Conch Life in the Florida Keys
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Conch LifeLand of Oz
July 2009

By focusing on the occasional hurricane that pops up and blows away some exclusive coastal property, most northerners tend to mollify their envious feelings for the year round tropical climate Florida resident’s get to enjoy. When you’re safely tuned into the Weather Channel, watching a 300 mile wide, screaming vortex of wind hell bent on bashing into the Keys, it’s easy to dismiss the advantages of having endless sunshine, vast sandy beaches, awesome ocean views and swaying palms available on a daily basis.

If it makes you feel better to say “I’d rather deal with the snow than that!” then fine.  I am content to add to your rationalization with yet another little display of nature’s power that tends to occur from time to time in our little neck of the – errr – ocean.  Waterspouts!

Waterspout off Marathon Marina
~ Nature's Wizardry ~
With visitors pending, Don and I had decided to hook up to a dock. There was no way our vacationing Ohioans were going to be able to bear the summer heat and a marina would provide endless electricity for continuous air conditioning on board.  Our slip was located on the western edge of the channel, facing the open ocean with only one other dock between.

Summer means regular rainstorms, however they usually last only half an hour or so. On this particular day, I was in town, taking a short respite on a bench outside of the local West Marine. Often times at this establishment one would see the captain’s resigned wife waiting patiently in the parking lot. Thus was the case when I noticed just such a woman staring eagerly out her passenger window.

Still looking skyward, she slowly slid out of the car and shaded her eyes with her hand. I was not going to fall for the old “gain unsolicited interest in nonexistent flying objects” hoax, and continued to enjoy the rising breeze with my back to her targeted view. But when she ran into the store, and returned with every customer and clerk on her heels, I decided maybe I’d better have a look at whatever had captured the gathering crowd’s attention.

A massive waterspout had formed a mere half a mile away, right about where Re Metau was docked! Toto – we’re not in Kansas anymore! I frantically dug for my cell, anxious to reach Don on the boat and warn him. Alas, there was no answer. He was busy taking refuge behind our little digital camera.

Waterspout by Re Metau
~ Waterspout off the Bow ~
We’ve been told that waterspouts rarely come to shore. I don’t know if that’s a comfort as we aren’t technically ‘on shore’ but thankfully, no damage occurred. This particular wizardry of our weather lasted several minutes, menacingly twirling ever so slowly just off the edge of the outer dock. It was an awesome, close encounter with the violent beauty of our natural world and truly something I will not soon forget. Don did capture some impressive pictures for posterity.

So to those who are content to click their heels and cluck their tongues at the crazy souls who live in the hurricane prone south, it is wonderful that they’ve found comfort in the places they call home. It makes perfect sense to stay far away from the wicked weather, to remain safe and secure in a beautiful bubble and only come down when the danger is past.

But that's just not the road I've chosen to follow.  Even as a little girl, I remember being a little disenchanted at the conclusion of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. All along, Dorothy was safe and warm in her bed, merely dreaming of a colorful life on the other side of the rainbow. For me, I’d have rather been blown away to that land of mystery, where dangers and beauty and adventures kept all my senses in a state of wonder and awe.

Copyright © 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau.  All rights reserved.

"You are talking to a man who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe." ~ The Wizard of Oz