Key West is traditionally known as The Conch Republic, and sunset means a round of conch horns, celebrating sundown (and maybe the signal to resume partying?).
We were first introduced to the tradition of blowing the conch horn at sunset while in Boot Key Harbor last year (though this experience invoked the memory of my own father blowing a conch horn at sunset at our Traverse Bay cottage in my younger years, something he might have picked up when they used to vacation on St. Croix). The conch horns at sunset provided us lots of entertainment last year as we heard all variations of expertise. Some horns were much better than others!
This season we decided that it was time for Thyme Hyssop & Wry to join in this sunset tradition. We found stores in Key West that sold the conch shells with the “horn” cut, ready-made into a horn. Ron tried it out as soon as we got back to the boat and made the “honking” sound with seemingly little difficulty. We were ready for our next sunset.
Late the following afternoon we checked the official sunset time. Halfway through our happy hour, we brought our conch horn up to the cockpit, ready to blow at the appointed time. We watched the sun as it began to set, then very quickly fall to the horizon (the sun goes down fast, once it begins to go!). Ron was ready. The sun was setting. Ron began blowing. Lots of air but no “horn”. “Make your lips tighter.” “Blow from your gut.” “Find the sweet spot.” Ron gave the horn to me, I blew, I can “play” the horn with little problem. Nope, there’s nothing wrong with the horn!
My husband can do anything. Seriously. Except for swimming, he’s really good at just about anything he attempts to do. He’s getting better at blowing the conch horn. He’s making “the sound” every once in a while. In time, he’ll be able to make that long, low bellow to celebrate sundown.
In the meantime, I rather enjoy showing him up. And once the sun is down and the straggling conch horns dwindle, we have a saxophone player on a boat nearby who serenades us with some really amazing music. Ah, sundown…