The Martian Beachcomber
Best. Vacation. Ever. I finally get to take two weeks off from work and it is storming like Southwest Florida has never seen. That’s ok. It’s not like I am planning to spend any time at the beach on Manasota Key. Oh, wait. That is exactly what I am doing. But it does give me time to read The Martian by Andy Weir. For those of you who haven’t read the book yet, our intrepid astronaut, Mark Watney, finds himself stranded on Mars. It’s a great book and I feel like I am right there with him—marooned in a hostile environment that is trying to kill me. Ok, maybe Mark has to deal with a little more than thunderstorms, but from where I am sitting (inside!) I am awash in self-pity instead of sunlight. He recounts his adventures in a first person narrative, chronicling what happens each Sol (which is slightly longer than an Earth Day.) Since there is no Sun where I am stranded, I will call my day a Pluie, pronounced “plew-ee”. That word (not necessarily pronounced the same way) is actually French for rain and I like the way it sums up my mood.
The sun actually came out for 15 minutes at a time, a few times today. I almost missed it. I got a quick stroll in before the weather chased me back inside. The good news is at this rate I think I am fairly safe from ever getting skin cancer. Rickets and schizophrenia are more of a possibility due to a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight. I did see a black racer at the edge of my property taking advantage of the brief sunbeam. We were both thrilled to briefly bask in the golden glow and it was good to have that tiny fix of seeing a bit of wildlife.
Today was the inverse of yesterday. It actually only rained a couple times throughout the day. Not that the sun ever came out, but I was able to walk the beach for a few hours. The rough seas have washed away many of the sea turtle nests that were built too close to the surf. So sad to see unhatched eggs and dead baby turtles on the beach. Thankfully many of the record number of nests this year have already hatched and the ones built closer to the dunes should be fine.
The massive waves have washed away up to three feet of sand in some areas of the beach. The normal gentle slope from the water to the beach has turned into quite the incline. I noticed it while walking yesterday and while I’m no kinesiologist (is that really a word?), I thought that it was probably going to be a good way to working different muscles in my legs than walking on a flat surface. I couldn’t tell you which muscles were involved (much to the chagrin of Dr. Anderson, my Anatomy & Physiology professor from vet school, I’m sure) but that is the first thing I noticed this morning. Well, the second thing. The first thing was actually that the fact that I couldn’t stand up when I tried to get out of bed. Whatever their names, those muscles they were screaming. So maybe I will have to rethink this rain business. The continued rain will keep me from hurting myself with further exercise. I was planning to have Nicole from SUP Englewood teach me the finer aspects of stand up paddle boarding, but the rain and wind keeps delaying that.
I have established partial communication with Mission Control—er, ah Peace River Wildlife Center. They are having a slew of issues with the stormy weather as well. The power has been out in the hospital a couple times for the entire day. Electricians have been consulted. The winds and rains have caused many babies and injured animals to be admitted. There have been some interesting cases that I will report on if I ever make it back to civilization.
My so-called vacation is half over. I have not yet done any of the things I had intended to do. I was going to use the time off from work to eat healthy, begin an exercise regime, and turn over a new leaf. Who am I kidding? Since I’m stuck in this hostile environment and may never see another human being again (pasty white Europeans in speedos dodging raindrops on the beach do not count) I may as well be honest. I have been reading books, binge watching the latest season of Orange is the New Black and discovering the joys of rum. I finished The Martian and am into Riptide Ultra-glide by my favourite author, Tim Dorsey. I have read a couple reviews of the novel online and can only hope my buddy Serge A. Storms gets his hands on some of those people who attempted to discredit the book. That will have to be the subject of next week’s article. If I survive this soggy stranding.
by–Robin Jenkins, DVM
Meanwhile, the babies keep pouring into PRWC: