Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Audubon House (Key West Excursion)

After our stop at Hemingway's home, we had a DELICIOUS lunch at an outside diner.

I had a DELICIOUS crab cake... so yummy!... followed by Key Lime pie. Key West is known for their Key Lime pie, and I was not disappointed!

We saw several roosters (& a few hens) and heard even more. Evidentally, the roosters were brought to Key West, an island that is only 2 by 4 miles, many years ago by early pioneers and Cuban Cock fighters. There is an ongoing debate with some residents wanting the roosters removed while others enjoy them.

Then we walked over to the Audubon House. John James Audubon had visited Key West in 1832 and, while visiting, sighted 18 new birds for his "Birds of America" book. This house is where he stayed during his visit.

Surrounding the house are gorgeous tropical plants. We spent some time slowly walking around. I would have loved to have sat and read here! Absolutely charming!

The house was full of beautiful antiques!

Audubon created his bird prints life-sized...

but afterwards produced a "more accessible edition at approximately 1/8 the size of the originals. These were single color lithographs, which were hand colored after printing."
(Quote from a sign under one of the prints.) So, you have an original size on the right and a 1/8th size, or "octavo", on the left.

My photo of nesting cormorants (& snowy egrets) May 2007
I loved reading some of Audubon's quotes!!! In fact, I'd love to read a book by him. Here's one of my favorites from one of the signs: "...On the 26th of April 1832, I and my party visited several small Keys, not many miles distant from the harbour in which are vessel lay. Mr. Thurston had given us his beautiful barge, and accompanied us with his famous pilot, fisherman and hunter, Mr. Egan. The Keys were separated by narrow and toturous channels, from the surface of the clear waters of which were reflected the dark mangroves, on the branches of which large colonies of Cormorants had already built their nests, and were sitting on their eggs. There were many thousands of these birds, and each tree bore a greater or less number of their nests, some five or six, others perhaps as many as ten..."

And, one more quote... On the 7th of May, 1832, while sailing from India Key, one of the numerous islets that skirt the south-eastern coast of the Peninsula of Florida, I for the first time saw a flock of Flamingoes. It was on the afternoon of one of those sultry days which, in that portion of the country, exhibit towards evening the most glorious effulgence that can be conceived. The sun, now far advanced towards the horizon, still shone with full splendour, the ocean around glittered in its quite beauty, and the light fleecy clouds that here and there spotted the heavens, seemed like flakes of snow margined with gold. Our bark was propelled almost if by magic, for scarcely a ripple raised by her bows as we moved in silence. Far away to seaward we spied a flock of Flamingoes advancing in "Indian line," with well spread wings, outstretched necks, and long legs directed backwards. Ah! reader, could you but know the emotions that then agitated my breast! I thought I had now reached the height of all my expectations, for my voyage to the Floridas was undertaken in a great measure for the purpose of studying these lovely birds in their own beautiful islands...."

And, the islands were beautiful, indeed! And, Audubon's language is, too! I'd love to find out more about his education...

1 comment:

lahbluebonnet said...

This sounds like fun! I agree, wouldn't be fun to read his book in that garden surrounded by the very things of which he wrote? I love old books! Also nothing like becoming interested in a book when discovering and visiting it's theme spot.

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