picture of a camper under a palm tree

That palm tree really doesn’t provide much shade.

I’m watching the rain right now, although not really over the ocean, because the view out the side window is of the campground. I could angle myself better to see more water, but not without disrupting a dog’s nap. And it doesn’t matter anyway, because the rain is coating the windows and turning the view into a static-y television screen.

(I wonder when the image of static-y television will become completely meaningless? Like talking about a party line or sending a telegram? Probably not yet, but eventually.)

Serenity is feeling really crowded, because after six days in this campground, I’d pretty much filled my outside space. I had my chair, my table, my grill, my beach mat, and miscellaneous smaller items all scattered over the site, until it became clear that this was going to be serious rain. Now everything is jammed haphazardly inside while I watch the storm.

So even after six days, I’m still not sure how I feel about this campground. The biggest negative is the lack of good walks. The campground is set on a busy road and there’s no sidewalk. I’ve walked in both directions, roamed around some roads that feel like they should be private despite not being marked as such, gone all the way into the town and explored the railroad trail, but it’s felt like a struggle every day to find places to wander. The roads in the campground itself are dusty sand, the gritty kind that sticks to everything, and bumpy rocks, not at all fun to walk on.

The second biggest negative is the no see ‘ums. Relatively speaking, I don’t think they’re that bad. I’ve certainly been in places with much worse mosquitoes — I remember a park in Vero Beach, where the mosquitoes swarmed even the dogs. But when the no see ‘ums are biting — which is not always — staying outside is not fun. They seem completely undeterred by my environmentally friendly bug repellent.

And I guess the third biggest negative has been the heat. My spot is in direct sun and the weather’s been hitting the high 80s every day. I’ve had to run the air conditioner almost constantly. Sadly, I originally had reservations to be in Key West these weeks, but I cancelled them months ago because I decided it would be too hot. It is just as hot here. Alas. I rue the cancellation fees. And as I wrote to a friend today, heat + camping = sweat + dirt = yuck. It’s certainly no fault of the campground, but I really hate feeling dirty all the time.

All that said, wow, the sunsets are lovely. Sunrises, not so much. I haven’t found a place with a good view of the sunrise, except for a bridge on the way into the town. The campground is cute as can be — colorful signs, lots of plants in pots, pretty picnic tables — and the town is adorable. It is what I imagined Key West would be — small and arty, tropical but still feeling like Florida, not the Caribbean. I bet if I was here in March, I’d adore it. Even the lack of good walks would probably not bother me so much. In fact, if it weren’t so hot and dusty, I’d probably think walking into town was a great walk, despite the lack of sidewalks.

And sitting still feels wonderful. I originally thought that yesterday or today I should drive to a store to do some grocery shopping, but I have been completely reluctant to make the effort. I’m not being lazy — I’ve been writing and walking and cooking — but I’m really appreciating the peacefulness of not needing to pack up and go places.

It’s been good, but not yet great, for my writing. I’ve made definite progress, including some words that are very entertaining (to me, at least) but my characters seem to want to chat rather than reach exciting climactic moments. But I’ve got another week here, so I hope to get there.

Today I walked into town without Z and went to the little market. It’s 1.4 miles away, so I couldn’t buy more than I thought I could comfortably carry that far. In 80 degree weather. But I bought yogurt and salad greens and bananas and a few other things, enough to avoid shopping for a couple more days, I hope. On the way back, I stopped at the seafood market. The right thing to buy there was clearly fresh clams and if I was feeding anyone else — ideally three or four people, I absolutely would have. But they were selling the clams in bags of 100 and the thought of eating 100 clams by myself… well, I’m really not sure I’m capable of that. It seemed ambitious, anyway. So I bought some frozen bay scallops instead.

For dinner, I started with brown rice, while I marinated some of the scallops in lemon juice and garlic. I was thinking of doing something lemon-zesty with them but I got distracted by the red pepper flakes I bought recently. Once the rice was done, I melted some butter in a frying pan, added red pepper flakes to it until they were sizzling, added green onion until it was sizzling, then tossed the scallops in. I think I would have done better with a hotter pan at that point or less lemon juice on the scallops or longer defrosting of the scallops, but eventually they looked done. I then tossed in some arugula. I gave that thirty seconds at most, then put the whole thing over the rice. I added cilantro (which I should have added with the arugula) and then a sprinkle of romano/parmesan cheese.

I inhaled it. And if there’d been more, I would have eaten every bit of the more. The combination of the ocean taste of the scallops and the kick of the red pepper and the bitterness of the arugula… so good. Even the textures blended well. When I make it again (which I will have to, because I have about 3/4 of the scallops left), I’m going to skip the lemon and garlic, because I think I was working on two different ideas at once. But maybe I will marinate the scallops in a little gluten-free soy sauce.

The dogs are also eating really well. I don’t remember if I wrote about this, but when I took Zelda to the vet last week, she had some tests, and has an appointment for more tests, but the vet did sort of shrug and say, “Well, maybe feed her what she’s willing to eat.” And what Zelda is willing to eat is people food. And, post my birthday, I have an immersion blender as well as an insta-pot. So dinner for the dogs tonight was sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and chicken, cooked in the pressure cooker and then blended to a dog-friendly consistency. (I define that as one where Zelda can’t pick out the meat and ignore the vegetables.) I’m going to have to figure out what supplements they need and maybe, now that I can make the veggie cubes, I will try the raw diet for them. But it’s been really satisfying to watch Zelda lick out her bowl instead of turning away from it and leaving it to B. B, of course, is delighted. He’d be perfectly happy with kibble, but chicken and veggies works for him. The other day, he actually growled steadily as he ate, which you would think might indicate something bad, but which I think was him saying, “Mine, mine, mine, mine…”

So yes, cooking good food, writing good words, and watching the rain. And now I’m getting back to those other words…