Mr. Foodie and I are lucky enough to live on a canal that flows through to the open ocean. Many homes in the keys are perched on canals instead of on open water because waterfront property is scarce and hella expensive (the insurance alone – yowza!). It surprises some visitors who picture island life as either waterfront or inland. Here in the keys, however, water access is a big deal. There is not an overabundance of ramps that exist to put your boat in the ocean, and the convenience of jumping into your boat from your backyard can’t be beat. Before the EPA decided differently, most habitable keys suffered blasting to create these man made canals and as such many of these islands look like thin strips separated by water and joined by bridges.
Now I’ve come to learn that living on a canal is a unique experience. Whereas most folks have privacy in their backyards, our backyard has minimal privacy. We can see across the canal into our neighbors’ yards and sometimes into their houses. We do have tropical plans growing large on either side, so there is some buffer between us and our left/right neighbors, but I can still see them when they’re out. The other thing I’ve learned is that water carries sound. I can hear an awful lot of what is happening up to two or three houses down thanks to the water. Because our canal has a gas station on it, we get a lot of boat traffic coming by once and going back again – we always wave if we’re out because that is what you do down here.
My favorite part of canal living is riding the 15-20 minutes it takes to boat out to open water. You have to go slow because it is a no wake zone in the canal (meaning your boat motor should not be creating too many waves as it passes by). I love this time because I get to peek into the backyards of all my neighbors. There are some spectacular sights to be seen – a giant pink beach chair in one, a yard full of iguanas in another, and my mother’s “dream boat” perched on brand new davits in yet another. Sometimes it is clear which house has permanent residents and which have vacationers. Often I like to speculate about the people that live in each home and what their lifestyles look like. For some the priority is apparent in the construction of their yard: fishing, diving, partying, relaxing. Most have limited grass and the usual suspects: palm trees, hibiscus, and aloe. I sit on the bow (that’s the tip of the boat), dangling my legs off the edge, my toes barely skimming the water, and look out and into my canal neighbors’ yards.
My other favorite part of living on a canal is peering into it from our dock throughout the day. Canals vary in depth from street to street and from key to key. Our canal happens to be quite shallow, but deepens toward the middle of it. We’ve been lucky over the years to see amazing marine life swim through – our most exciting encounter being a family of manatees. Manatees fascinate me because of their gentle natures, gigantic bodies, and their history as responsible for delusional sailor sightings of mermaids. Manatees crave fresh water despite living in the sea which is why they eat vegetation and are frequent canal visitors. This also results in harm to the poor creatures – irresponsible boaters going to quickly through the canal and not paying attention run over them. The family that visited us had many a prop mark on their backs. Manatees will swim right up to you if you put a hose in the water – remember they crave fresh water. We also pop out around dusk to look in at a large family of parrot fish because they are very pretty.
After returning home we had some leftover items to use up, so I cooked some rice and added sauteed onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes with some seasonings to it, stuffed it into bell pepper halves and baked it at 350 for 30 minutes, threw some cheese on top of each one and let it melt. Stuffed peppers are really wonderful. There are so many different recipes for them and it is a relatively healthy, tasty way to use up ingredients (and leftover rice). I ended up having still more leftover rice even after stuffing peppers, so I added black beans, some seasoning, and used it for part of the filling for taco night! Mr. Foodie got home late, jumped in the pool, had a beer with me and then we munched happily on tacos before passing out at 9pm like children lol
In fairness to us, Mr. Foodie has to work this weekend 😦 and I got up at 6am with him to do my run/walk. I had an excellent run/walk this morning exploring parts of the neighborhood I’ve never seen and then I exhausted myself clipping the unruly thorn bush in our front lawn. I seriously felt like I was trying to release sleeping beauty or something. Luckily the wasps left me alone and I only got freaked out once by a spider. Have a great weekend all!