Monday, July 31, 2006

Evidence of Florida's past ride the tides like a ghost in a mist.Walking the swash line at the oceans edge reveals much about Florida's slow ascent to the surface. Sharks teeth, sting ray crushing plates and fragments of bone from fish, sea turtles and unknown large creatures noisily swirl in a kaleidoscope of muted color brushed ashore with each wave. To the experienced eye, though, the deep ebony shine of fossil bone or teeth stands out from the obliterative background of tan,white, red and yellow coquina of our high energy beaches. With sea level's periodic rise and fall, the bones of marine and land species traded places over millinia. I try to imagine our new Minorcan home millions of years ago, in transition from sparkling tourist-brochure tropical islands to the vast tropical savannah of a sunburned land, broken only by the shore and mazes of dense swamp. It is certainly evidence for the tragedy of mortality when you allow your mind to run, imagining what one could have observed over the millions of years that natural forces shaped Florida in preparation for the arrival of Minorcans (or so I fantasize). The evolutional forces that shaped this ever-changing landscape prodded and experimented. With the closing of the sea between Mexico and Panama, critters from both hemispheres mingled and changed the ecology in dramatic ways. Camels, horses, sloths and mammoths thrived here until recent times, only to go the way of all genomes, extinct. There relatives only far away at the closest today. Here only their bones bubble to the surface of our beautiful springs or quietly reveal themselves in slow, dark tannin waters of our Florida rivers...and with their demise came another opportunistic species...us.

The view from the Crack Shack
Rain! Beautiful rain! I finally got a good tropical down pour to quench my parched yard. It has been a relatively cool, but dry summer for my part of Florida. And anyway, I love rain. Nothing refreshes the Earth like good, clean rain. I always wonder at the interactions of the atmosphere when the rains finally come. There is no sunny day that can claim more beauty than a warm, clean tropical rain. It comes, it goes, the land steams and life surges back into withered, dry leaves and stems. Its wonderful. Its beautiful, and I love it. Anyway, a while back someone was asking for cultural things like recipes so here's one with a heritage. Mackey Edge is gone now for many years. He was a subsistance fisherman like many, if not most Minorcans here. He made his own cast nets and lived by using a seasonal knowledge of what natural bounty would put food on the table and money in his pocket. I'll write more about his family and our Minorcan history later. This simple recipe he gave me on the beach one late-summer evening at Porpoise Point while cast netting mullet (our official animal mascot and food source).
Mackey's Mullet

Take a good, fat roe mullet approx. 2lb. (a black or striped mullet (Mugil cephalus)
Gut the scaled,fish and clean the body cavity,leave the roe in.
Salt/pepper the body cavity
Fill belly with a fat slab of smoked bacon, a pat of butter and one or two datil peppers (depending on your heat tolerance, one will make most men cry)
Wrap in foil and bake at 325 F for 30 minutes or until fish flakes.
Drink beer, eat and laugh with your family.

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