Good Things

I know, it’s hot, and you got stuck in that afternoon downpour last Sunday. I know, there’s pollution in the water and people were traipsing all over the reef in search of lobster. I know, the city and county are short on money, developers are taking over and homeless people are spreading out all over Higgs Beach . I know all this, we all do. We rehash it in public meetings, over happy hour drinks, morning coffee and Cuban sandwiches. To hear a lot of us talk, myself included at times, this place is going to hell. We roll our eyes and shrug our shoulders in defeat.

But not everyone and not all the time. This week opened my eyes, or refocused them on some of the remaining goodness in own. Last weekend, hope, goodwill and the desire to do the right thing overcame politics when a group of people boarded boats and spent a hot day cleaning up Wisteria Island . (Remember when we called it Christmas Tree Island , just a month or so ago?) The volunteers don’t live on the island and they can’t see the mess from their front porches. The island was a mess, we all know that. But these 30 people realized that building luxury houses or condos out there was not the only way to get it cleaned up. When something is dirty, clean it, don’t build on it. I don’t know what’ll happen to the island. I do know that the homes built there will be empty most of the year, but whatever fence, wall or security system in place to protect the property will be in place all year long. I do know that it was refreshing to hear of a group doing something to make things better.

Speaking of refreshing, the Spanish limes around town soon will be the perfect island snack. “A few more weeks,” the Conchs say, looking into a tree and nodding sagely. A friend recently introduced me to the fun of grabbing one of the little fruits from a low hanging branch while riding our bikes through Old Town . Those little things are tasty, and are only getting sweeter. The first one I tried about a month ago nearly turned me off permanently when the bitterness instantly sucked all the moisture out of my mouth. But by now, once you crack the green skin, the pink meat inside, albeit a little slimy, is quite delicious. It’s like having an endless supply of all-natural Jolly Ranchers within arm’s reach. They’re a community-wide snack for all to share, and although I was sworn to secrecy about the location of the mother lode tree, I’d like to thank the woman who lives next to it. She welcomes all who stop by her house to monitor the harvest, and has a kind word to say from her porch.

A porch was the perfect place to be last Sunday afternoon when that extended downpour arrived and dumped rain on us continuously for nearly an hour. I’m sure someone got splashed by a car speeding through a flooded curb, and someone else was still at Fort Zach when the skies opened. But I, for one, was settled comfortably in my aprés-beach position on the porch with some reheated pizza and a Diet Coke. Life was good . . . Until the cries of a big dog interrupted my sunburned reverie. It was a terrible sound and was coming from right next door. Apparently, the big old dog was a little freaked by the afternoon thunder, as I have been at times. But I usually choose not to break out a window pane, jump through the new opening and then manage to get myself stuck. By the time I got down the steps, Buddy’s front paws were outside, but his ribcage wasn’t going to make it and he couldn’t get his shoulders back inside the house. He was panting, crying and generally freaking out.

But back to that refreshing goodness I found. When I reached the dog, a lovely gentleman named Peter already had stopped his bike to investigate and a guy named Matt, walking down the street with a two liter of Coke and a small bottle of rum in a shopping bag, also got involved. We calmed the dog down, made sure it had water inside the house and then eventually hammered a piece of wood over the new opening so the dog could no longer fit through. Of course, by the time we finished all this, the thunder had stopped and the dog was looking at us like we were insane. But that’s OK. We did the right thing. We got involved and it felt good. Now if we can just get drivers to slow down in flooded roads, we’ll be in good shape. I know it.

Mandy Bolen’s columns appear in The Key West Citizen

Mandy Bolen's award winning "Tan Lines" column appears bi-weekly in the Key West Citizen. Offering unique insights on life in the southernmost island and life in general, her wit and wisdom has been likened to that of a "female Dave Barry."