The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

summer in Key West

Summer in Key West | Hurricanes, rain, sargassum, construction and mangoes

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


Whew. Was that a wicked news week or what? Figured we could use a break, so let’s talk summer in Key West.

I stuffed in a pair of earplugs this morning before heading to the office. Because it’s summer in Key West.

The office is the corner of my front porch. From here I’m part of the to-and-fro-ing of folks on their ways to work, often going counter to the one-way street signs. I can chat up neighbors and the postman. Watch the rare Atala butterflies. Share a cup of coffee with friends. Spot the ripening mangoes on our tree next to the pool, a pool the tree will eventually destroy. And listen to the doves coo.

It’s summer in Key West. The Tourist Development Council could do a series of ads from my front porch. Lovely, laid back, breezy with sunshine and soaring summer clouds. The stuff of which the Key West Mystique is woven.

Except not the doves part. They’re outdone by the jackhammers, the sanders and the roofers. (Hence the cotton balls today.) And not the sun and breezes. The weeks of unrelenting rain and humidity don’t play well with my laptop and tend to dilute the coffee. It’s so hot the green trash bins stink; God bless the trash guys. Let’s not forget the mosquitoes; they love summer in Key West. And, let me be truthful, I love one or two mangoes a day, but at two pounds apiece and hundreds more to come, even a mango lover dreams of a bag of chips.

summer in key west
Construction on the Lofts at Bahama Village is well under way. June 25, 2024

Summer in Key West | The best time of year

Welcome to summer in Key West. It really is the best time of year to live here despite the noise, heat, smells and eternal dampness. Heck, we have our choice of parking spaces and don’t have to stand in line. A grocery run doesn’t result in banging my cart into a gaggle of vacation home renters blocking the aisle and arguing over which couple won’t eat what.

Before my neighbors think I’m whining about the construction noise, I am delighted. After all, we started this block party on Dec. 26, 2012. That’s the day our contractor and crew took the first jackhammer to what would be an almost nine-month renovation of the nondescript 1953 concrete block house with a falling-down porch.

Since then the block has seen two new houses built, six renovated and two more under way. When those are finished, every house on the block will have been updated. If I were a couple decades younger, I’d say it’s time for Ranger Ed and me to start over. That ain’t happening. The real estate agent will have to call this house “a bit time-worn and ready for its next life.”

Construction is a Key West summer fact of life. With it come earplugs and an assortment of swear words as roads are rebuilt, new water and sewer pipes are laid and houses are renovated. Over at Truman Waterfront Park, the Lofts at Bahama Village are rapidly becoming reality, and cops are giving tickets to folks running my neighborhood stop signs as they race around blocks trying to avert closed streets. I like that ticket part. A lot.

Amazingly, perhaps, Key West doesn’t stink. Usually by late June we’re sniffing hydrogen sulfide, the rotten-egg smell that comes with mountains of decaying sargassum piled on every beach. Oh, the record-breaking sargassum bloom is out there just waiting for the right winds to drive it onto our beaches. But for now the breezes aren’t making me think we’ve dumped our sewage — although one still might want to check the water quality reports before wading in. Nearshore water at the beaches isn’t getting good reviews at the moment.

We’re one month into what is predicted to be the worst hurricane season ever and this week’s Hurricane Beryl, which roared across the Caribbean as a devastating Category 5, does not make me rest easy. If Beryl were asked what day it is, it likely would say Sept. 10, the historic peak of hurricane season. Because that’s when we get the worst storms. November’s season end is a long way off.

Summer in Key West

And there you have it. Now off to forage for toilet paper and paper towels for the hurricane boxes. Let’s keep our shutters at the ready, right?


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