There was no question when I arose from the lair this morning and after I had completed my ablutions and finished my breakfast that today was a day to be dedicated to the sun and the sea. We’ve lately had a period of cool weather but the temperature was forecast to rise to a reasonable 73°F. There was as well nothing but wall-to-wall sunshine predicted. I got onto my bicycle and triggered my Apple Watch to record the so-called “workout”. Then it was out Sloop Lane to Gulf of Mexico Drive and an immediate left turn southward to Lido Key – into the sun!
The journey across the bridge from Longboat Key to Lido Key was unique today in that I took the bicycle lane adjoining Gulf of Mexico Drive (or what I believe becomes John Ringling Parkway upon leaving Longboat Key) rather than using the barricaded pedestrian walkway. Traditionally I avoid the bicycle lane because it is so narrow and vehicles regularly drive fast. Last year a cyclist was killed alongside the road. But today was Sunday and the traffic was noticeably less voluminous – and less frantic.
There was a wind from the northeast so my progress along Lido Shores was not entirely a sail. As soon as I crossed the bridge onto N Washington Street at St. Armands Key towards the beach I was sheltered. The burnishing rays of sunshine were palpable. The parking spaces along Benjamin Franklin Drive skirting the sea were jammed. As was the central beach parking lot. Though I had originally contemplated perching in this area I decided instead to go to the south end of Lido Key where I usually go. It proved as always to be a good decision. Though there were more people on the beach than there had been in recent days, it was demonstrably tranquil. I was one of the first to roost myself close to the sea rather than in the sand dunes where others had already taken up position.
When I had set up my gear – a program consisting of removing my Croc-style shoes, putting my iPhone, Apple Watch, sunglasses and lip balm in them, taking off my white Polo shirt and laying it on the sand as makeshift towel – I lay on my back with one of the shoes as a headrest. The heat of the sun was divine! Laying on the beach on the sand as opposed to reclining on a chaise longue by the pool peculiarly affords a legitimacy to one’s torpidity. The inactivity graduates to the level of a calculated performance – which I suppose it is – but there isn’t the slur of complete inutility.
The authenticity of the indisputable indulgence was enlarged by the nearby construction activity of two young boys. They were building a stadium – a feat which subsequently provoked moderate disagreement between them but which was otherwise a seemingly rewarding task.
After about an hour of dutiful sunbathing I marched intently towards the sea. It wasn’t the first time that I proved to be the only one along the beach who ventured into the sea – though one other subsequently followed suit albeit somewhat less daringly. There was a remarkably strong undercurrent today. It dragged me southward and partially out to sea. Any effort I made to resist the swell was useless. Only by securing my feet on the bottom was I able to redirect my flow – and this before I was drawn beyond the realm of being able to touch bottom. Getting back to shore was accordingly an effort which only diminished when I was almost on land again.
The trail of my cycle homeward took me within the custom of the fisherman and scavengers under or nearby the bridge to Longboat Key. The scavenger – who I asked what he was collecting – informed me it was shark’s teeth. He showed me the astonishingly small teeth resembling thorns from a rosebush. They may or may not belong to sharks but they were definitely teeth-like. Upon further inquiry he advised he shellacks them onto tables for commercial sale. He said the teeth provide a pleasant diversion when at table. The older gentleman was grey-bearded and skinny. He wore army-coloured green rubber gum boots to permit him to wander in the water along the shore. He must have had excellent vision to identify the tiny teeth in the sandy beach.
In what was no doubt a synthetic exemplification of my current state of mind, I curiously pondered upon the unassailable success of a flourishing plant in the sand of the beach immediately in front of me as I sat on a park bench looking outward toward the Gulf of Mexico. Its triumph reminded me of the serendipity of achievement and ultimately happiness.
Gazing at the resort on Longboat Club Road in the distance provided a convenient contrast of the unqualified rendition of the plant.
When traveling under the bridge I had to walk my bicycle along the wooden pathway. It was overtaken by numerous fishermen who had in addition to a variety of rods other paraphernalia such as carts on large plastic yellow wheels, coolers and small collapsible chairs.