Friday, January 27, 2012

The Mouth of the Mice

The future also throws its shadow, itself a worthy subject—but not today’s. What I mean to indicate, however, is that we’re planning a trip down to the Florida Keys, and in preparation for that I’ve been looking at maps. In that process I noticed that the Keys, if extended northward, actually begin well above the Bay of Biscayne in a detached chain of islands of which Miami Beach is a part. A satellite view of that (clicking on image will enlarge it, Esc returns):

This sort of meditation brings memories, in this case of earlier trips to Florida. Then up floated a name: Boca Raton. That place is way higher than Miami, and looking at it one sees no bays of any sort. This got me curious. I learned that the original name had been Boca Ratones—and that raton is a mouse, not a rat, in Spanish; the word for rat is rata, pl. ratas. Next I learned that the original location of that name was actually associated with the much more southerly Bay of Biscayne. Well. That bay is a pretty good-sized boca, meaning mouth. So. The Mouth of the Mice.

The marvels of modern life. With Google’s satellite mapping images, I started to look for the teeth of those mice. My assumption was that that gracefully curving thin line of islands that form the Florida Keys and then run in parallel with Florida’s land mass might at one time have been more prominent at the outer edge of that bay. The next two pictures show the map itself and then a closeup of a portion immediately south of Key Biscayne. Here they are:


Quite visible in the center of the second picture, faintly brown, are rock formations lying close to the surface of the ocean—and the black channels mark the places where water had once carved paths for itself as it flowed into the sea. Was that rock lying higher in the old, old days when Boca Ratones had been named? I expect so. Or were sea-levels lower? To answer that question I’d have to undergo serious study—rather than meditating idly on an  upcoming trip into places quite wondrously different than the eastern edge Michigan where once the Penobscot people roamed.

1 comment:

  1. Departure is now T minus 27 days and counting!

    I'm pretty sure I can wait out four more weeks of winter, especially if it continues to be as mild as the last four weeks have been.


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