For many years we vacationed on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Cycling there is one of the most popular recreations. The pathways throughout the Island are well maintained. In addition is the ability to cycle on the wide beach. It is understood among the swarms of cyclists and those walking along the pathways that the shout-out “On your left!” (or similar verbal notice) when approaching from behind is common courtesy. When we subsequently switched our winter digs to Longboat Key we learned that the expected vernacular when passing someone on the pathway is to ring a bell. The rental bikes on Longboat Key come equipped with a bell in the handlebar. Regrettably there are some cyclists who assume that an alert of their approach is either irrelevant or unnecessary. They couldn’t be more wrong.
It doesn’t require much to entertain me – other that is than a clean conscience (and a clean windshield), scintillating company, a good night’s rest, a satisfied gut, a smooth car and a sunny day! As for the rest I can handily fill in the blanks along the way. Our venture this afternoon took us first on a mission of necessity to historic Renfrew County then southward on an assignment of diversion towards the St. Lawrence Seaway to the charming hamlet of Spencerville. The highways on either end of today’s journey were 4-lane and smooth sailing. Sandwiched between the two extremities were the 2-lane roadways weaving up and down across the open fields of the rural counties.
Part of my daily routine is a country drive in my new car, a Lincoln Aviator. The fact that it is new is irrelevant. My car – whatever it may happen to be at the moment – likely qualifies as new or practically new. What is closer to the unburnished truth is that I adore driving an automobile. It oddly enlists the same spiritual energy I derive from playing the piano. It is a catharsis of sorts. The purity of my endeavour was however initially contaminated. I wasn’t out of the garage more than a second early this afternoon when I got it into my head that I should have washed the floor to expel a minor residue from the undercarriage. Upon leaving the garage I had noticed the blemish in the rear view mirror. It was so trifling that I sought to dismiss its gravity. But this was futile. Because I hadn’t attended to it immediately the obsession haunted me for the entirety of my outing.
Nothing screams inferiority quite like the ordinance, “Back of the bus!”. I can’t but think that the proclamation was geared in particular for the lower classes of American society which includes not only those of racial disparity but also what Hillary Clinton successfully identified as the “deplorables” of society, predominantly poor, uneducated white, racist people. At the mud sucking level of society it is perhaps acceptable that a persistent skirmish prevails among the competing ingredients. I say this not with disparagement but with the same conviction that I expect that many corporate business people conduct their own affairs; namely, people at any level of society try to get away with whatever privilege or superiority they can.
It is seldom that a day is perfect. Today however was the indisputable exception. Naturally the thought loomed in the background that it was “just one of those things“; that is, the entire serendipity of the occasion was not to be dismissed. I hadn’t after all done anything in particular which I would reckon to have fomented the agreeable result. Yet I similarly confess that upon awakening this morning things began unfolding with unanticipated succour and appeal. From the start things were looking well!
Impromptu gatherings are especially happy events in the summer when the balmy weather is at its seasonal peak. Today is the First Day of Summer.
“The summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight. Within the Arctic circle (for the northern hemisphere) or Antarctic circle (for the southern hemisphere), there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice. On the summer solstice, Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. Likewise, the Sun’s declinationfrom the celestial equator is 23.44°.
The summer solstice occurs during summer. This is the June solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the December solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 in the Southern Hemisphere. The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.
Since prehistory, the summer solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. Traditionally, in many temperate regions (especially Europe), the summer solstice is seen as the middle of summer and referred to as “midsummer”. Today, however, in some countries and calendars it is seen as the beginning of summer.“
Americans are at last expressing what has proven to be a slow awakening to the offensive and incomprehensible behaviour of their president Donald J. Trump. Since his inauguration Trump’s conduct has regularly been marred by such a shocking nature that people of standard moral and social education have until recently been either unwilling or unable to call it what it is. Now however their is a very real sense among conscientious persons that Trump threatens the fabric of American society with his potential insane words and actions.
“There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, although he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane. While the reliability of these sources is questionable, it is known that during his brief reign, Caligula worked to increase the unconstrained personal power of the emperor as opposed to countervailing powers within the principate. He directed much of his attention to ambitious construction projects and luxurious dwellings for himself and initiated the construction of two aqueducts in Rome: the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus. During his reign, the empire annexed the client kingdom of Mauretania as a province.“
Today was a balmy summer day of incomparable lethargy! Getting out of the apartment was no challenge in spite of the soaring temperature or the pandemic. What however presented a moderate trial was achieving a degree of novelty. Fortunately for me I long ago adopted a preference for what some would look down their noses and call the lesser scope of habit and repetition. Nonetheless I flatter myself to presume that whatever I do – whether habitual or repeated – has at least an element of artistry or discovery depending upon the nature of the undertaking. A mere drive in the car for example affords me the dual ingredients of artistry (the bucolic country landscape) and discovery (insinuating the nearby cafés and restaurants). When wintering on Hilton Head Island or in Florida it was nothing for me to recollect wistfully the pleasure of a summer’s drive among the hamlets and villages which dot the landscape of surrounding Lanark, Renfrew and Leeds Grenville Counties. Our repeated sojourns to Burnstown, Calabogie and Ivy Lea Club on the St. Lawrence Seaway have inured us to the tranquillity and surprisingly agreeable resorts within a short distance of home – where “rural and urban lifestyles co-mingle in diverse and historic communities“.
The County landscape has transformed into one verdant blossom! The burgeoning leaves are a youthful emerald green. Once exposed pathways are now shady corridors. Water levels are stable, no longer violent with springtime rush. The fragrant air is clear and warm. We’re rapidly approaching the First Day of Summer in style!
By design I relinquished myself to today’s implacable summer drowsiness. The fatigue felt at times irreversible. Accordingly I relieved myself of whatever activity I would normally tackle even in this predominantly indolent state. This meant there was no bicycling, a purgative routine I am customarily reluctant to forgo. Not having that rewarding springboard from which to leap was a decided deprivation. Yet I have noticed on occasion that a so-called “break” from repeated physical exercise affords its own stimulation the next day.