Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Friday, October 31, 2008

Beyond the Adirondack Crescent

Last Tuesday, Russ and I did a presentation about our cheese project for Prime Time, a program at Santa Fe College here in Gainesville. About 25 people attended. We talked about how we decided to start researching "The New American Cheese", what we have done so far...our visits to museums, cheese conferences, cheese festivals, cheese farmsteaders. We were a bit surprised by how much we have already learned, and how some it was quite different from what we had expected. For example, we have yet to meet anyone who went into the cheese business because they loved cheese...but several have did because they loved the animals. And...who would guess that you could carve the skyline of Chicago out of cheese?

We ended the presentation with a sampling of six American artisan cheeses. That may have been the part that made us a hit and got us asked to do another presentation in the spring...that time about our Camino experience.

Back to Prague

I visited Prague again last week. There is a post and some photos on Peg's Prague Blog about my experiences.

To hear a recording of Czech folk music from the "Get Out the Vote" rally that we attended on Old Town Square, click here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Camino Presentation

On Monday October 13, the day after my mom would have turned 92 and two days after Aunt Pat turned 88, Russ and I did a presentation about our Camino experience. (Notice Carol, Vic, Karen, and Aunt Pat's party hats in the picture from the birthday celebration.) We talked to the Gainesville chapter of the National Association of Retired and Active Federal Employees.

It was great fun. People asked a ton of questions about what we brought, what we wore, where we stayed, what we ate…about our packs and our gear. Their feedback on our photos was wonderful and we totally enjoyed the experience.

In the photos, you will see that some of the Narfians, like Barb, even tried on our equipment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Clam Farming Presentation

Last Sunday, after the Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Experience, our Gainesville Slow Food Convivium came to Cedar Key for a presentation about clam farming by Leslie Sturmer from the Multi-County Aquaculture Extension Service. As we've mentioned in previous posts, the Slow Food group has visited several local farms, and clam farms fit the pattern in their own way.

When net fishing was banned off Florida's coasts, Cedar Key fishermen began clam farming. Cedar Key is now one of the premier producers of farm-raised clams in the country.

Of course, clam farms aren't quite like vegetable farms. The farmers start with a lunch-bag size sack of thousands of seed clams. They hold them in a nursery table through which they pump a continuous flow of Gulf water until the baby clams are big enough not to slip through the net bag in which they are then staked to the bottom of the Gulf in the underwater farms that the farmers lease from the State.

In a year and a half or so, the very heavy bags are harvested full of grown clams!

Pretty nifty farm visit, which was followed by an spectacular clam feast and Pot Luck dinner at our Cedar Key house. We had about 35 people in our little house, and, as you might imagine with a bunch of folks who believe food should be slow, good, clean, and fair...wonderful pot luck treats.

Cedar Key's Annual Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Experience

Last weekend was the annual Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Experience in Cedar Key. On Friday, we participated in the afternoon Native Plant Walk on Atsena Otie, which is the island just off the coast of Cedar Key where the town used to be until the Great Storm of 1899 washed it away and killed almost all the residents. Before the storm, there was a large factory on Atsena Otie where the Eberhard Faber company made slats from the native cedar trees. The pencils were hauled the short distance back to Cedar Key by barge, loaded on trains, and shipped around the country.

After the Great Storm, the factory was never rebuilt, people resettled on the bigger island of Cedar Key, and the major industry was the making of brooms from palms. Actually, Cedar Key was a thriving community until the railroad diverted to Tampa in the late 1920s. Until then, it was a major port for trade with Cuba and Latin America.

In fact, in the 1930s, my Quinn grandparents came here from Rochester and took a ship to Cuba to celebrate their 25th Anniversary. Nine months later, my uncle Mike was the story goes.

Anyway, back to last weekend. The highlight of the hike on Atsena Otie, as usual, was the mosquitoes! We took a boat over and were immediately swarmed when we got ashore. Along the beach, it was only irksome. But inland, it was amazing. Having been there several times before, I wore long pants and long sleeves, and had a hood as well as a hat. I suffered less than the others. The legs of one woman in the group, who was wearing shorts, were covered with little black mosquitoes. Most of our group of about 12 went back by the beach, but those of us who continued had a great walk with Colette Jacono, our guide. Her enthusiasm for the plants practically overcame the annoyance of the mosquitoes ...practically

Friday evening there was a clam feast and a presentation about bird migration. Really nice. Saturday, another Native Plant hike, with few mosquitoes, an equally enthusiastic group of learners, and equally dynamic presentation by Colette. In the evening, Jake's veterinarian, Dawn Miller, brought a dozen or so birds of prey from her sanctuary to show to the 30 or so attendees. And we had another delightful dinner. Very nice, even though there were so many events that we had to skip the bird walks and boating trips, and the kayaking, in favor of plants and feeding the mosquitoes. The photos show Dawn with a hawk and two of the attendees, Peggy and Jennifer, with a small Great-Horned Owl.