Sanibel is a unique and wonderful place. There are many aspects and nuances of the Island that you may never read about in more traditional news sources. In order to rectify this lapse in reporting, I bring you the Sanibel Palm Telegraph.
One of the most enjoyable ways to end a workday is to swim in the gulf and then sit in the fading light of day. The birds flock to the beach to dine on minnows, visitors congregate to watch the setting sun gild the water, and people of all ages run to capture the essence of the Island.
I headed out to Bowman's Beach for another gorgeous sunset on Sanibel. Ending the day at the beach is one of the best perks of living here.
I am always amazed at how much time can elapse between my visits to the beach. So many people think that living here is tantamount to living at the beach, but that is not necessarily true. When you make your permanent home here, there are chores and errands and jobs that demand attention. Unless I make a concerted effort, I can go weeks without trekking to the beach. One year, I even made a New Year's resolution to visit the beach a minimum of five times a week. That plan lasted for about a week.
My beach trips have increased lately, and for that I am glad. The beach changes every day, and if I am not there to witness the changes, I feel like I have missed out on something of great significance.
Imagine my delight when I stepped out onto the beach in front of Mitchell's Sandcastles and found the elusive Sand Gator. Rarely seen on the Island, the Sand Gator occasionally appears on the beach near the high tide line. The careful observer will notice the Sand Gator's finely textured surface, its magnificent shell-like claws, and its dark, glistening eyes. Enjoy this artistically graceful creature, for it often disappears with the tide.
Yes, I have pet peeves. Doesn't everyone? Here are two of mine...
Dogs off leash at the beach.
Sanibel has a leash law that requires dogs to be on leash or constrained by a fence at all times when they are outside. There are reasons for this law, not the least of which is to keep dogs from harassing wildlife. Just don't do it. Keeping your dog on a leash is safer for the dog, safer for wildlife, and safer for everyone your dog doesn't know. To all of you who keep your dogs leashed, thank you!!
Trash on the beach.
Come on, people. How hard is it to pick up your trash and take it off the beach. In the past two weeks I have picked up cans, bottles, plastic bags, a cheap towel, a bag of dog poop, tangles of monofilament, and other assorted bits of flotsam. Please take your trash with you. And if you see trash left by others, please do not hesitate to pick it up as well.
Thank you to everyone who helps to keep Sanibel beautiful and safe for people and wildlife alike.
Kudos to the Sanibel City Council for standing firm on the "dock of the bay" issue. It warms the cockles of my heart to know that the Sanibel Plan is holding strong in the face of yet another attempt to overdevelop the Island.
Owners of bayside properties were well aware of development limitations when they purchased their properties. Crying foul years later demonstrates incredible arrogance and entitlement. If you want to pave and build and maximize return on real estate investment, perhaps you would be happier in another part of Florida.
I wish more people could see the value of an unspoiled island in a state where developers pave right up to the edge of protected lands.
I spent a lovely few hours at the beach yesterday with a friend. We decided to head to a more populated section of the beach in order to see and be seen. Some of the things we witnessed at the beach were nothing to write home about, but others prompted us to put fingers to keys and comment about the goings on.
My observations yesterday led me to this rant. I shall set the stage for you... Imagine that you are sitting at the beach on a beautiful day. The sun is hot, the sky is blue, and the water is clear and green. Your eyes gaze over the shell-strewn beach and land on... a bird. A laughing gull, to be specific. Laughing gulls are the ones that look like ordinary, but pint-sized, seagulls. Laughing gulls are quite a bit smaller than the burly herring gulls, and they have long, sturdy black beaks and beady little eyes. These birds are gifted at sniffing out purveyors of hand outs and treats. Unlike the crows, who take it upon themselves to investigate beach bags and help themselves to snacks, the laughing gulls generally wait patiently for someone to launch goodies in their direction. My admonishment to you is to Never Do That. Never, ever, feed the birds. I shall tell you why.
Wild birds need to find their own food. If we accustom them to being fed by humans, birds learn that begging is a very profitable enterprise. Fritos and Doritos are not ideal supplements to the human diet, let alone to the avian diet. Sanibel is an environmentally sensitive island, and we prefer our birds to remain self-sufficient and healthy. Feeding birds is not benefical for birds. Do Not Feed the Birds.
In addition to being detrimental to the well-being of birds, feeding birds is not good for beachgoers. Birds that are fed repeatedly will beg like no panhandlers you have ever seen. They tend to be clever and extremely persistent. Word about snacks hidden in bags is already out amongst the murders of crows. Sit at the beach long enough, and you will observe crows brazenly snatching treats from the hidden recesses of beach bags and carryalls. Rumor has it that they may also pilfer car keys and wallets.
Other birds, like the laughing gulls, have also latched on to the idea of begging. They stage themselves some distance from your location. Then, each time you look away, they take a few steps closer. If you look back at them, you will be almost positive that they moved but you will not be entirely sure. The birds look innocent enough. They tip their heads, bob their beaks, squawk at each other, and then they move closer as soon as you look away again. The birds are persistent and they are brazen. They will attempt to guilt you into tossing them a handful of peanuts or a few tortilla chips. Resist their pleas. One chip is too many, and a thousand are not enough. Before you know it, they will be sitting in your lap, pecking at your hands and demanding more, more, more.
The moral of the story? Never Feed the Birds. Shorebirds are not songbirds at the feeder. They are wild and wonderful inhabitants of the Island, and they will remain long after you have returned home. Allow them to be wild. Watch them, do not disturb them, do not feed them, and remember to enjoy the show.
Sanibel is, at its heart, a small town. Like any small town, stories worth telling tend to spread quickly. According to local Island lore, the underground news network on Sanibel is affectionately referred to as the Palm Telegraph. As with any unofficial news service, this communication network tends to be efficient and more or less accurate.
In the spirit of small town news, I present the Sanibel Palm Telegraph. Through my writing, I wish to share my perceptions of the Island and its stories. I want you to read about things you may not find in the local papers. I hope you laugh, gasp, wonder, comment and debate. My intention is to educate and entertain. Although I may occasionally make mischief, I will never be malicious. Enjoy these tales of life on and around the Island. Remember that there is more to Sanibel than meets the eye.