Greetings from the Gulf: November

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Thanking goodness and more (but not necessarily Father Time)

By John Morton

Ah yes, the Leaf Blower Lullaby. Now that’s how a real Siesta citizen finds peace these days. Blast away and I’m out like a light.

Or, a screaming chainsaw going 12 hours a day? Music to my ears. Encore! Encore!

Remember that outdated notion of falling asleep to the soft, soothing sounds of waves rolling onto shore?

That’s like, so early September of 2022. Get with the times, man.

By the way, doesn’t that feel like forever ago?

Today, give me the ear-splitting violence of a wood chipper set on 11. And this from a man who’s seen Fargo.

But that’s life here, post-Ian. Vegetation debris clean-up comes first. It’s where it’s at. It’s the new big thing, baby.

Now, I’m not one to pile on, but I do think it’s time we branch out. Bundle up. Start raking it in. Stick with it. Go out on a limb. Move at a faster clip. Make like a tree and leave. Call up Twiggy and, well, get twiggy with it.

Get downright trunk.

As for the future of all those fronds on the ground, I suggest we call a palm reader.

Anyway, it’s the time of year for giving thanks and I’ll start by simply saying thank goodness.  How can Siesta Key continue to dodge theses catastrophic storms? The idea that it’s got something to do with Indian burial grounds is, well, obviously exactly right. As someone who would normally scoff at such a thing, I now do hereby embrace such lore and legend. How can I not? I literally thought we were goners.

Chief Nokomis, keep up the great work.

By the way, if you’re an Ian and you’re dating an Irma, no babies please. Ivan the Terrible has been taken.

Speaking of names, you’ll recall we first got nervous a few weeks prior to Ian, when Hurricane Fiona was starting to form. That one ended up picking on Canada instead.

I was thinking of how Fiona McFarland would deal with this situation, had it instead hit our area. I was looking forward to having fun with her on that one.

Of course, such a flippant attitude is easy when you’ve never had a hurricane strike in recorded history. Good luck aside, I hope we’ve all been set straight. Many of you know I used to be the editor of the newspaper on Fort Myers Beach. I lived across the street from the Gulf.

And, sadly, I know several people who died from the force of Ian. They all chose to stay put.

So, as we go through some paces of post-Ian minor inconveniences here, please think of those less fortunate. And many Siestans have. Walk the Village and see all the donation efforts. And, read about Gidget’s owner Barbara on page 10 and how her business friends stepped up.

Meanwhile, the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites offered discounted rates to residents of Sarasota, Lee, and Charlotte counties displaced by the hurricane. Mighty kind.

And with that, as Thanksgiving approaches, some more thanks to deserving folks.

I’ll start with Village Cafe employees for giving resident Peri Gruber, who ducked into their place with an armful of groceries during a heavy rain, a ride home.

Yes, we are all-knowing here at Siesta Sand. No good deed goes unpublished!

Then there’s the Siesta Key Association. Some consider some of the civic group’s members a bit too political, but I’d argue they often have to be — and for good reason. They are our de facto government, because someone has to be. Right?

What they really are, first and foremost, are wonderful watchdogs and stewards.

And they are omnipresent. When a toddler lost his parents on the beach recently, they were on it. A lost pooch found wandering the public lot around the same time? They were playing dog catcher.

For them, it’s not just about fighting the county. It’s literally about everything. Check out a meeting the first Thursday of the month at 4:30 p.m. at St. Boniface Church and you’ll see for yourself.

By the way, this month’s Community Spotlight features one of the group’s standout volunteers. Joyce’s story awaits on page 8.

Next is Mike Cosentino, a subject of this column a few months back that highlighted his unique election campaign.

He lost in the Democratic primary in August, but certainly didn’t toss in the towel on being a community leader. No, he instead doubled down. Resident Greg Anderson reports that Cosentino was the first one on the streets with a chainsaw to clear the way for power restoration.

Then, he caught a boat to hurricane-ravaged Pine Island with fuel, ice, generators, and other critical materials to help an elderly friend and others. He’s literally living in a tent on the lady’s roof.

I’m upset that I didn’t vote for Mike. And I’ve met others who feel the same. He deserved to advance.

But that damn closed primary nonsense in Florida — where you can only vote within the party you’re registered — prevented me. I wasn’t willing to change affiliation, even if for five minutes, plus I wanted to vote on the Republican side of things. I should be able to vote on both.

Sure enough, Mike lost by less than 500 votes. Even residents who have clashed with his large personality in the past have told me he was the guy who should have won.

And back to saying thanks, I’m appreciating the idea that Siesta may have its first Sarasota County commissioner, in the form of Mark Smith, since Nora Patterson reached term limits in 2012.

It was then, Cosentino says, “We fell off the political cliff.”

Prior to Patterson, Jack O’Neil was the last local to serve — back in the late 1990s during the first uproar regarding the idea of dredging Big Pass.

Next, thanks to the city of Sarasota and the town of Longboat Key, both of whom voted in October to ban beach smoking for Lido and Longboat.

As for Siesta beaches, the county postponed any discussion on the topic. Such a measure won’t likely come until January, the commissioners reported. And so much for my Christmas gift.

And speaking of grinches, finally a thanks-for-nothing to the jerk who keeps posting the Facebook factoid that says we are now closer to 2069 than 1969. I’m told it’s Bryan Adams who is doing it, hoping to drum-up interest in his cheesy “Summer of ‘69” song.

OK, I just made that up. But it’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to.

What’s truly incredible, of course, is how time flies — especially in my business when you are working on things more than a month in advance.

Yes, 2023 looms large on the horizon. Like an eight-story hotel above a sleepy little Village.

Thankfully, we’ll continue to survive all that comes our way. Stay tuned.

As for all the yard mess, stay pruned.

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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