Friday, October 30, 2009

No TREAT: The Horror Tale that Ties New Jersey and Sanibel Island

This is going to be a more somber post than most on this blog.

Although it is Halloween week-end, this is not meant to frighten.

In part it's my need to vent.

But mostly my need to spell out why/how Sanibel Island is such a special place.

I live in Essex County, New Jersey where for the last several years there has been a bitter divide among those who want to kill the deer in a nearby reservation and those who don't believe that the kill is humane or necessary.

Like most tales, there are many elements too lengthy to go into here, but suffice it to say that the emotions run high on this issue.

What runs low is the outcome, depressingly low, as the "powers that be" decide year after year that the deer must die. Despite alternatives available, the denouement is death to the deer.

OK, I've tipped my hand: I don't want the deer to be killed, not in this way, and not for the reasons given. And probably not for any reason.Yet, I have yet to hear that the alternatives to the kill are seriously considered, except by those who oppose the kill. There is little debate, little deliberation and, quite honestly, too little opposition to the kill. Those against are sincere and dedicated, but they are outnumbered. The principle is not the thing here: might makes right in Essex County, New Jersey.

That's where Sanibel Island comes in, if only in my mind.

Sanibel had for years adopted a policy of live and let live with its alligator population. In fact, when discussion did arise about killing off alligators, there was such an outpouring of emotion that those for killing were not only out numbered, they were drowned out with the crescendo of nay sayers. The alligators, said the opposition to the killing, were here first. We, the humans, must live with their presence.

But as the population grew in number and size, alarm also grew. There was one person killed some years ago that fanned the fires of concern, and when the next person died as a result of, not the attack itself, but an infection from the bite; even those dedicated to the concept of live and let live had to back down.

And so the largest of the gators were killed. How humane the killings were, I don't know, but they were successful. There have not been alligator attacks in quite some time though it is never wise to stray too close to the water sources on the Island and never is it allowed for humans to feed the gators. So there is a tacit agreement between the upright species and the long-tailed species to stay out of each other's way, and for the most part it is working.

But the process in coming to the conclusion that the gators needed some serious wild life management consideration was one no body could fault. No one wanted to kill them, it was purely a life or death situation. Even now, Islanders are reluctant to report when a gator comes close to their home as they don't want to be responsible for it's being killed as a potential danger.

So the extreme juxtaposition to me is the decision here in Essex County, New Jersey where little, if anything, stands in the way of slaughtering benign deer and the protective society of Sanibel where the sanctity of all life, alligators included, is paramount in the culture.

Sanibel is not just a place. It is a culture onto its own. It's also a state of mind. There is no other place like Sanibel.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Art of Window Cleaning on Sanibel Island

Tim Macko is my window cleaner for both my vacation rental Blind Pass Condo E201 and vacation rental home, Toucan House. Tim comes over twice a year for both properties, does a super job and sends me the bill. He's been doing this for at least 6 years, and he never disappoints.

Half way into the client/supplier relationship, it was obvious to me in our brief conversations that Tim was more than a window cleaner and I discovered that he is an artist as well. I have been saying for these half a dozen years, that I want to see the murals and art work he creates. In his affable way, Tim is enthusiastic about the prospect. But, always the but, my time on the Island is so diffused with the things Joe and I must do for the properties, friends we want to catch up with, and the explorations we can never get enough of, the opportunity to view Tim's work as never realized.

So I just now went on a little search on the internet to see if Tim has a website.

I did not find any, but found a delightful article on him in the Fort Myers "Florida Weekly" written back in December 2008.

To be sure, none of us are simply the reflection of what we do for a living. And certainly Tim is more than both a window cleaner and a local artist. He's a world traveller, has served in the peace corp, creates murals and wall finishes for clients in several cities, some far from the Island.

But, I do see a connecting thread between his business of window washing and the obvious love in his life, creating art. To me, it's more than a connection, its a reliance on each other. Art needs light to create beauty and without glass none of it could take place.

For an artist, light, clarity and vision are instrumental enablers to the creation process. So even more than wanting clean windows, Tim needs them, providing the same for all his clients. The interdependence between art, glass and beauty is crystal clear to me!

Now that I have seen his artistry in window cleaning, I really must see his art work in person!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sanibel Island is For the Birds!

The other day I received an email from a recent rental guest at my condo. He told me about some birds he was fortunate to see in Ding Darling as he had never seen them before.

Shortly after that, I received a news alert from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation reporting on some unusual avian visitors.

According to the SCCF news alert, the Island was, and perhaps still is, serving as a stopping point for migratory songbirds. They call this interim visit a "fallout".

The Foundation explained that hese fall outs occur when large flocks of birds get caught by frontal systems and are forced to “fall out” on the nearest land. These events happen every spring and fall to a greater or lesser degree but they vary greatly in occurrence at any one
location from year to year.

This fall out, as explained in the news alert, is one of the biggest on Sanibel in the last ten years, both in terms of number and diversity of birds. Generally, the birds will hang around for a day or two before continuing their migration into the Caribbean where they will spend the winter.

Birds seen in this fall, according to the SCCF, include: Blue-winged warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Redstart, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, Veery, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, and Eastern Wood Pewee.

Now that is an impressive list of seasonal visitors, I must admit, and my imagination is alive with thoughts of what the Island sounds like with so many song birds convening.

But then again, at any time of year, Sanibel offers wonderful bird sightings and wonderful bird sounds. It is an island, afterall, that is truly for the birds.