes, still walking !

I thought you would have a few scars from all the cow knocking you guys experience.

Help a Yank out ... "Mistiming my sweepshot to the offbreak pushed through outside offstump and wearing it on the head."
Is that polo, cricket, or what?
and yes, I should have realized that super glue is the new suture!

Your Dad is right!

Between A/C and video games, I think our new crop of kids aren't out there falling out of trees, etc. like we did.

Yes, you certainly can earn some scars in the house. New knives always leave their mark on me.

It will probably be a knee scar.
I think your running is more than worth it though.

tai haku said...

Ha! I'm talking cricket FC (the first international game of which was between your fair nation and the cannucks incidentally - time for USA to get back on board with the greatest sport in the world). The closest I can come to a US translation would be "mistiming an attempt to pull a slider into deep left field (and hitting it into my own face)"

Getting hit in the face is a lot easier in cricket than in baseball especially if you are as poor a player as I am.

Wally Jones said...

Amen to no conscious decision to mar my skin with ink. Funny how we all remember the story behind the scars! Catfish stabbed me near Honeymoon Island. Got the stingray barb wade fishing at Ft. Desoto. Yes, I learned why they're called a "Snapper" - forefinger pierced in Tampa Bay. Big red hornet left a scar between my eyes for years when I tried to tie the anchor rope to his nest near Ozello. Wouldn't trade 'em for anything.


robin andrea said...

I have no tattoos. I agree with Jimmy Buffett on that! I only needed stitches once, and it wasn't even an outdoor injury. I stepped on a sewing needle that had imbedded itself in the carpet. The needle broke off, leaving one part still stuck in my foot somewhere. Minor surgery and a few stitches later.

The one time I should have had stitches but didn't was my first delightful splash in the Pacific Ocean. I jumped right in and landed on a broken bottle. Slashed my foot very badly. That was 42 years ago, and that scar still hurts every now and then.

Bill said...

My advisor in the Anthro department once stated to the class that, in some cultures, tattoos are a sign of adulthood and considered necessary to their concepts of beauty. He want on to say that in ours, it's usually a sign of being unable to make good decisions while drunk.

And scars...yes. How in the world does anyone live such a sheltered life that they have no stitches before they're 20? Must be really boring. I share your oyster scar, and also have an interesting one on my left index finger from a baby gator about 60 years ago.

Bill said...

I just remembered that I do have a tattoo: a little blue-black dot on my arm where a portion of a black sea urchin spine still resides, a reminder of my scuba diving days before the perforated eardrum -- which probably left a scar...

edifice rex said...

Well now, despite all the many scars that adorn me I don't believe I've ever had stitches. I did glue some shut though or just bandage well. Most of my scars as I got older involved hot metal, so the wound was instantly cauterized, very little bleeding and no need for stitching. lol!

Deb said...

My kids have all had stitches, although some of them came from sports, or falling out of the bunk bed. The latest was when Nina split her chin in a volleyball game (away). Luckily her friend's mom, who was at the game, is a nurse, and had some glue and Band aids handy.

I agree on the tattoo thing, nothing against my friends who have them, I just can't think of any symbol I would want permanently displayed on my body.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks for the clarification!

Hey our scars are like relatives or something. LOL!

Oh dang! What an introduction to the Ocean! Glad you still fell in love with it. The needle story gave me the heebie jeebies!

LOL doesn't do justice to your first comment. It was more of a LOLSTMNLMAO.
The "STMN" part is "snorting through my nose".
You cracked me up with your anthro quip.

Yikes! Hot metal and skin.

Poor Nina. I hope it healed quickly and well.
Your thoughts on tattos match my own. Get em if you want em, but for me, I'll pass.
I'm just not much for intentional piercings of my own skin. Not judging anyone else.

miami said...

very little bleeding and no need for stitching.
Miami Jeep

Julie Zickefoose said...

I would classify this post as "expectedly profound," with all due respect to threecollie. Right with you and Jimmy B. on tattoos. I have designed (though not executed) the drawings for several tats, but always with a queasy feeling that someone would commit my art to their skin. Ack. My high school World Lit teacher, who remains a mentor and correspondent, said once that an artist has a certain abhorrence of disfigurement that many don't share. You, sir, are an artist who paints with words and photographs, celebrates perfection such as in the flounder's jaw, and likely feels that innate abhorrence that I do when I see perfect teenage skin written and drawn on forever. For what?
I always leap forward a few decades and wonder how it will look, and how the picture/sentiment, be it fairy, dragon, or impassioned proclamation, will translate when the canvas is not so smooth.
Great post.

Floridacracker said...

Lucky you.

I never considered that people would ask you for an original tat template drawing.
Although it makes perfect sense if a birder/Zick fan wanted a tattoo.
Thank you for the kind words, ... and yes, permanently marking fresh skin does make me pause and think," Are ya sure, really sure, I mean really, really, absolutely sure? How about those new temp tats? "

Kevin B ONeill said...

I just moved here to florida and I am loving it! I think your blog is awesome. Out of curiosity what city or town is PFHQ located near? Sounds like a cool portion of the state!

miz s said...

That picture of your mashed-up finger is AWESOME. Hey, it worked out well for you marrying a nurse, right?