I really had not planned to go back to Cedar Key until next winter, but several events happened independently of each other and, somehow, I found myself going off to spend three nights on the water. However, this time would be very different from previous visits. I rented a condo on the opposite side of the island from where I usually stay, plus it was to be a "big weekend" for Cedar Key.
My seven year old granddaughter was with me part of the time and she'd just enjoyed a swim in the pool.
Saturday morning was the beginning of the largest Cedar Key event; the annual Spring Art Show. I walked towards downtown, not really knowing what to expect.
The exhibits were fairly nice. I saw hand-blown glass, lots of photography, painting, wood-working, and hand woven baskets. I even ran into Gainesville artist, Virginia Chen, whose cards I have sent to a several Anyport members over the past few years.
The only problem was with the crowd and the closeness of the exhibits. People were packed in and it was hard to stop and look at the displays. Basically the beginning, the end, were the only places that were open.
I don't typically photograph displays because many artists don't like to have pictures taken of their work, but this painter saw my camera and encouraged my to snap away.
Though I've seen horseshoe crabs all my life, I learned a few new things about them on this trip. Here's a small one the University of Florida students from the Seahorse Island biology station had at their booth. I asked the student to turn it upside down so I could photograph the underside, which looks totally different from what you might expect.
I'll have more to say about horseshoe crabs later.
While the art show was going on, many people were also enjoying the water and the "beach" at the city park.
The marina parking lot was filled with boat trailers. Despite the windy conditions a lot of fishermen had ventured out onto the water.
Automobiles and motorcycles lined every street, and local restaurants and stores seemed to be doing a bustling business.
I didn't see a lot of children there, but there were activities geared to the young.
Another beautiful glimpse of a place that is to me terrifically exotic. Nature is the star for me here the wildlife--it's been ages since the last time I saw a cardinal--and the surreally beautiful sunset. The red cedar must be very different from the western red cedar which is a very common tree where I live. Are there any forests of it left there?
What to say that hasn't already been said? Such a tidy place teeming with fabulous wildlife but oh so flat! Having grown up in flatland myself, I end up craving even the merest hillock, but those are in short supply all along the Gulf Coast.
The blue skies and sunset are a pure joy to behold.
Questa, your comment about the photo in #5 caused me to go back and look for it. I knew I liked that picture, but hadn't really thought about why. It's all the blue, of course!
Thank you for your kind words, fumobici. I'm surprised you don't have cardinals in the northwest. Here we have lots and I can usually spot two pair outside my back door each morning and late afternoon. I'll try not to take them for granted from now on.
As for the red cedars, I've seen many single trees scattered all over, but never forests of them. I've never been across to Atsenie Otie Island where they had been harvested. I suspect there are many left there, and on other nearby islands, but nothing like there used to be before they were harvested to make pencils. I know the islands, which you can see in many of my water photos, are covered with lots of trees, I'm just not sure how many are cedar, but will find out.
Kerouac, yes, it's all pretty flat, but I'm always surprised how much I use the gears on my bike, especially when I go to the area in my next part of this report.
For me it is not just the glorious blues but the balance of sky and water and the sharp horizontal and vertical lines. The lines and starkness are eased by the soft wispy palm fronds top left bringing the eye in a diagonal curve touching the pointy end of the rocks, the greeny water to the rounded soft bush, bottom right. This section is in complete opposition to the distant geometric one, but you have balanced them so well.
Feeling the need for a little solitude, I went over to the cemetery part of the island and wandered around a bit. It's was certainly much quieter, plus it was on the opposite side of the strong wind that had been blowing for the past couple of days.
This was certainly a better area for kayakers.
On the way back I stopped by my friend's grave in the cemetery. Still no permanent marker after six months.
Late in the afternoon I walked back downtown and came across the most interesting sight of the whole weekend. I was crossing the little bridge by the marina and, looking down, I saw this.
Sex on the beach.
Horseshoe crab sex, that is.
Horseshoe crabs can nest year-round in Florida, with peak spawning occurring in the spring and fall. When mating, male horseshoe crabs move parallel to the shoreline on sandy flats and intercept females as they pass by. A male attaches himself to the top of a female’s shell by using his specialized front claws, in a position known as amplexus, and together they crawl to the beach. The male fertilizes the eggs as the female lays them in a nest in the sand. Some males (called satellite males) do not attach to females but still have success to fertilizing the female's eggs as they swarm around the amplexed pair.
A horseshoe crab orgy?
I realized, when looking through my photos, that one of the crabs had a tag from the Maryland Department of Marine Fisheries, so I went to their website and filled out a form to report my sighting.
Horseshoe crabs are an important part of the ecology of coastal communities. During the nesting season, especially in the mid-Atlantic States, horseshoe crab eggs become the major food source for migrating birds. Over 50 percent of the diet of many shorebird species consists of horseshoe crab eggs. Many bird species in Florida have been observed feeding on horseshoe crab eggs. In addition, many fish species rely on horseshoe crab eggs for food.
Horseshoe crabs are extremely important to the biomedical industry because their unique, copper-based blue blood contains a substance called Limulus amebocyte lysate. The substance, which coagulates in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins, is used to test for sterility of medical equipment and virtually all intravenous drugs. Research on the compound eyes of horseshoe crabs has led to a better understanding of human vision.
Yaay ~ another delightful visit to Cedar Key! It was fun to see this different aspect of it. Looks as though the many visitors were quite respectful of the place, although I can understand your pleasure when it returned to quiet normality.
Most interesting nature info. I had read that about horseshoe crab blood, but forgotten it, so was fascinated all over again.
Wonderful photos, as always from you. The pelican competition over the seagull was downright chilling, showing them off as the single-minded pterodactyl-like creatures they are. I love all the pictures with V and her rapt delight in everything about the island.