Godiva is worried about the first Mrs Rochester, who she is sure is living out her crazy old age in our attic. We are staying in Poorhouse Lane, a small row of conch houses built for tobacco factory workers in Key West many years ago. Many houses have a captain’s look out, or a widow’s walk and almost all now have skylights to cool the houses and let in light.
Our upstairs is presumably used by the home owner (family name not Rochester) to keep all his own stuff, but Godiva is sure there is someone up there, and won’t be convinced it is a cat prowling our rooftop. The houses here all have steep tin roofs, with gutters to catch the rain. When this land was first settled by white people, fresh water was in short supply. And yes, since you ask, Tennessee Williams who wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, did live in Key West but not when he wrote this play. Instead, the first draft of A Streetcar Named Desire was completed here.
We ate last night in the Hot Tin Roof restaurant which has a magnificent view of the sunset. Red snapper, mashed potato and asparagus. Yum.
Bigger abodes here have wraparound porches to keep the sun from streaming through the house, and some have gingerbread trims that work like eyebrows, keeping sunlight from upper storey windows. The trims are ornately carved—one actually in the shape of gingerbread men –but more commonly in chains of fans, ships wheels and similar.
Poorhouse Lane is close to the cemetery and, as the whole island is only a few feet above sea level, I think Godiva should worry about Pirate specters arising from their waterlogged graves. I put it to her that we had more chance of bumping into Captain Jack Sparrow than the first Mrs Rochester.. From her response I deduced that Johnny Depp is welcome any time.
Speaking of scary sights, we had a shock today as we enjoyed a lunchtime beer at Schooner’s Wharf. A woman of a certain age was perched on a rum barrel to enjoy what was certainly not her first cocktail of the day. She was wearing a black cotton mini dress and a pair of once-flesh-colored Spanx. We could tell what had happened: The more she drank, the more she gesticulated. The more she gesticulated the closer to her waist went her dress. Unmoved and intractable, the Spanx stayed put, clinging grimly to her thighs. It’s their signature move. This particular pair were no strangers to the boil wash, being beige gray in color, and, like their owner, distinctly worse for wear. We shuddered at what Gretel would term “a hot buttery mess”, checked our own appearances (immaculate as always) and went home for a nice cup of tea and a lie down before things got out of hand.