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Midsummer Days and Nights

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Even in  this heat, there are things to savor in summer.   By Hannah Wallace   Humidity is such a part of Florida living, especially in the summertime, that breaking a sweat between the front door and the car at 8:30 a.m. is the way you expect to start the day. But earlier this week […]

August 29, 2007


Even in  this heat, there are things to savor in summer.
 
By Hannah Wallace
 
Humidity is such a part of Florida living, especially in the summertime, that breaking a sweat between the front door and the car at 8:30 a.m. is the way you expect to start the day. But earlier this week I got to the street and was greeted instead by a cool, dry breeze and the view across the bay from Indian Beach, which was so crystal clear that the bridge between Lido and Longboat seemed just a few feet away. I know it’s still August, still hurricane season, still sweltering and all, but maybe that brief respite was this year’s first glimpse of fall.
 
That dry air—the way it smells, even—brings about my favorite weather-triggered memory: Walking home from the school bus stop on a super-clear, cloudless afternoon to see my father in the front yard putting up Halloween decorations, assembling his sawhorse-mounted Headless Horseman that was posed every year in mid-gallop in front of the kitchen window, threatening to pitch a jack-o-lantern at trick-or-treaters.
 
It occurs to me that Halloween may be my favorite holiday for no other reason than that subtle transition to fall weather. Just another thing to look forward to.
 
For the time being, yes, it’s still summer, but I’m tired of cowering in the air conditioning; and this past weekend’s trip to Disney, while tons of fun, underscored a yearning to see actual Florida nature—as opposed to Lego dragons in a man-made lake.
                                                                                                          

For whatever reason, I recently got a craving for a cast net. As a kid I never had much patience for line fishing, but cast netting offered immediate satisfaction—and there were always mullet to be pulled out of the bay. Alabama boy CCB was intrigued by this. A quick search online and two days later, his very own cast net arrived on his doorstep.

 

CAST-NET SUNSET: How to be active and relaxed all at the same time.

 
That same evening after work we went to South Lido Beach for a tutorial, leaving dress shoes in the car and rolling up work slacks to our knees before wading into the warm water. Most people had abandoned that end of the beach for sunset views further north; there was hardly a sound beyond the lapping waves and the wind in the Australian pines.
 
I demonstrated the cast method I’d learned as a kid (and hadn’t practiced since): Rope and net in one hand, a weight from the bottom of the net in the other hand and another weight in my mouth. I spun around and flung myself like a shot putter—the 12-foot net splashed in a near-perfect circle on the first try. Satisfied with nothing more than a few bait fish on each cast, we stayed on the beach for an hour, observed by no one but the herons and a couple of bold raccoons.
 
This past Tuesday night was even better: a veritable pyrotechnic display of lightning attacking Longboat Key while bright-green phosphorescence rolled in with the waves, all of it overseen by the full moon. We walked out on the low-tide mud and made flashes of phosphorescent fireworks in the water with handfuls of sand. It actually made me grateful I’m not in a cooler clime.