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Trouble in Cedar Key: They get in your blood

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By Gene Benedict

You know these Cedar Keys, they get in your blood. I sit, as I write, at the Sandspit where G and 1st streets join. There are a couple signs here, the yellow kind with arrows to point the way. Every time a storm comes through, the arrows point out into the Gulf rather than where the road goes. Woe be it for the driver not familiar with the roads or the Spit. The Sandspit. That's where I am. That's where I write.

It's a sunny, hot, breezy, day. The wind has shifted around. The Coast Guard and the weather people would say the wind has shifted from offshore to onshore. To me, that means that the morning is gone and the afternoon is here. On an island, an offshore wind blows onshore somewhere, and an onshore wind blows offshore somewhere. The sun also tells me its afternoon. The sun is lower in the sky than a while ago and it's still daylight.

The moon determines whether the tide is high or low by its phase and its position in the sky. Now, it is high tide. It'll be low a couple hours after dark. The tide cycle changes often. Wind can hold the water back on the land or it can blow the water out. At times we have tide changes so subtle as to be undetectable in terms of water flow.

Right now, the sky is remarkably blue. The air is clear. You can see Cedar Key, Atsena Otie, Snake Key, Horseshoe Key, Dead Man's Key and Piney Point. Another key is visible at the water line, Grassy Key. At high tide it seems to disappear, showing again as the tide drops. After a storm, Grassy Key disappears altogether, its grass blown away. Eventually the grass grows, and again you can see Grassy Key.

From the Sandspit you can see the sunset all times of the year. As summer approaches, the sunset crawls north along the opposite shore past the Airport Bridge. And then as winter approaches, the sun retreats to the south. Most of the time, you can see the sunrise from here. And the sun is almost directly overhead in the summer. Or angling to its low point in the southern sky in winter. On June 21 or there about, the sun is about six degrees south of the zenith. That happens at "sun noon." In our time zone "sun noon" is about 1:40 pm.

The characteristic white fluffy clouds along the horizon are ringing the Cedar Keys. You can see them from Tampa all the way up the Nature Coast circling around Old Town and Cross City and across the upper land bordering the Suwannee. They form over the mainland, storms with thunderheads rising tens of thousands of feet. Sometimes they stretch and extend nearly to the Cedar Keys. Most often though, the skies overhead remain sunny and bright. The storms generally dump their rain on the mainland , dissipating as they approach the Keys.

As the day wanes and the sun goes down, the sky glows in glorious color. The color is more spectacular after the sun has set. And the wind dies back. And the red and green beacons guide sailors through the zigzagging channels.

And as the stars and moon appear, I experience the end of one more day on these magnificent Cedar Keys. They do get into your blood, you know.

E-mail: tnckgebe@yahoo.com