Spoonbills, White Pelicans & Seashells, o my!

I’ve wanted to return to Sanibel Island since I originally left it after a day visit in 1964. The island has been legendary as a mecca for masses of seashells on its shoreline deposited there because of its unusual placement in the Gulf of Mexico, close to Ft. Myers, FLA.

In the 60’s we took a small ferry to the island, as we noted with some sadness that a few large bridges were being built to connect the island to the mainland.  At that time, as I remember it, the island was largely undeveloped, the beaches knee deep in alluring seashells, largely untouched.  The shells were almost overwhelming in variety.

Sanibel takes some getting to, but when I learned there’s now a ferry from Key West, I became determined to check it out again after 60 years. Who knew what we would find or if, once the bridges were complete, we’d find the island we were initially drawn to now a fading image, something like our younger selves?

Ft. Myers Beach

It was easy to sense that Ft. Myers Beach, where we landed for our first night after the ferry ride, had a dark side, despite the bright citrus colors most buildings were painted as a colorful ploy to suggest upbeatness.   Seamy bars lived in each “resort” where one could disappear for a lifetime. Alfred Hitchcock could have used it brilliantly.as a movie set.  If I had been five years old, I might have thought it was beautiful.

Someone on the staff had a talent for making towel animals.  Poor bunny.

I woke up in the morning grateful for not having any bedbug bites and eager to get the hell out of there and on to Sanibel!

Sunrise, sunset. Updated.

sunset on Sanibel

No way I would have recognized Sanibel. I felt grateful that it obviously was being taken care of, despite the inevitable development after the bridges came on the scene.

There are no food chains, no billboards, all tasteful but uninspired building and lush landscaping, and groomed residents, you get the picture.  We drove through a beautiful  wildlife sanctuary where it was easy to spot oblivious roseate spoonbills and white pelicans luxuriating in the late afternoon sun. 

It’s a mid -western retiree’s heaven.  Bicycles abound on the long straight roads through the mangroves, but the real excitement takes place at the beach at the crack of dawn, as obsessed shellers greet the day by beach combing for special shells, still fairly abundant.

Nature’s Show

Nature is the show here in this natural paradise.  Humanity has  intruded in a respectful and fairly sterile mode of development. There are no inspirational flashes of creativity that are apparent to me.  They are setting aside large tracts of land and mangroves in a continuing effort to preserve.  I admire that.  But where is the artist’s input? Those in charge have played it very safe.  I understand that.  But a little EDGE would have been fun and stimulating and have really added to the mix.  It’s not too late. See Naoshima and Setouchi Triennale.

 

the White Pelican Gang
Roseate spoonbills!

Speaking of the beach, it’s gorgeous and uncrowded, walkable for miles, which I was too lazy to do. We watched sunrise and sunset from our motel room window and a full moon rise in the early evenings. Perfectly satisfying.

View from our motel room, The Shalimar.

When I casually asked my husband if he would like to return, he said, “been here, done that. ” Not the response I’d hoped to hear, but I understood.  His fishing attempts here yielded nothing, what did I expect?

I would still like to return, but realize it probably won’t happen.  It’s just that time of life.

Still Possible to be Insulted!

It goes without saying that our Western bodies are larger than most Japanese bodies.  By Western standards, THEY are VERY slender.  In fact their size is generally so uniform, that when shopping for clothes, there’s often only one size available in women’s wear. I frequently see an item of clothing I’d like to try, only to discover it’s in one size only, and that one size is decidedly too small for this woman. I probably could have fit into it at age 16 or 17.  Such is life.

As a relatively familiar shopper in Japanese department stores, I’m quite sure the salespeople are instructed to go out of their way to try and be helpful to their foreign guests.  They always make sure to speak the Japanese word for welcome when I walk past them or within hearing distance  This is a nice touch, but I also see them trying to decide whether to approach me or not, if I linger or show interest in something.

Along with the word of welcome, I prefer just a nod or smile of recognition acknowledging that I’m in their territory and they’ve noted it.  I wish I could tell them, “I’ll know where to find you if I need you. ” I HATE a hoverer.  It can drive me to descend to rudeness very quickly.  I realize the language gap puts them at a disadvantage.  Ball in my court, please. Usually all goes quite well and we end up with a smiling transaction.  win/win, so to speak.

So it was that as I was on my way to lunch at a dep’t. store restaurant,  I got a bit distracted, as is my tendency, by a For Sale sign. I was just casually checking it out.

The saleswoman, who must have been nearby, sniffed a target and began to hover and smile too intensely,.  Initially, she tried  to show me that some of the items I was looking at had half of an expandable elasticized waist which, if her luck held, might just fit me. I could see that without her pointing it out to me. I tried to move away from her.  But she was not to be tossed aside. Undaunted, she showed me a second item.  Not an item that I’d picked up, but one she decided might be suitable for me.  Arigatou gozaimasu (thank you) I quickly said to her, hoping she could tell from my attitude that I was just being polite and was not interested in her help. Undeterred, she pulled out the big gun.  It was a pair of pants whose waist was completely elasticized.  To my horror, with two hands, she pulled apart the waist band to its maximum expansion to assure me it was large enough to fit a baby elephant! (my interpretation) And therefore…

I immediately fled her department, telling her in English to leave me alone.  I’m not sure if I added anything else, but I hope not.  I was amused at some level but felt shame and anger on another.  I really wanted t hit her.  I know she was just trying to help, but she didn’t pick up my signals and went off the rails.

I quickly doused my pain adding a piece of chocolate cake to my lunch order.

 

Use It or Lose It!

Many years ago, in the summer of my youth, I designed an exercise and movement program for older adults.  I even convinced Georgia Public television to film me leading the programs with the intention of broadcasting them as a series and selling them to Senior Centers. It was successful and it was gratifying.  It also became popular. Continue reading “Use It or Lose It!”

Things My Mother Told Me

It’s just as easy to do something right the first time. (Not true.  The trick is to try again.)

It’s just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor man.  (no comment.)

Let that be a lesson for you.  (It usually was)

Don’t come crying to me when…( I rarely did, as I remember.)

‘All right, but don’t come crying to me when you fall down.’

If you can’t say something nice about anyone, don’t say anything.(Still think of his one.)

You’re so selfish. (OUch!  hey I was a teen ager!  but, Essentially correct.)

You’re capable of being right on top. A straight A student if you really tried. (I didn’t really care, nor did I really try.)

I bend over backwards for you and all I get is a kick in the pants. (I think she must have meant forward.)

Don’t wear dirty sneakers.  ( I just ignored this mandate.)  Along with, “Go upstairs and change your shoes!)

Mothers have eyes in the backs of their head. (I believed it!) (Still do.)

I put you on a pedestal and you knock yourself off.  (so true, I didn’t like being on a damn pedestal.)

Waitressing:  It’s not a job for a nice Jewish girl. (The answer I’d get when I asked to go to the Cape to waitress for the summer with a non-Jewish friend.)

OK, what are YOURS?