Flatness and Hotness

A pair of environmental consistencies remained constant throughout a recent trip to South Florida: flatness and hotness.

In the realm of the region’s civilized constructions, many cultural components of the Ft Lauderdale metro area seemed consistent, from my conditioned recognition of American consumer big-box chains (albeit built in pastel editions) to the general of pace I’d remembered of the place. Though, having resided in Northerly regions virtually my entire life, the presence of palm trees always comes as a novelty.

The calming palms weren’t the only trees that impressed me by their nature. The potted bonsai trees atop outdoor plinths at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden did not disappoint my expectation to stand in awe at such small-scaled specimens of organisms that are often over-towering when not maintained in miniature form. Perhaps the density enhances the inherent magnificence.

The path looping along the Morikami Museum’s lush grounds offered educational tidbits about Japanese garden models–for instance, the embracing of more nature-inspired aesthetics, as seen in the Modern Romantic Garden, as opposed to installments that fell more in accordance to traditional philosophies or rendered abstraction, like certain rock gardens.

Beyond learning what botanic species and aesthetic concepts could be successfully imported from Japanese garden culture to exist in the Floridian setting, the Morikami Museum offered the chance to see what types of reptiles and amphibians could thrive within a contained ecology as such.

Colossal koi and whiskery catfish slid throughout the water of the pond’s slimy shoal, while gliding turtles would occasionally prick their pointy snouts through the top line of murky aquatic limits.

On the land-side, four-legged, cold-blooded creatures scurried stones, soil, and brush before locating the perfect peak from which to perch.

The state’s flat surface was replete with water bodies, big and small, against horizons, a scene that was seen by standing along of circumference of the freshwater lake that the Morikami gardens looped around.

Chlorinated blue waters shimmered, surprisingly brilliantly, under the bright blue skies in a more manufactured form: a chain hotel’s onsite swimming pool back-dropped by a multistory car dealership.

What naturally came as less of a surprise was the way the Atlantic offered a saltier, splashier expanse of azure stretching far beyond the coastal limits of the locality’s (and country’s) continental bounds.

Back to Coney

I somehow found myself back in Coney Island and Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the second time in the 5 days I’ve been back.

Except yesterday it was different. It was about 95 degrees, and full of people. I was unable to step on the sand because I cut my foot pretty bad the day before, so I stayed on the boardwalk to examine the people of all sorts: young, old, families, couples, clothed, in swim trunks, in bikini tops, fair skinned, light skinned, too skinny or too fat, showing too much skin or looking too hot with all their clothing on. With such an interesting diversity I kept wondering what exclusive beaches must look like. I think this place is the only beach in the world where you can have such a blend of contrasting demographics.

Last time I had biked, but this time I was in a car, and finding a parking space was quite an adventure. There are the tiniest little driveways along the jam-packed streets and small urban houses behind their steel fences, with lots of the curbs painted yellow or with no parking signs, all somehow crammed within an area infested with Odessa’s former population and Russian-inspired developments. My boyfriend had made the observation last time that it was the only beach he knew of where one can purchase a fur coat in the summer.

I had the pleasure of eating at a Russian restaurant that was misted from the awning and tucked away in the shade, but had to experience others eating certain foods that smelled vile and looked very scary.

We then walked down the boardwalk from Brighton Beach to Coney Island, to the red steeple and past the Cyclone and famous Ferris wheel, with humans everywhere eating mangoes with hot sauce or Nathan’s hot dogs orĀ  fried shrimps, passing NYPD men in uniform goofing around by their scooters looking chubby as ever. The restrooms were full of families crammed together in front of the far and few between running water outlets, washing the sand of their ankles and feet, while the sandy water dripped out to the long line of women waiting for the indoor facilities.

Stopped off in a bar to cool off the madness from the heat and the crowds and relax by the bikers rocking their black leather. I could once again hide in the shade under an umbrella with my sunglasses.

Always an interesting time!