Monday, March 5, 2007

Boca Grande, Florida, March 2007

I was in Boca Grande over the weekend, visiting a friend who is hugely pregnant and about to have a baby daughter. She had a baby shower, and several mutual friends attended, so for me the event was a combination baby-welcoming, reunion and vacation in the sunshine!

My friend's family has a beautiful house near the southern tip of Boca Grande, a barrier island that separates Charlotte Harbor from the Gulf of Mexico. My room overlooked the wide beach and a state park that includes an old, historic lighthouse at the very end of the island. I could lie in bed at night with the sliding door open, listening to the sound of the waves, and looking out every once in a while at the distant light's gentle strobe. Pretty amazing!

These photos show one of my favorite streets on Boca Grande, Banyan Street. It's lined with huge old trees that form a dark canopy, a merciful relief from the insistent Florida sun.

Until recently, Boca Grande was overrun by feral iguanas. You used to see them everywhere, flashing in and out of the undergrowth and sunning themselves on the footpath that runs up the center of the island. They were exotics, introduced, I suppose, by a pet owner who released them into the wild, and they were a nuisance. The town has recently been trapping them, and during this visit I only saw three. Most of the time, I saw native lizards like this little anole, sunning itself on a banyan's trunk.

It was a terrific trip. I'm happy for my friend Tricia and her soon-to-be-born daughter, whose name is still kind of up in the air. And it was great to see my friends Cherie (who's just turning 40...I mean, um, 35) and Jay as well.

I always love Florida so much when I visit, particularly under ideal circumstances such as these. The palm trees, the seashells on the beach, the smell of the salty, marshy air, the heavy morning dew. I can see why people flock there in droves. Fortunately, as remote as it is, Boca Grande has retained a lot of its charm.

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