The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 43 - August 10, 2011


Sure is hot - again


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Tropical martinis made with a variety
of fruit can beat the "Sure is hot"
syndrome in Florida.



W.O. Mitchell was "the great Canadian novelist".

He described Canadians as a people who lived in heated boxes and travelled in heated boxes on wheels.

This time of year us Floridians are living in AC cooled boxes.

Growing up in Nova Scotia we had what was called a "damp cold."

Damp cold is supposed to be worse because it creeps insidiously through all layers of clothing. In Nova Scotia it would go down into the 30s in November and stay there for six months of rain and snow and sleet.

The snow would fall overnight and then it would rain and sleet during the day and then freeze again around supper time. People would sit in their big bay windows and watch their neighbors fall up and down the street on the ice.

Nova Scotians who run out of money go to Alberta to dig themselves out of debt. Work in the oil fields sucks and French fries are 10 bucks but you can make 30 dollars an hour doing nothing.

Alberta is bejeezuz cold but the Alberta Chamber of Commerce is quick to tell you it is a "dry cold."

When it is 60 below it cheers everybody up to know it's a dry cold. It will take your nose off in 15 minutes. People amuse themselves by spitting and listening to it "click" just before it hits the ground.

Moving south was the smartest thing I ever did. I can be a complete idiot the rest of my life and my children will still owe me for that one.

August and September are the two months we pay up for not having to live up north.

It "sure is hot" here in August and September.

One of my favorite deep summer pastimes is the "sure is hot" game.

I cruise by the hardware store about two in the afternoon. There will be people there who have broken something and have to leave their air-conditioned homes to get stuff to fix it. Their patience is shot. It is worse than everybody else's because they had to leave the house.

When there are about a half dozen folks standing in line and looking all hot and grumpy I wait for a pregnant moment of oppressed silence and then, to no one in particular, I say - "Sure is hot."

This always generates a groan. Occasionally someone will shake his head and go "Arggh." A sufferer truly at their wit's end might break down and actually begin to weep.

Playing the "sure is hot" game passes the time but it takes more than that to get through a hot Florida summer. The ancient Irish tradition for ameliorating life's miseries is drinking.

Drinking is more socially acceptable if you do it stylishly with tropical martinis. My favorite from the Bistro Bar right now is a fresh pineapple tequila martini with a little jalapeño in the mix.

To create your own exotic martini simply pack sliced or crushed fruit in the bottom of a glass container - pineapple, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, crushed cherries or citrus.

Then pour your favorite liquid mollifier over the mix, seal it with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. The next day strain the liquor off into a shaker and add a pinch of sea salt or sugar or maple syrup. Pour in a shot of fresh juice, shake with ice, and then pour into a chilled glass.

Garnish with fresh fruit and a splash of pomegranate juice for sunset colors.

Sit back in the air-conditioning and sip and take solace. In another couple of months we will be living in paradise again and all those Canadians, Yankees and Michiganders will be freezing their cans off and we will look smarter than heck again.

Long distance swimmer surfaces


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Have you seen this manatee? Chessie is on the
move again, swimming all over creation and back.


For a Manatee County native, it goes without saying that there is no manatee more dear to the heart than Bradenton's own Snooty (formerly known as Baby Snoots), the oldest manatee born in captivity, who is now 63.

And we don't want to detract from long distance swimmer Diana Nyad's attempt to swim from Havana to Key West this month.

But there's a close runnerup in both the charm and athletic departments.

It's Chessie, the intrepid traveling manatee who made history in 1994 by making a long distance swim to Chesapeake Bay from Florida and being flown back to the sunshine state by the U.S. Coast Guard when it got too cold for him.

Like a reverse snowbird, he headed north again in the summer of 1995, setting a new manatee long distance swimming record, Nyad style, by making it to Rhode Island.

But there's always some young manatee trying to nab the spotlight, and his record has since been beaten twice, in 2006 by an unidentified manatee and in 2009 by a known manatee, both swimming to Massachusetts.

In 1996, Chessie ditched his transmitter off North Carolina, and went undetected until 2001, when he was spotted off Virginia.

Then he ran silent for 10 long years along his undisclosed underwater byways, until last month.

On July 12, Chessie was spotted again in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

It's a relief for Chessie watchers concerned about his fate during the Gulf oil spill of 2010.

And since the water is still warm there, there are no plans to rescue him - unlike most native Floridians, manatees can tolerate water temperatures down to 68 degrees.

Chessie watchers hope that he will begin heading south when the weather gets cooler. People can help by not providing food or water to manatees, which may prolong their stays when they should be on the move.

If you see a manatee in distress, call the Florida Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

And if you see Chessie, give him regards from Snooty and Diana.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper