But buoyed by old friends--and a new love--the answers may unfold, guiding both Marin and Fiona to a true refuge at last. A sweet story, set in a friendly community. Unraveling the Pieces.
Stitches in Time. Patterns Of Change. Farewell to Cedar Key. Postcards from Cedar Key. Sunrise on Cedar Key. Your first reaction may be to laugh, but your second is to clean your damn plate.
Also on the menu—here, and at every other restaurant in Cedar Key—are clams, hardly a Gulf Coast staple. I get the skinny on that the next morning, when I head out to fish for more Gulf catch—speckled trout and redfish—with a third-generation charter guide and Cedar Key native named Tracy Collins. This represents a typical pattern in Cedar Key's life story: boom, bust, boom.
As the town's two museums one on Second Street, the other out a ways at a state park make clear, Cedar Key may emit a sleepy vibe, but its history has been anything but easy. In the late s, Cedar Key was in a boom phase, milling and shipping large amounts of cedar slats, but by the turn of the century the cedars were gone, and thanks to a hurricane that wiped out the mills, much of the populace disappeared, as well.
Collins is adding splashes of color to this history as he pilots his foot flats boat through the byzantine waterways. We slip past shell mounds and oystermen, who balance upright in boats as they pince the seafloor with foot tongs. When I was a kid we used to go there all the time, because the island was full of mango trees and plum trees.
Pioneers came out here and they tried everything.
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A freeze finally killed them, but they lasted years. Back at the hotel, on that wide veranda, I'm reveling in the quietude and reading some John D.
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MacDonald—the famed writer of the Travis McGee mysteries, forever linked to Cedar Key thanks to a Jimmy Buffett lyric—when the two activities converge, as if by some enchanted spell. MacDonald is explaining how Old Florida's silences aren't silent at all: "Wind in the pines, wind in the saw grass, wind across the water," he writes. Life all around you, flourishing in the sub-tropics, greedy, restless, proliferating.
In , German pencil-maker J.
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Eberhard Faber went looking for splinter-free wood. He found just the thing—Eastern red cedar—in the Cedar Keys, and by he'd built a mill on Atsena Otie Key and a pencil factory in Manhattan. The Eagle Pencil Company followed in , putting more local cedar into Americans' hands. Two decades later, a hurricane wiped out the E. Faber's Pencil Mill; a huge cedar now grows above the ruins. You can also score local Pelican Reef oysters on the half shell here.
Tony's is a little dinette that serves award-winning clam chowder. For anglers, Saltwater Outlaw Charters Capt. Tracy Collins leads fishing trips on local flats and backwaters, and offshore.
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Cedar Key curb appeal; a colorful cottage. Fishing guide Tracy Collins; small-boat regatta. Sunset in the Keys.