Thursday, August 24, 2006

The events described in the Epic of Gilgamesh may have been the news of the day for the very earliest Minorcans on their island home in the Mediterranean. As the geologic battle of the Bosphorus raged from glacial melt pouring into the Mediterranean to the final burst of sea water over the land dam that filled and salinated the Black Sea we know today, people knew of and lived in Minorca. At the same time, 5,000 to 12,000 years ago, the first humans walked the savannas of Florida, our future home.

The "pre-history" (an unusual and egotistical term) is varied and dynamic. More than 5,500 years ago, a sophisticated people left behind evidence of a highly evolved culture. This included massive stone "taulas", monuments that rivaled the Druid monuments of the mainland. Large, boat shaped ossuaries called "navetes" revealed their religious nature as well. In time, Minorca became known as "Nura" to the Phoenicians, home to their God "Baul". If a maritime theme is becoming apparent, it is true even today. St.Augustine's Minorcans have always been bound to the sea, its bounties and its treachery. This caught up with the Minorcans during Roman times when Minorcan pirates raised the ire of Rome... and Rome invaded to end the plundering of Roman traders. In more peaceful times following that, Minorca was a Jewish community until about 418 A.D.. That was followed by an occupation by Vandals, who were replaced by an Islamic state by 1231. On 17 January 1287, Aragonian Alfonso III seized the island, enslaving the muslims and selling them into the history of ethnic cleansing. Our Spanish heritage was emerging. By the 1700's England had been ceeded Minorca. Minorca's strategic location made it a prize worth fighting for and Minorca was lost to the French in June of 1756. As a reward, the British Captain Byng, who commanded the campaign was summarily shot aboardship to appease British public sentiment about the loss. The French occupation didn't last long, but atleast they left with a culinary prize, the sauce of the Minorcan capital city of Mao (Mahon). Corrupted today as mayonaisse. More on that later.

The View from the Crack Shack

It must be time to go shrimpin', cause God A'mighty them grackles are getting ugly. A lot of people say Florida doesn't have any seasons. But any good Minorcan can tell you that simply isn't true. As Florida seasons change, I'll try to relate some of the tell-tale signs of seasonal change in our new Minorcan home. Grackles are lost birds. First of all, they hang out on the beach like seagull wannabees, but often with less class. They get called black birds by the un-initiated because they're black...most of the time. In the spring, when males are really in the mood, I've counted a many as 6 different colors of irridescence in their plumage. The females are a perfect mocha with yellow eyes and stingy as a smocked nun. Come August, they are just plumb ugly. Tailless, colorless and just as close to mangy as a bird can get. But, thats good, 'cause when that happens, Pure Florida and his family know it's time to go scalloping on the Gulf coast. On the East Coast, Minorcans know its time to throw cast nets for shrimp in the St.Johns River and other secret spots. By the time the grackles start to regain their splender, or at least some veil of feathers, the mullet run will be in full swing, another measure that hurricane season is at its peak. When the mullet roe goes from bloody to fat, the harvest moon will light the way to the last cast of the day. Seasons come and seasons go in Florida just like any place else, you just gotta know what to look for. God, do I feel sorry for those grackles.