This is not about Ernest Hemingway, although he lived in Florida and would understand why this phrase applies to this post.
We left Fort Myers and headed for the Okeechobee Waterway, a 135-mile trip across the center of Florida, using rivers, a lake, and canals. We made it through five locks and turned northward in Stuart, Florida.
I was anxious about the locks, but I admit they were a piece of cake—when I wasn’t distracted.
Florida is buggy. Noseeums are little flying creatures that are all jaws. Little black flies sometimes bite. Mosquitos are mosquitos.
Conversation in the bug room: “OMG, she’s baaack! Remember grandpa talking about her 33 years ago? Remember Uncle Bug mentioning this tasty treat from California eight years ago? Gourmet meals coming right up. Pass it on.”
Thirty three years ago on the West Coast of Florida, when we attempted part of this trip in a sailboat that loved sandbars, I had seventy-eight bites. No wonder I was skinny then. The critters drained a few pounds of blood.
Similar scenario eight years ago, when we did the East Coast trip from Stuart, Florida to the Chesapeake. I was smarter then—I took lots of spray with me, but I still ended up with massive water blisters from mini jaws taking their share of the moveable feast.
This time we were super smart. Mark and his brother Keith made thick screens for all the doors. They were great at anchor off the Okeechobee Waterway in a swamp where in the morning we counted about a hundred bug carcasses littering the outside of the boat. But in marinas we tend to be careless, leaving doors open (screenless), even at sunrise and sunset, prime dining hours for bugs.
Yes, I have Deet, the only thing effective that I’ve found. But again, I have to remember to spray it on or wipe it on.
I’m sitting here splotched with calamine lotion, looking out an unscreened door in New Smyrna Beach—downtown. An urban bug has already used me as an appetizer, biting my stomach through my T-shirt. The spray is going on. Screens are next. Because the word is out. The feast is moving through Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Reservations now being taken. Second seating? No problem.
Not my favorite way to diet.