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Date of Issue: October 18, 2007

Sandscript

Sea turtle nesting down dramatically, fishing fees increase substantially

Those pesky mangroves!

Bayside developers hate the tree. Environmentalists love them. Federal, state, regional and local officials are generally confused by various rules as to who can do what to what when it comes to the saltwater-loving trees that love to line our bayfront shores.

Mangroves are a species of tree that just loves the salty water of our bays. There are three species, or maybe four, depending on who you to talk to: red mangroves, the “tree that walks” with its red prop roots that are found closest to the water; black mangroves, with the prop roots that root out of the ground — the prop roots are called pneumataphonres, for those who care; and white mangroves, or buttonwoods, which are generally found farthest back from the water.

Mangroves environmentally are a good thing. The reds provide a lot of habitat for little fish and other critters. They also drop their leaves and bark into the water to feed other critters.

Ditto for black and buttonwood mangrove trees.

Call it a free food buffet for our little friends that like to swim, crawl or slither through the wetlands.

The problem has always been that mangroves have been been known to grow on valuable bayfront property. Gotta build those condos, don’t you know, and the acreage of mangrove forests have diminished as the condo canyons have flourished.

Fast forward to today, and an issue that is near and dear to my heart.

As a small Roat, I spent a lot of time crawling through the mangrove forest that eventually became Runaway Bay in Bradenton Beach. It was our playground as kids. We built tree houses, we built forts, we did all the things that guys do “in the wilderness,” such as it was on Anna Maria Island.

The property was sold to developers. The mangroves were ripped out, mostly, and condominiums built.

I figured I’d get even and worked digging ditches on the property for a summer in an attempt to get back at the developers. Let them pay me for ripping up my childhood playground, at $2.50 an hour!

Remember, this was 1975, when wages were a bit different than today and, by the way, I was a small Roat and not quite as bright as today. Or maybe not.

The news McNugget of all this background is that the waterway just north of Runaway Bay has come into the interest of Bradenton Beach officials of late. Particularly, it’s that pesky mangrove matter.

Old Man Cullom — I can’t remember his first name, because as kids we always called him Mr. Cullom — sold the property to the development which is now Runaway Bay with the exception of a 10-foot strip along the north side of the canal. Wiley old guy that he was, he obviously figured that he’d eventually be able to sell that little strip for a fortune to the development for boat docking facilities.

Then the state of Florida changed the rules regarding mangroves. Can’t cut ’em, can’t do anything with them.

Mr. Cullom has long since passed. I would assume his heirs have pretty much forgotten the 10-foot-wide by 300-foot-long piece of his property, other than paying a pittance in property taxes annually.

But the mangroves have flourished, as “the trees that walk” tend to do, and have started to take over the canal.

So the city is faced with a quandary.

It’s got these two canals in Bradenton Beach. The one to the north is seawalled on all three sides. That’s not an issue for city officials regarding how to handle it: there are defined boundaries to define that canal.

The southernmost canal has those pesky mangroves growing and growing out into the water on the south. Boaters have problems getting into or out of the canal there because of the encroachment of the vegetation. Where is the boundary line of the canal?

I can just see Old Man Cullom, while he pulled out his Bull Durham bag of tobacco and rolling a one-handed smoke, laughing at the city’s quandary.

 

So what?

One canal. One side of one canal, in one city on one barrier island. So what?

Take a tour of Anna Maria Island and look at the canals, as we did last week. There are a lot of mangroves growing in the waterways, which would prompt a lot of questions about who’s got ownership and responsibility.

In the case of the south canal in Bradenton Beach, property owners have indicated that they love the mangrove trees spreading across the waterway and hope the city will keep them.

For other Island cities … well, we’ll just have to wait.

 

Hemingway stuff

Since this seems to be evolving into a “personal” column, and Ernest Hemingway and I share the same birthday, here’s some Papa news.

Seems that his Finca Vigia residence outside of Havana, Cuba, is undergoing restoration work. The problem is that there is that pesky issue of the U.S.-Cuba relationship, and work on the property which began in 2005 has been halted due to lack of funds.

The Nobel-prize-winning author wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea” while living in Cuba in that house.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, “The modest but elegant one-story bungalow sits on 21 acres overgrown with mango and guava trees about 10 miles outside Havana. Hemingway’s famous 40-foot fishing boat, the “Pilar,” rests in the dry dock in a garden by the pool. The house contains most of its original furniture and decorations, as well as Hemingway’s personal library of 9,000 books, magazines, manuscripts and letters.”

Wow!

The house isn’t quite available to the public except for those who want to peer through the windows. Restoration began in 2001, and today is almost complete as to its structural integrity. There’s still much more work to be done, not withstanding the Pilar and pool area.

There is still that Cuba-U.S. issue, though, dealing with the embargo and the work that U.S. folks would like to do on Cuban soil. Our country is blocking the work and the money-flow down south.

As the home’s curator put it in the St. Petersburg Times, “It’s absurd, illogical and stupid. This isn’t a question of politics. It’s about a literary figure who left his footprints here.”

Right on.

 

Sandscript factoid

Speaking of Ernest Hemingway, here’s a variation of a recipe culled from one of his books, with the preface by the great man himself, with my thoughts interjected.

Ernest Hemingway ‘Mount Everest Special’ peanut butter and onion sandwich

“So make a sandwich will you, please?

“Sure. What kind of sandwich?

“Peanut butter and onion if there’s plenty of onions.

“Peanut butter and onion it is, sir.

“He handed a sandwich, wrapped in a paper towel segment, to Thomas Hudson and said, ‘One of the highest points in the sandwich-maker’s art. We call it the Mount Everest Special. For Commanders only.’

“In the calm, even on the bridge, Thomas Hudson smelled his breath.

“Don’t you think it’s a little early in the day?

“No sir.”

Islands in the Stream, by Ernest Hemingway

 

Ingredients

Two slices of white bread.

Peanut butter.

One onion, preferable Vidalia or other sweet onion.

 

Special note:

Visually inspect bread. If green is evident, bread is moldy. Go to store and get fresh loaf of bread. If financially challenged, scrape off the green.

Visually inspect and sniff peanut butter. If green is evident or smells odd, go back to store and get fresh peanut butter. If really broke, sift out the non-green.

Check onion for green or black. If evident … oh, well, you know the drill.

 

Preparation

Spread peanut butter on one side of each slice of white bread.

Thinly slice onion, and place appropriate number of slices on one slice of bread.

Combine, and eat.

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