Saturday, January 10, 2015

Floridian foraging

This winter, after a trip even further north to visit friends in Connecticut, Vermont, and Canada, after Christmas, I was fortunate to head south at last with one of my oldest and dearest friends. The least expensive flights we could find were to Florida, and though Becky and I were both leery of the proliferation of pastel shorts and mobile homes, we could not resist the chance to be in a warm, sunny climate for a week. So we went.

After numerous flight delays and some misadventures with our first airbnb rental, we settled into things: long walks on the beach, cooking lots of fish and gorging ourselves on citrus, kayaking. On one of our final days in the Keys, as we headed out to run a couple of errands, Becky spied some low-growing banana trees. Sure, they were clearly on the edge of someone's yard, but c'mon, they weren't going to eat all of those... I kept an eye out for angry neighbors while Becky braved the potentially-tarantula-laden bunch to glean a few ripe ones for us to nibble on.

The next day, after a couple hours of pretty intense kayaking around the mangroves, narrowly avoiding getting pooped on by the many pelicans and cormorants and managing not to get stung by a beautiful but deadly Portuguese man-of-war, we noticed what appeared to be some ripe coconuts in the palms near where we'd pulled in. I was thirsty and they looked delicious. After some misguided attempts trying to climb the trees, then equally ineffective efforts to knock the coconuts out of the tree with some large rocks and chunks of wood -- most of which ended up perched high up in the branches next to the irresistible looking coconuts -- we hit on a foolproof strategy: using our paddles to knock the delicious treenuts down.

Success! And then, Lord of the Flies style, I smashed them against a nearby concrete slab. In the end, though the meat inside was not yet edible, we guzzled two green coconuts' worth of fortifying liquid and left the rest for the birds and lizards to feast on.

And vultures, apparently, though I didn't realize they were so abundant until we made our way to the Everglades on the last day of the trip....

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