Friday, March 20, 2009

A Tourist at Home

Today was day one of my "mini vacation." I have wanted some time off - just some time off! to enjoy this beautiful island on which I live, enjoy the best possible weather on the planet! and spend time with my ever-so-faithful puppy. My job requires my attendance at every town council meeting, as well as the preparation and distribution of agendas and backup materials. With three-plus meetings a month, I rarely have the opportunity to take time off. Two weeks ago, I put in for this time, and I now have a five-day weekend! Woohoo!!
So today is day one. I slept in, and boy did it feel good. I woke to several work e-mails coming through on my blackberry. It seems the boss "forgot" I was on vacation and sent me tasks.... I politely replied that I am on vacation and could someone else please address these issues. I set my "out of office" on outlook, but wonder if it is working, because I continued to get e-mails all day long with requests for things. Sheeshe.
One of the things I planned to do today was to visit the Farmers' Market. Every Friday morning in season, the Town holds a farmers' market up under the bridge. We've been doing this for several years, yet I have never been to it. Many Friday mornings, I'll get to work and it'll hit me: "Dang. I meant to go to the Farmers' market....." There is one vendor that sells fresh seafood, and I have seen co-workers putting bags of shrimp, grouper, crab claws - all purchased at the farmers' market - in the fridge in the office break room. I received some shrimp and grouper from this vendor as a gift last year at Christmas. Visiting this vendor was definitely on my list today, and so I put a thermal bag with an ice pack in my back pack. Gracie and I took a nice walk down to the square and down under the bridge.
I got there about 10:00 this morning, and they were already sold out of grouper. Dang. But they did have snapper and pompano, and beautiful pink gulf shrimp. I bought two pounds of jumbos. Pink gulf shrimp is so sweet - it is as sweet, if not sweeter - than lobster tail. There really is nothing like it. I walked along and looked at all the great fresh produce. I saw some really large onions, and asked the guy if they were Vidallias. He responded, "Sweet. They're the same, only these are Florida Sweets.... Grown in Florida." I sensed that my question insulted him. (sorry). If you've ever had Vidallias, you know how sweet they are! I bought a nice large onion for two dollars.
Leaving the Market, I ran into John R. - a local businessman and somewhat of a friend after years of being an acquaintance. We shot the breeze about the local economy, tourism and of course our mutual love of this island. Gracie and I strolled into the square. I saw Herb doing his shaved ice - business seemed good. I walked past Burritto A Go Go and Nicole hollered out, "Gracie's here!" Nicole has an 8 year old female blue weim, so we often exchange stories. I tied Gracie up next door and went into Anita's shop, Local Color. It was nice being a tourist in my own home town.
Strolling back along the boulevard, I had greetings and waves from friends and coworkers driving along the road... well, actually trying to drive along the road, as traffic is always a crawl this time of year. Getting back home, I put my shrimp in the fridge, watered my plants and fed Gracie. I showered and changed and drove in to Town to get an oil change on my (new) car. 3300 miles is all I've put on it in the eight months I've owned it. I've even had a round trip to St. Augustine and several trips over to the east coast. After the Honda dealership, I stopped in at Home Depot and bought a shop-vac. How glamorous.
By now I am pretty stinkin' hungry. I cleaned half a dozen jumbo pink gulf shrimp and sauteed them in garlic and butter with a nice chunk of sweet florida onion. YUMMMMY! A chilled martini with a garlic-stuffed olive topped off the meal just nicely.
Gracie is snoozing in the overstuffed leather chair that she has claimed as hers. It is time to grab the folding chair and stroll on down to the beach to catch the sun set.
It sure is nice being a tourist on Fort Myers Beach.

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