Upon leaving the mainland south of Miami, and after one surmounts the inexpressible joy of sunshine and heat on Key Largo, the next focus of one’s attention is upon the sea, the wavering palm trees and gnarled grey hardwoods implanted on the rocky white coral. This first impression of Key Largo is a lasting one. Its singular beauty abounds. It is a provocation affecting the eye of the whimsical observer as well as the amateur and professional painter and photographer. No doubt too it stimulates the musician to share his or her peculiar expression. Unsurprisingly a glorious milieu such as Key Largo enhances the creative marrow of almost anyone.
it demands note that Key Largo is an unparalleled idyll. Apart from its Bohemian texture (expressed more by relaxed than psychotic detail) the geographic theme of coral commands the hardened white base which in turn distinguishes the shallow turquoise sea surrounding the coral reefs. I know firsthand that the sea from Fort Meyers to Key West can be turbulent but it generally hasn’t the roughness of the North Atlantic Ocean on the opposite side of the string of islands called the Florida Keys. The sea invites a tranquil acquaintance not an abrupt encounter like the Ocean.
It is difficult to avoid colour on Key Largo. The themes are turquoise, green and blue, both up and down, dawn to dusk. The rising and setting sun is precipitous, its burnished colours transient. The atmosphere is soon restored to azure blue in the morning or midnight black in the evening. But this narrowness of the palette doesn’t diminish the precision and delight of what subsists; nor its attraction.
Commensurate with this exuberance of colour (including the orchids and bougainvillaea) is the very soothing sea air, often balmy, sometimes arid, always softening. The nutrition of the air is irrefragable, enhanced as it is by a vast basin of salt sea water from the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The Florida Keys are but a trace in the mass of water which unrestrained wisps about its cosmic evaporation.
BY JOHN MASEFIELD
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.