From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
Side Stories While on Assignment. Updates on Personal Projects, Too.

Archive for March, 2009

grill dinner

Along one of the coral dust and gravel lanes of a campground that’s just a few miles past the seven-mile bridge to the Lower Florida Keys, we pitched our tent. A few feet away was the site’s (number 57) wooden picnic table, and our neighbors’ RVs and “cabana” trailers surrounded us… their canopies strung with party lights shaped of globes, fish and alligators. The mid-March mornings and evenings were still sweater-cool at the Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina, but in mid-day everyone looked for shade, water or air conditioning.

We were lucky enough to join fishing parties on two of the three long Florida days of our visit… riding out with Captain Bookie Burns in his 23-foot Aquasport. The first day’s trip was to the jostling Atlantic side for a couple hours over a 20-foot bottom where we reeled in mostly Lane Snapper and Yellow Tail while the boat bucked against its anchor and the chum bag made its long line for us to cast into. Besides the catch (which was slow at the start, but just enough to keep things interesting), the floating chum also attracted a steady school of silvery ballyhoo, and then at one point, a cruising 4-5 foot shark. Further out, a hefty sea turtle bobbed up and looked around. When our bait of shrimp ran out, we motored nearer to shore to drop anchor in a calm bay about four-feet deep. The captain wanted to do some snorkeling, see if he could back some spiny lobsters into his mesh sea bag. Soon we’d added a couple of the claw-lacking lobsters to the cooler, and back at the campground that night, Peter Frank sliced a tail for grilling, alongside a whole grunt, with lime.

Sunshine Key 2009

The second fishing day was on the calmer Gulf of Mexico over a grassy, 14-foot bottom where the Jack Crevalle, mackerel, Mangrove Snapper and Lane Snapper kept us busy. We were only at Sunshine four nights/three days, but we got in a Keys groove… after fishing we’d swim from the campground dock in a mud and sand-bottomed wash between the Gulf and the Atlantic. Then we’d shower in the cinder block bath houses and head back to our campsite or someone else’s for cocktails or beer, and plates of hors d’oeuvres… hard boiled eggs, peanuts, crab dip, cocktail weiners on toothpicks, spears of asparagus. And then in the breezy night with coconut trees leaning, we’d sleep well and long on the air mattress with all screens open in the tent… once after a particularly good round of picnic table dominoes.

 – Sandy Lang, March 2009

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Food, Travel, Wild animals and places

along Route 1 between Miami and Lower Keys

We leave soon… won’t make it as far as Key West this time, like we did in winter 2007. Back then, for three nights in a row, I floated in a tile-edged pool of 90-degree water after dark – an old cistern – and looked up through palm trees at the stars. Twice, I was the only one in the pool. And the one night when two other couples were also there, I dunked under and still heard nothing but the sound of bubbles – not even a rooster crowing. It was magical.

One of Ole Papa Hemingway’s characters talked about Key West turning into “a beauty spot for tourists.” I agree that it was a certain destiny. What else could the warm island be – positioned as far to the South as it is – in a land of people who always want to go as far as they can?

This time we’ll camp near Bahia Honda Key, and I’m packing two or three bathing suits.

– Sandy Lang, March 2009

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For a couple of sweet years, a few years ago, I lived in downtown Charleston on Archdale Street on the third floor of an over-sized single house, circa 1812. My kitchen door opened to a wide piazza, a courtyard below. From my attic bedroom, I was eye-level with two 19th century church steeples… one so close you could pitch a penny to it.

I walked everywhere. Or pedaled the Canondale bike I’d bought from a College of Charleston kid, and never did peel off any of his band stickers. For Attache Magazine (the then in-flight magazine for USAir), I wrote a batch of stories about Charleston, including a block-by-block tour of some of the sidewalks, alleys and cemetery gardens I would walk through the most. A few months ago, I was asked to dust off that walking tour article and revise it for the first issue of 2009 for G Magazine, with new images by Peter Frank Edwards.

Walking Tour, Charleston, page 1

I am still, as ever, enchanted by our city. Click below to see a PDF file of the six-page story.

Walking Tour, Charleston

– Sandy Lang, March 2009



Polaroid spring

Polaroid, camellia

I know it’s still officially winter, but the fading camellias next to the new azalea and pear tree blossoms brought out the bees in the backyard yesterday. Warblers are stopping in too, on their way to somewhere. I shot a few Polariods with an old box of film, a 1960s camera… tucked each shot under my arm to process, peeled back the paper to these images.

Polaroid, studio2

Through the trees is the tiny backyard studio where I often sit to read and write, listen to birdsong, blues.

– Sandy Lang, March 2009

Image 01 Image 02 Image 03 Image 04