As it should be…

I slept late this morning. More precisely, it was late this morning until I slept. This, notwithstanding that I went to bed at an uncommonly Puritan hour last evening. Forever I have been one who responds only to overwhelming fatigue before I submit to insouciant slumber. After a restless night and repeated unsuccessful efforts earlier this morning to withdraw from under the duvet, I succumbed at eight o’clock (I heard the grandfather clock clang the hour) to a final try at shut-eye. It wasn’t until approaching 11:30 am that I had finished my lavage and breakfast meal of sliced green apple and a filet of black cod (a nourishment which I have subsequently enlarged with steel cut oats and chards of mango).

But precedent to the reward of the oats and mango I launched my bicycle from its garage cage onto the meandering roadways adjoining or connecting to the Mississippi River and Paterson Street which discriminate the upper and lower reaches of our contiguous neighbourhood.  I wasn’t 50 yards out of the garage and onto the roadway when a small black car drew up in front of me and parked along the sidewalk. The driver was the woman we call the “dog walker” because that’s what she does for profit and amusement I assume.  She is still living at 11 Evelyn Street in the former home of Dr. Karen Stillman (and previously an odd couple, former clients, whose names I cannot now recall).  Apparently the alliance of the dog walker and the cat hater (her ex-boy friend) didn’t work out; but she unequivocally says she is happy on her own. We exchanged current news. She politely overlooked the disparity between her 2,500 sq. ft. of living space and our much reduced new apartment (which naturally I allayed in my own manner by the marvel of its upriver view to the Village of Appleton).

She informed me that now, instead of walking the dogs about the neighbourhood, she simply picks them up then drives them to her house where they play in the backyard or finished basement. The dogs can move as quickly or as slowly as they prefer and everybody gets to play together. The project sounded infinitely simple but clever. I attributed the skilfulness and acuity to the much maligned progression of age.

Just to back up for a moment – to this point in my career on this blissful Monday morning in the middle of May – I got up (a singular achievement impressed upon me by Johnnie Francis Fitchett), showered and shaved, put on fresh clothing, ate a proper breakfast (though I was yearning a large spoonful of that oily peanut butter MaraNatha) and ejected my bike from the cave below onto the glittering public avenues. The unanticipated conference with the dog lady was fortuitous and fulfilling. I like gabbing with others, sharing Irish lies and gossip. Except on the rare occasions when I try to plan an outing with a friend, these social collusions are infrequent; and the planning does little to augment the calendar. In fact earlier today I called my friend Jill to invite her to go for a car ride but there was no answer. I am learning it is more reliable to contend with these casual meetings with neighbours and acquaintances along the way (as I did only yesterday with Gerry Coleman while I bicycled and he puttered in his front garden). With the repetition of our winter sojourns over the past decade since my retirement in 2014 we have it seems succeeded to evaporate all but the closest associations, many of which are now most often driven by blood or partnership. The erstwhile moorings of friendship and acquaintance have loosened their hold as we pertinaciously continue to remove ourselves from the immediate circumference and thereby unwittingly dilute the fibre of former connections.

Constrained as I was by my solitary drive to Stittsville today to have the car washed, it was a surprisingly rewarding venture. His Lordship remained in situ and chose instead to treat himself to what he afterwards reported was a replenishing half-hour afternoon nap. I profited by my uninhibited circumstance to open wide the windows and landau roof of the Aviator. Today I wore a baseball cap (which moments earlier had shielded my eyes from the glare of the sunshine upon my desk where I had been writing). Hats are not something I regularly wear.  Today however I struggled to keep the cap fitting tightly even with the car windows open. The cap added a dimension to the drive, a wisp of privacy. I imagined too that it legitimized the airy atmosphere of the drive. No doubt it took years off my life!

More compelling about the drive was the balmy southern wind. And I can’t ignore the magic of the mechanical performance and alignment of the car. I have shamefully developed an uncommon personification of this particular automobile. I for one can say without fear of inauthenticity that this vehicle comes very close to reaching the height of perfection. It is a private applause I have maintained for this car almost since the moment I got it. I am reluctant to overstretch the boundaries of comparison and approbation; but my regular exposure to new automobiles has aroused in me an acute palate. The off-shoot of this acclaim has been an atypical attachment to the vehicle. I see it as serendipitous that the evolution of passenger vehicles from fuel to electricity has now set the boundaries for the future. I am allowing the Ford Motor Company a measure of exoneration that they have as yet been unable to address the modernity with complete keenness. Meanwhile as I putatively suffer the consequence of rushed production, lack of components and whatever else may have lately obstructed their new models, I am blithely and complacently enjoying my 2022 Lincoln Aviator Reserve.