Almost a Week at the Beach
Tropical storm Debby was kind to my best friend’s beach cottage on Anna Maria Island (AMI), but not so kind to the beach itself. As we crested the familiar path lined with sea oats to view the beautiful white sandy beach, we saw an immediate three-to-four-foot drop-off and then barren shore to the water’s edge. Debby had taken out the glimmering soft white sand and in its place, deposited unrecognizable crushed shells.
Expensive to restore at an estimated $19 million, the Manatee County natural resources director has said renourishment of the Island’s middle beaches will not begin until 2014 or early 2015. Aside from the potentially negative impact on the area’s tourism, Debby’s toll on shorebird and sea turtle nests has been devastating. The storm claimed all 368 shorebird nests on AMI – of which 355 were black skimmer nests, a species of special concern. In addition, 15 least tern and four snowy plover nests, both threatened species, were destroyed. Exactly how many of the 180 sea turtle nests were ruined was reported June 27 in a local newspaper as unknown.
Sadly, along with the nests it seems the shorebirds are gone, too. Wonderful Wally was unable to find a single skimmer, tern or plover. However, the large population of commonly-called Florida green parrots appeared to be unaffected by the tropical storm. They were plentiful and as noisy as ever!
Originally from South America, these wild parrots live on the Island year round and, in fact, have established themselves from Florida to Illinois. Exported here as pets and later released by owners, with at least one well-documented (presumably accidently) massive release in the Northeast around 1967, the green parrot (Myiopsitta monachus) has a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years.
Rather than kill the parrots, South American countries exported them to the United States to prevent the birds from destroying agricultural crops. AMI is an ideal environment for these pretty birds – no crops to destroy here. Wonder how Illinois farmers are coping? Homeowners on the island hang birdfeeders, so they are well fed. With the American flag in the background, this photo taken by Wonderful Wally is a great addition to our Fourth of July vacation album – our second year to celebrate with my best friend at Anna Maria.
My friend and I arrived at her cottage a few days in advance of Wally who came on Monday. Fortunately, the cottage sustained no damage and we had only trash and debris from flooded streets and small tree limbs to clean up from the wrath of Debby.
We spent two full days raking and trimming, and were bagging the last of two huge six-inch diameter and easily 15-foot tall Bird-of-Paradise offshoots. Our biggest challenge was guiding the falls away from the house – and our heads!
We were so pleased with our prowess. The next day when the stopper in the bathroom sink needed replacement Nana and her friend were confident we could become successful plumbers. We purchased all the parts needed from Ace Hardware. After removing the old parts and understanding more fully how it all went together (package directions were confusing), we made a second trip to the hardware store. Learning the old horizontal rod had disintegrated, explaining the lesser length, we were prepared to tackle assembly of the new parts. It was not a cinch. Nonetheless we finally did it! However, neither of us is ready to hire on as a lumberjack or plumber.
My friend introduced Nana and Wonderful Wally to several new restaurants on the island. I would have to say Duffy’s Tavern is the best choice for burgers, and we will always return to the Rod & Reel Pier for the onion rings. The grouper sandwich was excellent, too – but the onion rings are to die for, seriously.
Advertised as the second best place to eat (sister restaurant Beach Bistro is supposedly number one), “Eat Here” was superb. I would guess it’s an unusual occurrence for three diners in the same party to order exactly the same meal. Yet, that’s what we did. The cobia topped with lobster and crawfish, side corn casserole and steamed arugula was an excellent choice. We were not disappointed.
We also shared an appetizer that was new to Nana’s palate. The tempura beets were unique and flavorful. And what I didn’t know about beets I learned from our waitress. The darker red or deep purple was the better known “red” beet variety, while the brighter reds were a “yellow” beet. The sweetness level was totally different, with the yellow being more robustly sweet.
On our last full day, we celebrated the Fourth of July beginning with the parade. After lunch at Duffy’s, our intentions were to swim and enjoy the beach. With the hot temperatures, we opted for a power nap and that pretty much took care of the afternoon. Our zest for another trip to the beach subsided until sunset and the fireworks display that evening. There is no better place on earth to celebrate the Fourth of July than on the beach with a beautiful sunset and fireworks all around you. Spectacular!
Glenda Mink, a self-taught copycat who learns from others, is now officially retired after 22 1/2 years with Polk County government. She co-operates her oldest son’s successful publishing company with soul mate (now also retired) Wonderful Wally. Nana to two teenage grandchildren, Cameron and CayLeigh, she describes herself as an “expert on nothing,” but hopes readers will find inspiration and a few good ideas from re-invented projects for use around home and garden, along with musings about this and that.