b'Matters heart of thematterThingsthat Matter Since 1990 After the StormFeaturing Local People, Places and The sun still risesBY ELLEN DONKERPUBLISHER Iinabeach-facingto relax. Hurricane Ian, a category 4 storm had ravaged the & EDITOR IN CHIEF was about 16 years old when I first visited Sanibel Ellen Donker and Captiva in Florida. Nestled in a strand of bar- island on September 28 with 150 mph sustained winds and ASSOCIATEEDITOR rier islands off the Gulf coast of Fort Myers, they10 to 15 feet of storm surge and this was the first time back Rosemary Mattson still strike me as idyllic so many years later.for my mother and me (my father having passed away in My father had discovered South Seas Island Re- 2016). The storm had wiped out parts of the causewaySOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER sort, a 330-acre area located ata three-mile bridge from Fort Myers Rachael Entine the tip of Captiva, in the lateto the islandand decimated homes ADVERTISING CONSULTANTS 1970sandboughtand businesses, roads and vegetation. Rene Conlon condominiumthecomplexthatWith no way to get to Sanibel except H. Leslie Gilman was being built. Although the prop- by boat, we wouldnt know until Oc-Amy Power erty had a history dating back to thetober 10, when a property manager late 1800s when George Washingtoncould inspect the house, that it had COPY EDITORS Carverhomesteadedtheland,thisbeen spared. On October 21, a tem-Nick Humez was the beginning of its developmentporary causeway was opened to the Tia Swanson as a resort.public and by December the power CONTRIBUTORS My parents rented out the condowas restored to the house. Sara Courtney exceptwhentheywantedtovisit,Seeingtheislandfourmonths Adrianna Donat and I often tagged along. Ive alwaysafter the hurricane was sobering. Al-Donny Levit been a beach lover but I was particu- though much of the external clean-Olivia Mack McCool lar smitten by the Gulf of Mexico,up around properties had been done, Tia Swanson where I could lay on my back to beall manner of debris was still caught Julia Maloof Verderosa lulled by the gentle lapping of thein the swampy vegetation along the waves or spot a family of dolphins at play from my patchside of the main roadrefrigerators, throw pillows, dress-in the sand. I was tickled by the sight of coquinas burrow- ers, mattresses, ice chests, basically anything youd find in a ing their way into the sand or sand pipers skittering tohome. In my mothers neighborhood stood a giant garbage avoid the water.dump with double-long semis coming and going all day But the shells! Never before had I seen so many perfectlong. Most of the businesses were closed (some may never shells washed up on the shore. reopen) save for a handful of restaurants, one grocery store Ispenthourstraversingthebeach,identifyingandand a gas station. One of our favorite breakfast places, the Please address all correspondence to:Visual Impact Advertising, Inc. gathering olive shells, whelks, tulip shells, conches, lionsOver Easy Caf, apologized online to anyone who might P.O. Box 198 paws and more to take home. There was always one morefind the restaurants walk-in freezer or ice machine in their Maplewood, NJ 07040 shell mound to sift through, one more perfect specimen toback yard. 973-763-4900 find. Captiva was heaven to me. The bike paths that wind around the island were open mattersmagazine.comEventually, my father decided he wanted a house onbut gone were the scores of families usually found pedaling. firstname.lastname@example.org Sanibel as he and my mother were spending more time inThe beaches were still closed but I was able to bike over to Matters Magazine is owned and publishedFlorida and less time in New Jersey. I was sorry that ourone of them because more than anything I wanted to walk by Visual Impact Advertising, Inc., P.O.home no longer faced the beach and I missed the quaint- on the sand and feel the waves wash over my feet. When I Box 198, Maplewood, NJ 07040. Mattersness of Captiva, the smaller of the islands, but all I had todid, I found a beautifully intact conch. And then I spied Magazine is free, with editions direct maileddo was hop on my bike to be seaside in less than a mile. another one until my pockets were bulging and I had to ask 7 times a year to the residents of Maplewood and South Orange and distributed to busi- When my husband and I were dating I got to introduceone of the other shell seekers if they had a spare bag for me nesses and surrounding communities total- him to the wonder of Sanibel and he was just as enchantedto store my treasures. ing 16,000. Subscriptions are available to non-residents for $30 (U.S.), $40 (Foreign)by it as I was. Our triplets followed a few years later withMy happy place may look different, but what matters annually. No part of the publication may betheir first plane ride at 11 months old and rarely missedmost to me remains: the years of memories Ive made on reprinted or otherwise reproduced withouttheir annual visits thereafter. Sanibel and the chance to make new ones. And thats the writtenpermissionfromVisualImpact Advertising, Inc. Sanibel has always been an oasis for our familya placenature of life, I suppose: theres no stopping change or the to keep no schedule, to smell the sea air, to observe wild- force of nature. But there is beauty in new life and the CIRCULATION VERIFIED BYU.S. POSTAL RECEIPTS. life at a nearby nature preserve, and to pedal our way to achance to learn how to accept it, maybe even with joy. The READ & RECYCLE favorite restaurant for breakfast.sun continues to rise, waves still tumble on the shore and I At the end of January, I returned to Sanibel, but it wasntwill always stoop down to look for the gems at my feet. 8/ matters magazine / hearth + home 2023'