Dog Through the Window

Changes and Coinkydinks.

South Puffin is a city. A very small city. This is a “before” photo of sand and water, before a single road was was graded or a single house was built.

South Puffin BeforeOur small residential community is one of the smallest in the country and may be the only city that entirely encompasses a single island. The city has a total area of under 450 acres. About 320 acres (half a square mile) of that is land and the rest is water. We have just over 800 residents in 422 households, and 253 families here in the city. The population peaks to about 4,000 in mid-winter. That means we’re a lot smaller than North Puffin except when we almost catch up thanks to winter or summer visitors who maybe flow back and forth. Our parallel streets start with Abundance Street and Bacchus Street and run up the alphabet to Magnificence Street (which the locals call Mysterious Street) and the extra, Napoleon Avenue. I live on Kittywhopper Street.

Florida has some 4,510 islands that are ten acres or larger and some uncounted number that ebb and flow in smaller sizes. Only Alaska has more. Our major island chains include the Keys, the Ten Thousand Islands, the Sea Islands, and the barrier islands of the Intracoastal Waterway.

I like living on an island I can drive to but sometimes driving here is full of danger.

My friend Evangeline threw a dog in the window of my truck one day. She and “Gussie” were out for a walk when I stopped to chat. SWMBO and I ended up dogsitting for a week or so until Gussie’s owners returned from a cruise. Gussie is a pound pup who is used to change so she fit right in at my little house and fit right in later when her own people reclaimed her.

Change is the very nature of island life. My beach eroded this fall as we lost a foot of sand; that’s a foot of depth. Most of that sand settled as a beach-sized shoal out by the breakwater so it will eventually come back but for now it’s a long step down to the beach and the water is shallower than usual.

A new couple bought a house on Last Street. It’s not the actual last street on the island; that honor goes to Napoleon which is beyond Magnificence. Turns out they have a farm near Rolph’s Wharf in Chestertown, Maryland, a short hop down the river from Kibler’s Marina where we kept the boat. Chestertown is my favorite city on the Chesapeake. It’s as old and as interesting as Annapolis but without the congested harbor or crowded streets. Kibler’s is now the city-owned Chestertown Marina and a lot more upmarket than it was 50 years ago when we were there. Joe Strong’s WWII 6×6 chassis cab that he used to haul boats is long gone. As is Joe who died a couple of months after my dad did in 2005. Devils Reach, the final bend in the river before C-Town is still there. I don’t think I knew the people our new friends bought from. Those folks are gone now, too.


Another newcomer owns a business in Connecticut across the street from my neighbor’s childhood home. They shared stories at a beach party the other day.

Speaking of homes, a new beach buddy lived right on the corner across the creek from the railroad station my grandparents lived in. My dad grew up there, just a quarter mile from the house I grew up in. The school bus turned that corner every morning and every night when I went to elementary school.

Very few other people are here from Vermont but I did run into a retired city employee I know from St. Albans at the Winn-Dixie the other day.

New people built a grand new house at the end of Kittywhopper Street where their seawall stretches around two sides of the lawn from canal to Bay. I chat with them as they walk their Labradoodle most mornings. Nice people. Great dog. And I noticed this morning that the new owners of Luis’ house are digging up the driveway pavers to change them.

Lots of changes here in South Puffin. It amazes my grandkids that I have met all these new people without once friending them on Facebook or tweeting at them.

Gussie’s people have listed their house. They’re moving up to north Florida to be nearer to family and to a good vet. I guess we’ll have to stay in touch by email.

Gussie’s dad took her back to Evangeline of the pitching arm so the kids could play with her the other day. I carefully avoided driving that day.

We won’t tell SWMBO about that one.