Not quite in the Gulf of Mexico, this small, one stop light village of Matlacha continues to warm ones heart with innovative slices of local lore, tradition, and Americana. This story is about my experience at Matlacha’s Christmas boat parade.
Almost a year ago I wrote a story “Discovering the Critters in My Backyard.” It is about the famous “Burrowing Owl,” the official bird of the city of Cape Coral in Florida, USA. I now live in a new place in Cape Coral which is adjacent to a canal and a new critter has now shown up.
There are many canals in this community and in them one can routinely see fish jumping and occasionally a larger creature such as a Manatee! Two days ago I discovered a Green Iguana sunning himself on the seawall in my backyard outside the screened pool area.
This story is about the Iguanas which are now found throughout Southwest Florida.
To me it seems that childhood experiences often feel different as I age. By that I am not necessarily referring to things just being relative to my size. More so, I have a realization that memories I have as youngster are often similar, but different, in reality than what I experience in the same circumstances as an adult.
While growing up in Somerset, Pennsylvania, there were always many nearby places of significance to me such as Forbes Field, Carnegie Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Fort Necessity, our family cabin at the farm, and the Somerset Little League baseball field.
And today there are newer places of significance such as the somber Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville.
Just as my perspective of memories has changed somewhat, I am certain that young people visiting these and other places in Western Pennsylvania will see them differently than their memories as they grow older.
One such memory forever etched in my mind appears to be very similar to reality today. My father had a fascination with going to Kooser State Park which is about 15 miles from Somerset. Kooser is located in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, not very far from Seven Springs Resort. Dad loved having outdoor picnics there and occasionally we stayed in a rented rustic cabin in the state park. A blazing fire in the fireplace was always part of going anywhere with my Dad.
The park also has a small sandy beach (pictured) which seemed larger in the day. Spooky, dank, smelly outhouses were available to relieve oneself and have since been replaced with more modern facilities. The memory I have most is that the mountain spring water that flowed into the swimming area was on the “Polar Bear plunge” side of cold! I speculated it to be a few degrees above freezing although I am certain it is more.
On exiting the water at Kooser in my younger days, my brother Dave was often light blue as he shivered to shore, reminding me of a blueberry popsicle. The only respite for relief from the cold while in the water was when someone left a warm spot and quickly moved away as to say “not me!”
As interesting as I find this memory and others, I know my readers have similar stories of how they recall experiences from their childhood differently as adults. As in other stories I encourage each of you to document a recollection so your thoughts not only bring a smile to your face but also to others.
A few months ago while visiting my friend Coconut Pete in Cape Coral, Florida, I decided that I wanted to learn how to operate a motor boat. I also decided that I would tackle this bucket list item on the Florida coast rather than a mountain lake near my apartment in Asheville, North Carolina.
My friend Pete owns a boat. This story is about my adventure learning to captain his twin engine Hurricane.
As a youngster growing up in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania, seeing “critters” in the backyard such as rabbits, squirrels and occasionally a deer was commonplace. It just seemed to me that almost everyone had critters of some sort in their backyard.
Having traveled many places in the world and observing different animals, I developed an appreciation for the diversity of wildlife on every continent. Few animals are the same around the world. But they certainly are interesting. Everywhere there are new critters to discover and enjoy. This story is about discovering the Cape Coral Burrowing Owl.
In the 1960’s there was a popular television series called TheBeverly Hillbillies. In it Uncle Jed, a poor mountaineer, lived a peaceful, mediocre life in the mountains before striking it rich one day. That day was when “Texas Tea” bubbled up from his ground when he was shootin’ at some food. On moving to “Californy”, he and his family found a whole new world of swimmin’ pools and movie stars.
Similar to the Hillbillies, my good friend “Coconut Pete” moved to Florida where he found a whole new life in which he could go back in time to a simpler way of living the way Florida used to be.
One of his favorite hangouts is “Bert’s Bar and Grill” in Matlacha where every Saturday evening turtle races are held. This is my story about Coconut Pete’s favorite saying “enjoying mediocrity” and the turtle races at Bert’s.
As a recent Yankee transplant to North Carolina, I have learned about the loyalty people of the “Tar Heel State” have for their preferred brand of slow cooked pork barbecue.
There are two primary variations of North Carolina barbecue. “Lexington Style” (sometimes referred to as “Piedmont Style”) claims to be the best barbecue in the world.
North Carolinians living along the Atlantic coastal areas eat more “Eastern Style” pork barbecue. And they have a different point of view about this “world’s best” claim.
My story, however, is not to draw distinction to barbecue preferences but rather is about my recent visit to the 35th Annual Barbecue Festival held in Lexington, NC… the legendary world capital of slow cooked barbecue.
I was recently hospitalized for four weeks in Budapest for a serious emergency surgery. There were numerous experiences to record in my blog during this time but because of the remnant effects of the anesthesia, it is often difficult for me to determine reality from my vivid imagination. One, though, is certain when my nurse Etta required me to wear pajamas citing in easily understandable English “No nudie in hospital!”
In a few months I will have lived in various places in Europe for four years. My explorations have spanned geography from the Iberian peninsula in the west to the mountains of Transylvania in the east. One thing is consistent in every location, the Romans have been there.
The vastness of the Roman Empire is difficult for me to comprehend. In the history of mankind, their story is relatively recent. Even so, I find it to be more than a simple curiosity. And such it has been in my exploration of Aquincum, the Roman provincial capital of Pannonia Inferior. Aquincum is a treasure trove of antiquities such as the limestone statue of Nemesis, the goddess of fate, created in the 2nd century.