Sunday, May 23, 2010

christmas tree island

Early on in my new life in paradise, we were having cocktails at the Pier House beach bar and I asked my friend Dave about the two islands just a few hundred yards off Mallory Square. He called the one with the elegant homes on it "Sunset Key" and the other, undeveloped spit of land, "Christmas Tree Island".

I learned later that both were man made islands of sediment deposited at each site while the Navy was dredging Key West Harbor (c.1900). Originally, Sunset Key was called Tank Island but at that point Christmas Tree Island had no name at all. Long about 1925, a Public Health Service steamer called Wisteria sank where it was moored just off the island. The wreck was eventually salvaged and hauled off but the name "Wisteria", stuck with the island as sort of a tragic reminder.
Still, for many of us, it'll always be Christmas Tree Island.

I've been out there a time or two and think it's kind of nice. Peaceful and quiet, a great, seemingly exclusive view of sunset and easy enough to imagine as a nature preserve.

All the same, every so often some consortium of developers and/or local politicians get the hot and hornies to build homes out there. What I've noticed during the times when that happens is, those people stop saying "Christmas Tree" and only call it "Wisteria" Island.
I imagine that's intentional, as it sounds easier to sell the over development "Wisteria Island" than it would be, looking like some kind of Scrooge wanting to bring that kind of chaos to "Christmas Tree Island".

I don't pretend to know the ins-and-outs of who wants to do what and when, or the wheeling-and-dealing that goes on, directed at getting it done; but I do have to ask why.

It seems like almost every other house in Key West has a "For Sale" sign on it, people are walking away from their mortgages and/or being foreclosed on and even the last big development project, "Harbor House" down at the bight, is dead in the water.
Our ecology is already horribly strained, realtors aren't selling very much of anything and homes that are already built are vacant. Why would anyone think there was any further benefit in building anything else?

I'll admit, the concept of "greed" has always been a tough one for me to get my mind around but "common sense" I've got a pretty good handle on.
It just seem far more sensible from any number of perspectives (except maybe the developer's) to work within the already existing infrastructure.

JesusGod!! When is enough, enough?

1 comment:

Anasakta said...

Hi Arthur,

I could not see an email address so I am contacting you this way.

I found your site today and over the next few days I will enjoy exploring it.

I found you by Googling "key west meditation". I did this in an attempt to find people who may be interested that I will be in Key West from June 19th to June 25th.

I am giving a talk you might be enjoy on Sunday, June 20th at the UUFKW. The "letter" about the event is posted at and my flyer is at

I think you may be interested in the approach to meditation that I teach.

I am not looking to make anyone my student or disciple, rather I seek to empower each person to make the journey alone. It is after all a very personal journey. What I hope to do is remove confusion so that the person can avoid the 30 frustrating years that I spent.

Arthur, I hope you will decide to either come to the talk or meet with me during my time in Key West.

The ticket price for the Sunday meeting is merely a help to defray my travel expenses and the rental cost of the UUFKW space.

Should you or anyone else wish to meet with me personally then there is no charge whatsoever.