By Forest Riggs
Shiver me timbers! Spring, though it has tried, has not sprung. A clump of sand sitting in the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston has recently experienced a few cold and damp days, coupled with chilling winds that cut to the bone. Seems we have several days of glorious sunshine, then BAM! Here comes another cold spell. Most of the island flora has been tricked into early budding and sprouting. Many of the migratory songbirds have already returned and doing their best to make whoopee in the cold. Even the wretched grackles have started their huffing, puffing and strutting, trying to catch the eye of a mate. I’ve noticed similar behavior in a few humans along the Seawall and beach. What is it with spring that makes the old xylem and phloem start flowing, even in the cold!
As young children we were taught: “March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” I am ready for the lamb part. Being an anal-retentive Virgo, I have never fully understood or appreciated all the fuss that comes with those noisy Leos. Seems they always have to make an entrance.
Mardi Gras passed, and with tremendous hangovers we slid quietly (some of us with ashes on our forehead) into 40 days of Lent. Things get a little quieter as many islanders begin to prepare for spring (if and when it gets here.) Lent, confusing for many, is simply a season of reflection and renewing: Take a look at yourself, think about things you might want to change and work on. It’s kind of like a Spring Cleaning of the soul and psyche. Some feel they have to “give-up” something they love or simply can’t live without. Sometimes, this is a good thing. I had a wise teacher who once said we should “give-up” things like anger, hatred, bigotry and so forth. I’ll give it some thought.
In the next few weeks, the island will become Temporary Paradise Found, as many students will abandon their dorms, apartments and other places, to come and celebrate Spring Break. This annual period of craziness can last anywhere from a couple to several weeks, depending on the schools and their schedules. This is the time the do-gooders get away to do bad and the bad come to do the do-gooders! The traffic is nuts, the wait for service in restaurants is frustrating and the Galveston Police Department has its hand full. Like the grackle birds, young muscular, tank-topped boys in jacked-up trucks drive down from deep east Texas to perform their version of strutting, huffing and puffing. Generally, it’s a good time for all, as long as folks act remotely sane and exercise a little common sense. It’s no longer “Girls Gone Wild,” it becomes “Island Gone Wild.” The bars fill with new faces of all sorts, from seasoned repeat offenders to underage newbies trying to cop a drink and maybe find “love” or some other form of debauchery.
Lots of fun things are coming in the next few months as spring and summer finally get here. There will be home and garden shows, sand castle contests, expert drag shows and some mighty hot male dancers. I will keep you posted on who, what, when and where for gay Galveston activities.
Lastly, after a few days in a row of sunshine, I decided to take my chances on wade fishing in the bay. Just because the sun was out and my bald head burned, it did not mean the water had warmed. After selecting some prime cut bait (I like the uncut, too!), I waded out to ’nad level and was quickly reminded it’s still too early without waders! Yikes. I gave it a good try and after about 30 minutes of losing bait, hobbled to the shore. It has been a week now and I still can’t find my parts. Hopefully, the waters will warm soon and I will try again.
Having said this, the fish are biting — black drum, speckled trout, delicious flounder and even a few red fish — most caught on live bait such as shrimp. Get brave and give it a try. Get a license though; the fine is tough. Whether you catch fish or not, it’s a great way to explore the island and meet some fun locals.
Until next time, keep smiling, laughing and making the world a better place.
A resident of Galveston where he can be found wasting bait and searching for the meaning of life, Forest Riggs recently completed a collection of short stories about his beloved island and is working on a novel.