by Gene Benedict
December18, 2017

Dust is a major topic of conversation in Cedar Key these days.  Last week we talked about smoke from fires in Mexico and Texas clouding the sun.  A similar thing happened in Georgia and Alabama in the 70’s with smoke from over 50 uncontrolled fires turning the skies red day and night and causing severe eye and nose irritation.

As a boy I remember dust storms in Kansas and Oklahoma that made visibility nearly impossible and pitting chrome and window glass on cars.  A similar event occurred in Texas in the 70’s that dropped red dust all over the South and it rained red water for days.  I was in Portland, Oregon the day Mount Saint Helen’s blew its top putting more material airborne in one second than all the concrete that’s ever been poured.  The dust drifted as snow does and piled several inches thick forcing the governor to order property owners to remove it from the streets in front of their property.

Now we have a real threat here in Cedar key.  Why should an Island surrounded by water on all sides be such a dust bowl?  This time, it’s a man-made problem.  The EPA calls such problems “fugitive dust emissions” and regulates the major sources.  The cause of ours is the construction underway to improve our stormwater run off systems.  The dust and dirt covers the roads and becomes airborne every time a car drives by.

Our homes are filled with dust.  We personally lost the drive on our VCR due to that.  What about disk drives on computers?  What about our own personal health?  The swales go ungrassed.  The roads are dirty and may stay that way for a long while to come.  Do we need to improve a run-off problem and create another problem/?

No!  Where is your social consciousness city fathers, contractors and sub-contractors?  Clean the dust as you go.  Grass the swales. Finish the job.

Now let’s talk about something a bit lighter.  As May draws to a close we notice a number of changes taking place around Cedar Key.  It is quite warm now and a little humid.  The birds we see are those that spend the summer here.  Gone are the skimmers, those graceful flyers that gather in large flocks skimming the surface of the water with their lower beaks in search of food.  I think they winter here and spend their summers along the Carolina coasts.  Gone also are the loons, mergansers, scaups and other small diving ducks, presumably to their summer homes in the far north.

Back are the laughing gulls with their loud voices.  Back also are the oyster catchers and the black bellied plovers, the shoreline wanderers with their distinctive markings and bright colors.  The man-of-war birds also known as the magnificent frigate birds are now sailing high overhead on wide wings touting their long, black, V-shaped tail feathers.  And just this week, one lone member of a colony of nine or so roseate spoonbills, pink in color and shy in nature, that winter on Sanibel and points south, made an appearance on Back Bayou just behind Annie’s Café.

For now, that’s it, so until next time, you can bet I’m out there looking for Trouble in Cedar Key.

Copyright © by Gene Benedict 19 December 2017