Chatting this afternoon with a fellow by the pool he asked, “When you’re in Canada, what do you do during the day?” I responded, “Nothing. Just the same as we do here.” Which is to say, nothing. I’m reluctant to account my daily adventures either here or in Canada because quite frankly there’s little to report. Following my retirement in 2014 there may have been projects of significance related to the administration of my father’s estate and subsequently related to the administration of my mother’s estate. But apart from those undertakings things are predominantly colourless.
A recurring though less than noteworthy event in my life is bicycling – throughout the entire year. It is a non-stop privilege arising from our current custom of straddling the international border for 6 months of the year, an ordinance we hope to continue for a very long time. I have concluded that bicycling is for me a catharsis – not so much an exorcism as an emotional release. While I won’t overstate the habit it affords the simple rewards of exercise, fresh air and just getting “out of the house“. Bicycling is a performance which always garners plaudits – so in that respect it satisfies my urge for achievement, and by that I mean not merely approbation but personal satisfaction. It is an event I don’t mind adding to my list of unglamorous activities.
On both sides of the 49th parallel my hobbies of writing and photography likewise prevail. Whether I’m on Longboat Key or in Mississippi Mills, I can always see something worth photographing and always contemplate something worth writing about. It is simply in my genes to do so, just as modest exercise is instinctive.
At breakfast this morning – the predictable repast of apple, cheese and steel cut oats – I ornamented the experience by listening to classical music on the radio. This combination fed two of my appetites and prepared me nicely for what followed. Not uncommonly I hum to myself while cycling. I wonder at the evolution of the tunes, each of which without fail captures an undefined inner sensitivity. I cannot ignore the drubbing of what arises from within, whether major or minor. It may be jazz or Sergei Rachmaninoff. I respond accordingly, both mentally and emotionally.
Upon landing at Bayfront Park I first drank cool water from the fountain. It is consistently fresh and tasteful, quite unexpected by one such as myself who at home drinks bottled Perrier or San Pellegrino. Then motionless I sat on my favourite bench and stared at Sarasota Bay. On a nearby pier there was a family (grandfather, mother, father and two young children) engaged in fishing. From time to time one of adult males caught a small fish which they or the young boy unhooked and threw back into the water. I felt sorry for the fish. The young boy afterwards drew the palm of his hands upon the deck.
We had to go to the grocery store today because I was completely out of food for the evening meal. I routinely bought the same fruit and vegetables. The one novelty today was hamburger. I had filet mignon the other night – and fresh salmon days before that – so a pedestrian protein venture with extra fat and Kerrygold butter appealed to me.
It was close to two o’clock this afternoon when I made my way to the pool to sit in the sun. My ambition was interrupted by a lengthy conversation with a gentleman visiting from Boston. Over the past several weeks he and I have cultivated a candid acquaintance which never fails to promote an avid reciprocal conversation. The topics today included our mutual interests of writing and photography (though his is more accurately in film). Later two couples appeared from their boat parked in the slip. One of the women was particularly cheery and spent a long time gabbing with me and my Bostonian acquaintance. She and her husband (and the other couple) are here for the weekend only, staying with the woman’s mother-in-law who owns one of the condominiums. They plan to return with their four children for the New Year. Her husband (aged 42) is recovering from colon cancer as a result of which defining incident he bought the new boat moored in the slip. We learned it was something he had wanted to do for some time. The two couples had spent the day on the boat going along the Gulf of Mexico to Anna Maria Island and back. After the Bostonian withdrew I briefly joined the others who were lounging by the pool and swapped tales and quips with them. Knowing that they are here for a short time only – and that they had already begun their first round of cocktails – I excused myself.
Just for the record I note that I swam in the pool briefly. Swimming – like bicycling – provides a welcome nourishment of my general spirit – a more visible purification perhaps.
Finally the dinner menu. This too is a repeat – slices of celery, green pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, Roquefort cheese, sprinkled with Fleur de Sel, drenched in fresh squeezed lemon juice and a dribble of olive oil. One of the hamburgers will follow à côté!