Exquisite leisure

Curiously I find awakening on Key Largo each morning to an agenda of unsurpassed leisure to be moderately unraveling.  The predictable insouciance of each day is nonpareil. And after my customary sustaining breakfast of fresh fruit and sprouted bread I routinely punctuate the equanimity with a purifying 4Km tricycle ride about the neighbourhood of Buttonwood Bay. For that athletic endurance I reward myself by prolonging upon a chaise longue at one of the three pools.  Instantly that I am so situated I inevitably succumb to the radiant heat of the blazing sun amid the azure dome encircled by the silvery palm trees and swaying green fronds. This in turn subsequently motivates me to seek the blissful cool of the pool waters where my torpidity exalts. Thereafter I am completely absorbed in the subtropical atmosphere of balmy sea air.

Today’s poolside languor was distinguished by a young child bobbing in the pool, porting inflatables on his arms.  Episodically he exclaimed in a thoroughly convincing voice his astronomic delight, signified by a high pitched glittering giggle.  It is evident that the young boy sees or feels something the rest of us have missed. Like most people who are different by this remarkable extent – as his groans, whines and unpredictable shouts signal – his private joy is disregarded by the others in hearing distance (which surpasses the fence surrounding the pool). It is nonetheless inconvenient to subdue his joyous proclamations. Predominantly he is kept in check by the nearby adult crowd. His passionate yells are perhaps a visceral expression of our common and inexpressible rapture.

Nothing succeeds to defeat the incalculable Nirvana of the Key Largo currency. The North Atlantic Ocean breeze and the rolling white clouds come and go in a moment, reinvigorating the sky to a Heaven of unfettered deep blue. The heat is penetrating. Complementing this ecstasy is the communion with others. Although it is not assured that every particle of the day is enlightened by fellowship, it is however foreseeable on Buttonwood Bay that the moment will express itself within the hour.

Over the past six months (particularly following the shift to Daylight Savings) I have learned that the latter part of the afternoon – say from 2:30 pm or three o’clock onwards – is an ideal time for many to visit the pool for sunshine and swimming. And of course for social gathering. Today I was pleased to enjoy a confab with Don and Carol Stafford, father and stepmother of Jeffrey E. Stafford with whom I had chatted yesterday prior to his departure with his wife and children this morning to Michigan. I mention the Stafford family because by chance it was Carol who was the first person I met last November upon our arrival on Key Largo.  She and Don have a home here on Buttonwood Bay, although they interrupt their winter by travelling back to Michigan over the Christmas period to join family there. Carol was for me a memorable introduction to Buttonwood Bay because of her ebullience and her proprietary knowledge of the venue. The Stafford name is not unfamiliar to me. Many years ago in 1976 when I began my country law practice the Stafford name was among my first introductions to the community.

Stafford is an English surname originating from Staffordshire which may derive from Anglo-Saxon meaning ‘landing stage by the ford’. The Staffords may also refer to the people of Staffordshire. Hailing from Staffordshire in England, this name is of English and Norman origins and has been around for centuries.

Specifically my introduction to the Stafford name was through my predecessor Raymond Algernon Jamieson, QC.  Historically W. H. Stafford was by far the most sophisticated of the lawyers who lived in our country village of Almonte.  He lived in a grand home on Elgin Street.  His clients were reputed to include many of the large landowners of mining interests in the nearby townships of Lanark County. Reportedly Mr. Stafford routinely travelled by train to Toronto to meet with his mining clients.  He is said to have stayed at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto. Following is a section taken from a prior record of Mr. Jamieson’s account.

Every so often I have the pleasure of visiting with Mr. Raymond Jamieson at his house or in my office. He usually tells me stories about events in his legal career in Almonte. One story particularly caught my interest two days ago. It’s an account of a case in which Mr. Jamieson was involved. He represented the Defendant. The opposing lawyer was another former Almonte lawyer, Mr. W. H. Stafford, who is now deceased. Mr. Jamieson began his story by saying that Stafford was an excellent lawyer, very learned. The Plaintiff held a promissory note executed by the Defendant, representing the sum paid (or rather, to be paid) for a cow which the Defendant had purchased from the Plaintiff. The Defendant had apparently paid part of the price after he had taken delivery of the cow, but later refused to pay the balance; and, hence, the action. As Mr. Jamieson stated to me, on the face of it, the Defendant was doomed. He had signed a Note for a sum certain, and he had not paid it.

Stafford called Jamieson during the course of the action and told Jamieson that he noted that Jamieson had put in a Statement of Defence, and went on to say, “I’ll give you lots of law at the trial”. At the trial, Jamieson produced evidence that the cow had been sold to the Defendant with the assurance that it was in calf (which turned out not to be true, and it was for this reason that Jamieson’s client refused to pay the balance of the Note, having satisfied himself that what he had in fact paid was sufficient for the cow itself). This “assurance” itself would probably not have been enough to have won the day for Jamieson and his client; however, Jamieson further produced an advertisement from a newspaper which stated that a cow in calf was for sale. Jamieson won.

After the trial (sometime after, perhaps a couple of days), Jamieson saw Stafford on the street and asked him what he thought of the Divisional Court’s decision. Stafford stated that it was a poor decision.

But the crunch of the story came when Mr. Jamieson told me that Stafford subsequently bought the mortgage (which was then in default) on the Defendant’s house and foreclosed it!