Protective paranoia, a Grayton Beach, and a quest for the stars
Pompano Jim is also unique in that his IQ is over all standard boundaries, and he holds a full doctorate and is a retired college professor in bio-chemistry. I watched him one day give a lecture to my grandsons on the humble sand flea, and I was mesmerized at the simplicity in his explanation of how the shore flea is in harmony with the sea birds and fish.
While he has been living in Grayton Beach for what seems like forever, Pompano Jim has taken on the issue of Edison’s electric lamp.
“Each year there seems to be more and more people installing security lights, and that’s not counting the street lights,” he said. “Now the stars are becoming dim. Even the turtle nest count is down.”
He blames the light pollution on out-of-town owners and their constant dread of crime. And so he is charging forward to fight the lights.
“CHELCO has come out and seen the violations and there will be some changes or fines coming forward. Already we have seven violations and still counting just last week. The turtle protection enforcement statutes on lighting have been ignored. So I plan to return our original beach community to where we could see the constellations and not make the hamlet a city parking lot.”
“Our locals don’t go spilling into other communities with invasive attitudes, so why should people from other cities and states do this to us?“ he asked.
“I and a few others have managed to point some lights so they don’t face the beach and disrupt turtle migrations and their ageless nesting propagation,” he continues. “We plan to become more vigilant and simply ask home owners to enjoy the night sky and don’t bring their city fear to Grayton. The sea and sky is what we have — no mountains, no streams, no rocky shores, just the stars at night and rhythm of the waves. I recently asked some newcomers to please cut out their property lighting. They said for me to go away; it was their house and they will do as they please. The lady of the house was scared and so up come the lights. It’s disheartening.”
I went out walking with Jim as he pointed to various intruding hard lights. He was right. Some people seem to care more about monetary property and protective paranoia than what they originally came to Grayton for — peace and nature. They brought the big city phobia with them.
“It’s all about trying to educate the visitor and hopefully making them understand the life cycle of Grayton Beach. It is up to the homeowners association to rid the village of this invasion. Some vacation owners will always be selfish, that is their “nature,” but us locals promote God’s given nature. The stars and moon at night are enough light for us.”
Jim is my hero. To catch Pompano, call Jim’s fishing guide service at 850-231-1145.
Fair winds to ye matey.
Chick Huettel is a longtime Walton County resident, writer and artist.