Moving southward

Things Tropical

By: roger | December 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

From drawings in geography texts to the dieffinbachia which died on the porch in the winter, things tropical have fascinated me. And it was the nearby reefs and shallow warm waters of South Florida which inched me further south each time I moved.

In South Georgia there are several imaginary lines which delineate the limits of things like comfort, available produce, and vacation opportunities. And as we now know these lines are not static and with the shifting climate, the fire ants from South America are now searching for new territory in Appalachia. There use to be a fire ant line, and as southern lowlanders know, being on the southern side of the gnat line can ruin a picnic or an entire vacation.

Growing up near the limits of sub-tropical America, it was thrilling to me, to one day have to swerve to miss the coconuts which had accumulated on the highway in Key Biscayne. And then when I finally moved there, the thrill accelerated as I filled my enormous salt water aquarium with specimens collected on the nearby fringe reefs.

The salt water aquarium hobby diminished in importance, as the orchid and parrot collections increased.


It was in September of 1988, a few days after the passing of Hurricane Gilbert, which came ashore with one of the lowest barometric pressures every measured, passing near our ranch along the shores of Q. Roo, Mexico. A few weeks after the passing of the storm I had spent the night in a tent within view and sound of the off shore reefs, arriving the night before in order to access the wind and wave damage to the ranch structures.

The next morning, after pulling out onto the white coral rock road, a little animal fluttered in my path, and it turned out to be a baby Amazon parrot with a few wing feathers but with his breast bare and being attacked by ants. It had obviously survived the hurricane only to fall from a nest hole in a coconut tree. The name, Coco, stuck.

This little loro came to live with us in Merida as a member of the family, and until last night lived in the kitchen where he enjoyed constant company and favorite foods. The strawberry, red-colored soda water was a favorite.

Coco died last night at the age of twenty-five years. And today we are in mourning for the little friend who shared our kitchen and breakfast encounters.

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