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It rained all day Friday so no beach activities at all (for me). Nancy decided to bring in some Chinese food after bridge so we didn’t even eat out; most of the places we eat are big on outdoor eating anyway. It was still raining when we got up Saturday morning so we just packed up and scooted. Including a stop for breakfast and a $200 shopping spree at Publix, we were home and unpacking the car by 10:30. We have the whole process so organized now that we can pack or unload the car in under 15 minutes.

I was anxious to see the total rainfall in our gauge and wasn’t surprised to see it at 3.5” with more on tap for the day. We ended up Saturday night with 4” total for the week. There was a major tree branch down on the porch and the dead bay we knew had toppled, missed the house by only a few feet. It must have been hidden from view behind some living trees or I would have cut it down long ago. Joey, Tommy and Mark will be up here tomorrow morning, so I’ll just wait for the able bodied assistance to clear out the debris. Down at the lake things weren’t quite so good. I lost the top of a cooler and both covered boats had taken on a fair amount of water. No sinkings or anything that drastic but still, more water than I would have expected. I guess the wind must have been blowing hard out of the west and perhaps some lake wave action broke over the transom. Alls well though and I suspect my cooler top will show up later down at the end of the lake. A large dead bay tree that George and I had been debating whether to chop down or let nature take it’s course is no longer up for debate. It’ll take a bit to clean that one up but it’s mostly in the lake and hopefully will attract plenty of fish in the future.

The garden really grew in my absence. Almost all of the broccoli raab were over the top – blossomed out/bolted. The spinach totally played out as did most of the romaine lettuce. Weeds galore but that was no surprise other than the rapid growth, no doubt due to the continuous rain and lower temps. The first row of corn planted is now waist high, the pole beans are over top of the lattice and the cucumbers are reaching the first level of the lattice. Barbara picked all the carrots from the second patch but there’s still an untouched patch of probably 75 to go. Loads of green tomatoes. The focus for the next couple of weeks will be using up the greens – collards, swiss chard, and Kale – in the new juicer. Fingers cross that the new, heat resistant lettuce varieties and the New Zealand spinach will provide greens for the machine all summer long. I’ll give a full report on how that works out in the next posting.

The reason all the boys will be up Sunday is for the trek to Gainesville for Simon’s graduation. At one point, a few weeks ago, it was hit and miss whether he’d come thru with Organic chemistry but he studied hard, aced the final, and scored 100% on a make-up test. Whew, glad we’re through that.

Just Fishin’ and Eatin’

On Tuesday I hooked up with an old fishing buddy up towards St. Augustine and we fished the Matanzas River. Great day; Loads of large ladyfish, a few jack, a few blues and a spanish mackeral. That makes up for the poor surf fishing so far. After a reasonable start, all the surf has yielded is a couple of sharks, really sharklettes, a catfish, and a micro size whiting. It’s not for lack of trying. By day’s end, I’m totally worn out from casting, reeling in, and stalking the beach. The past couple of afternoons ended with monster storms which gave me a great excuse to get back inside and rest.

Last night was Wacky Wings Wednesday at the Pier. We sat there dripping after running in a torrential downpour to the Funky Pelican. It was probably less than 50’ from where we parked to the entrance but that was enough to drench us. After we sat down, it actually started hailing and blasting out some serious lightning so we had a real nature show while munching on the wings and quaffing happy hour brews. Fish and chips at the Golden Lion next.

George called to tell us that we had a couple of trees come down in, what he described as a microburst. No damage but some cleanup work ahead of me when we get home Saturday. They lost power a couple of times, once for about 3 hours so being here is not so bad. He also reported over 2” of rain since Monday so I don’t have to worry about him watering the garden, that’s for sure. The forecast is for more rain on Friday and Saturday.

The right side of my body is probably in an over developed state or soon will be. I’ve got a surf casting outfit that would be considered light by surf gear standards but heavy otherwise. It’s a 10’ rod with sufficient heft to handle 3-4 oz weights and an accompanying reel that handles a couple hundred yards of 30# test line. The whole outfit probably weighs in at 3-4 pounds. To cast it a couple hundred feet into the surf with a 2 oz lure requires a full body effort with every ounce of strength I have available. When I got here on Saturday, I would start to wear out after a dozen casts and felt it the next day in my shoulder and arm. By the end of the week I was casting non stop for an hour before my body said quit. Last night I gave up running out of sunlight, not arm strength and didn’t need even one aleve to quell the aching. Too bad the trip is ending just when I’m getting in shape.

I’ve got a candidate for the endangered species crowd. There’s almost never a time when I’m on the beach that I can’t spot at least one school of bottle nose dolphins and that’s anywhere on the beach in Florida. When we were fishing the Matanzas river earlier this week we were almost always within a few hundred feet of a pod and several times were within 50’. It didn’t matter where we were and we covered quite a lot of water – often a couple miles between fishing one spot to another – and it was always the same, a substantial pod of feeding dolphins. It would seem to me that the manatee crowd should add dolphins to their list of endangered critters and have more slow speed areas added to the rivers. This is flipper we’re talking about.