Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cedar Key, Florida

Cedar Key is a quaint town off the beaten path, lost in time and perspective. Cedar Key is perched precariously on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico swaddled in salt marshes and mud flats. A time capsule left to fend for its future and past. The town is similar to the song, ‘A little bit country, and A little bit rock and roll.’ Boiling over with enthusiasm and feet stuck in the mud mixture of natives, renters and tourists.
Cedar Key is a working town whose livelihood depends on Mother Nature: not always a helpful participant. For many workers a tidy home and well kept yard is not an asset but a hindrance. The tourist’s seek clean lines, green grass and many amenities. A few of these can be found. Fisherman swarm in as if they were fish during spawning season. Mullet jump out of the water for reasons not clearly defined.
Cedar Key a place smothered by neglect and decay. Trash lines the ditches, the waterways and the odorous salt marshes. Dilapidated buildings cry silently with despair being their only salvation. Restaurants with bland food and overpriced menus litter the harbor like the feral cats.
Cedar Key boasts an unfriendly waitress who talks trash to her friends while ignoring the paying customers with her annoying 'youall' dialect. We want your money but in reality we don’t really give a flip about you. The sign outside the cafe boast ‘this is where the local eat.’ Then, try another cafe and a waitress sports a bubbly inviting attitude. Beckons you to return again and enjoy your stay.
A few campgrounds survive on the edge of destruction and denial barely making a statement. Broken roads filled with potholes, hollow dreams littered with debris, buildings in disrepair and a cottage on stilts in the final phase of death.
Cedar Key is a place overflowing with a salty ambiance and an air of yesteryear: where survival meets the economic decline and modern day mechanics. Sit on the lopsided dock and listen to the sounds of nature and man. Air boats flash by making a noisy statement next to the fishing boats that drift lazily with the tide. The orange evening sun explodes across the sky painting a mural of distinction. Birds cry in misery or perhaps ecstasy. The tides crash with a single purpose against the weary shoreline. Cedar Key ages with a less than graceful edge. In Cedar Key one can sit and inhale the salty air and listen to the music of nature and man and enjoy the fading rhapsody. Cedar Key is a special place where dignity and perseverance flow with the tides.

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