October In Bloom

We spent this past week at our favorite little hideaway on an elbow of Big Pine Key. It’s an island 45 minutes from Key West, but a world apart. It’s quiet here. There are no cruise ships or t-shirt shops. We see just as many key deer as people on our walks. It’s not fancy, either. The landscape isn’t manicured, just naturally beautiful with native palms, royal poincianas, and gumbo limbos. The Gulf and the Atlantic swirl around us, but the water looks and feels like the Caribbean Sea that’s just over the horizon.
Our annual family stone-crabaganza was canceled last year after Hurricane Irma swept through here and left behind a nightmare. It was a long year and a massive cleanup. The photos of the Panhandle remind us how far we’ve come. Almost every house has a new roof. Everyone’s still patching and painting, including us. The mangroves are turning green again. We’re back, the key deer are back, and thankfully, so are the stone crabs and lobster. Oh, and the iguanas are back, too. Here’s a foot skin shed Toby found in the yard.So with even greater appreciation for this place we love so much, we dove into stone crab season like maniacs this week.We ate well. Besides all the great seafood, we all showed up with tropical fruit, either homegrown or from Robert Is Here.My first black sapotes, my last couple mangos (found while trimming the tree), key limes, passion fruit, papaya, avocado, dragon fruit.I made some good smoothies in the Osterizer blender my mom bought with S&H green stamps she collected shopping at Publix each week when I was a kid. It’s still going strong. And we ate one amazing sugar apple, which tastes like tropical homemade ice cream. So creamy and sweet.Out of this world.Photo credit to my brother.
Thanks to Mom & Mark for putting up with us.

Until next time, Big Pine Key…


8 Comments October In Bloom

  1. bt October 22, 2018 at 10:50 am

    It was an awesome week! I wish I was still there. Safe travels, see you soon.

    1. suwanneerose October 22, 2018 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks to you and Finn for all the good times! I miss you both already.

  2. Mary Lou Walsh October 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I love your blog since I discovered it and look forward to each new post. I just moved from MA to Pine Island (St James City). I am loving this new lifestyle and looking forward to trying new foods, esp. fruits, hitting the farm markets in the winter and living a snow-and freezing temp-free life. To look out across the narrow channel and think ‘I can just paddle across that channel to Sanibel’ or hop on a boat and visit countless islands, there isn’t enough time in the day to plan it all!

    1. suwanneerose October 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Hi there, Mary Lou! Welcome to St. James City. You found a very special place to call home! Sounds like you’re already making the most of island life. St. James City is where we grow most of the fruit and vegetables I feature on this blog. I’ve got plenty of recipes to keep you entertained for a long time. Happy paddling!

  3. Lorris October 22, 2018 at 11:18 am

    All your pics make me feel like I’m right there, smiling, eating, drinking and soaking up the full beauty of Big Pine Paradise!
    Thank you 🙂

    1. suwanneerose October 22, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you, Lorris! We had a great time. It really is paradise!

  4. Jane October 23, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Didn’t the sharks dampen your enthusiasm for the crab diving?

    1. suwanneerose October 23, 2018 at 10:31 am

      Not a bit. Those nurse sharks are regulars in the canal behind the house. They hang out by the dock next to the fish cleaning table waiting for scraps. I love watching them. We see occasional sharks while diving for lobsters and stone crab, along with barracudas and moray eels. We always give them space, and if they act creepy we get back in the boat and go to a new spot.

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