Early start

As we approach the end of March, 2023, it appears that the residents of Buttonwood Bay are taking their leave. When I arrived by my tricycle at the pool this morning around 10:45 am there was only one couple (a man and a woman) seated upon chaises longues, each of them reading a book (a real book, not a Kindle). More astonishing was that they were in the shade beneath the tall Buttonwood bushes, facing the westerly side of the pool not directly into the morning sun. They clearly have a unique regard for the sun and Vitamin D.

If my memory serves me, I spoke with the woman sometime within the past week as I was about to enter the pool for a swim. She was seated in the identical spot in the shade with her gentleman companion. She professed an admiration for the depth of my tan, a distinction I recall having off-handedly dismissed as the corollary of languid indolence. She nonetheless betrayed a modest cosmetic interest in a buffed hide such as mine.  I am accustomed to this approbation though increasingly it comes with the parenthetic scrutiny of impending skin cancer.

Not long after my arrival at the pool, DD and his wife clanged through the entry gate. They preceded their settlement by the pool with the ritual alignment of deck chairs facing directly into the radiant sun.  After this followed the application of generous amounts of suntan lotion. Then seated, they were positioned like mahogany sculptures of birds of prey upon a homestead wire, eyes closed, dutifully intent only upon absorbing the maximum exposure to sunshine prior to their imminent departure (what I am informed is the conclusion of their 1-month stay here). I have trouble keeping track of these casual interlopers though I do recall upon DD’s arrival in early March having overheard his distinctive voice and having remarked upon his erstwhile ivory-coloured skin immediately devoted to the burnishing rays.

The quiet morning ensued. I subsequently heard DD and his wife Kathy aimlessly flapping about in the pool like large fish in a pond. Apart from the flapping in the water the only other sound was that of the local birds who repeatedly chirped or squawked. A strong wind momentarily overtook the sheltered area surrounding the pool. It was welcome relief but it wasn’t long before I succumbed to the mounting heat of the noonday sun and joined the others in the pool. With moderate effort I hobbled attached to my stick to the steps into the pool. Once in the water I soon approached DD to initiate our customary confab.

Though DD reports his morning practice of scriptural reading, I have always detected an element of his character which contradicts the substantive Christian ethos. It wasn’t however until today that I was able to put my finger upon it. In a convoluted discussion of British colonialism, imperialism and its differences from North and South in the United States of America, oligarchy and democracy, we touched upon more immediate polity; namely, Trumpism. Though DD seemed to insulate himself from Trump on the one hand, he nonetheless adopted his bias on the basis that Trump promoted many other positive features.  When I asked what in particular, DD replied Woke.  I in turn asked for his explanation of Woke, which he muffled by describing it as matters related to cultural issues.  When I asked for a specific example, he spoke of “those people who identify with being a woman who want to use women’s bathrooms but they are just standing to pee” (or something along those lines).  I instantly objected to that assertion for two reasons; one, the rarity of the radical left or the radical right must surely be of small consequence given the broader commonality of all sides along the centre pathway; and, two, I recall as a child on occasion having used the same bathroom as my mother and my sister and I really don’t remember it being an enormous violation.

I cleansed myself during the remainder of the afternoon by plunging into the sea. The swim was divine!

“Had such an observer studied the character of the Highlanders, he would doubtless have found in it closely intermingled the good and the bad qualities of an uncivilised nation. He would have found that the people had no love for their country or for their king; that they had no attachment to any commonwealth larger than the clan, or to any magistrate superior to the chief. He would have found that life was governed by a code of morality and honour widely different from that which is established in peaceful and prosperous societies. He would have learned that a stab in the back, or a shot from behind a fragment of rock, were approved modes of taking satisfaction for insults. He would have heard men relate boastfully how they or their fathers had wreaked on hereditary enemies in a neighbouring valley such vengeance as would have made old soldiers of the Thirty Years’ War shudder. He would have found that robbery was held to be a calling, not merely innocent, but honourable. He would have seen, wherever he turned, that dislike of steady industry, and that disposition to throw on the weaker sex the heaviest part of manual labour, which are characteristic of savages. He would have been struck by the spectacle of athletic men basking in the sun, angling for salmon, or taking aim at grouse, while their aged mothers, their pregnant wives, their tender daughters, were reaping the scanty harvest of oats. Nor did the women repine at their hard lot. In their view it was quite fit that a man, especially if he assumed the aristocratic title of Duinhe Wassel and adorned his bonnet with the eagle’s feather, should take his ease, except when he was fighting, hunting, or marauding. To mention the name of such a man in connection with commerce or with any mechanical art was an insult. Agriculture was indeed less despised. Yet a highborn warrior was much more becomingly employed in plundering the land of others than in tilling his own. The religion of the greater part of the Highlands was a rude mixture of Popery and Paganism. The symbol of redemption was associated with heathen sacrifices and incantations. Baptized men poured libations of ale to one Daemon, and set out drink offerings of milk for another. Seers wrapped themselves up in bulls’ hides, and awaited, in that vesture, the inspiration which was to reveal the future.”

Excerpt From
The History of England, from the Accession of James II — Volume 3
Thomas Babington Macaulay