Tuesday, February 20, 2007

State update: Florida

Well, our second attempt to enjoy some exotic warm weather was thwarted. Not by sudden hospitalization, thankfully, but because of the unseasonable chill that settled over southwestern Florida as soon as we landed, and that did not relent until we had come back to the barren icy hellhole of Manhattan. But we were able to have some good times in Naples, where L and I and my sister had a great long weekend with my grandparents.

Although we spent a lot of time relaxing on the plush interior of one of many gated communities, my grandparents' taste for local flair gave us a lot of exposure to native Floridian culture. We drove an hour down to Goodland to eat stone crabs and sit on a restaurant deck amidst the Thousand Islands. It happened to be the day of the Mardi Gras boat parade, so gaudily festooned boats and yachts would troll past (sample themes: pink flamingoes, a drug bust, redneck yacht club) as the crowd at the restaurant - mostly old, many grizzled - downed their beer and twirled their colorful beads.

There's something strange about Florida - I can't put my finger on it, but I think it has something to do with cohabitating with alligators. Gators are such a big thing down there, a totem of something, and I think people's reaction to living among these fierce and timeless predators is to go a little bit weird. Floridians, for example, were much ruder and pushier than New Yorkers (or even Hawaiians - it's like the Aloha spirit landed here and rotted in a corner). They love their guns and Confederate flags. They're sort of trashy (can I say that?). It was interesting. Question: when we were in Florida, how many times did we hear the phrase "jew canoe"? Answer: more than never!

But, we had a great time. On the same day as the boat parade, Goodland also featured an outdoor concert by the Mullet Brothers, just outside of the Island Woman store, where we all tried on weird hats with fake wigs attached as a few locals drunkenly danced outside. I gaily tossed my fear of head lice aside so we could take many photos like this:

It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my grandparents, to read a couple great books, and to eat like a king: the signature key lime pie, fresh seafood at every turn, crisp apples, canteloupes, blueberries, and the most delicious strawberries I can remember. Although it was kind of a drag with the cold weather, I tried to buck myself up by reminding myself that at least it was thirty degrees warmer than back home. Anyways, so Florida: temperate, amusingly weird, fattening; not as warm as it could have been; good eating. That's the update on that.

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