When idly chatting with neighbours (usually around the pool) the topic inevitably arises about what restaurants or concerts one has recently frequented or attended. It is usually a leading question. The enquiry is as invariably punctuated immediately by the name of a restaurant or a recent performance in nearby Sarasota. When the question is directed to me my stock reply is, “We don’t go off the island!” Though I don’t feel it necessary to excuse my offhand reply I may add something about disliking driving at night or a complaint about traffic during “the season“. If I am pressed about the impossibility of resisting the concerts I simply add that I have Bose 700 headphones which afford me an “unrivalled microphone system” with which to enjoy Apple Music’s virtually limitless library of every description (plus curated lists from the Apple editors) – all without the necessity of leaving home, dressing appropriately or having to disguise a social outing for a musical escapade. A similar retort besmirches the quiz about restaurants; namely, I unhesitatingly advance – quite honestly – that I prefer my own culinary preparations or that there are perfectly agreeable venues on the island (or maybe just off the bridge on Cortez Road W in Bradenton Beach). In either case, casual dining is the key. And Arthur Rubinstein when listened to in the comfort of my drawing room chair is even more gratifying than when having to squeeze into a concert folding chair with limited elbow room and enduring the annoyance of someone crackling the wrapper of a mint.
One might reasonably dismiss this sullied approach to invention and novelty as mere curmudgeonly behaviour – and frankly I’m not about to argue to the contrary. I prefer however to dignify the rural retirement to “my book and my bottle” (a metaphor largely) as an estimate of the success we have attained in overcoming anything of the most picayune degree which contaminates our heartfelt leisure. The currency of our moderation is not for example meant to diminish what by our own prior experience was a relevant and meaningful exploit. But things change. By design I no longer own a pair of long pants – at least not one of which I am certain they still fit properly. Straddling as we do the boundaries of Canada and Florida during benign meteorological conditions we have by rungs descended to a uniformity of sartorial necessity which I am likewise bound to say suits our restrained social and culinary undertakings, whether dining here in the winter with friends or in the summer upon the deck of my erstwhile physician at his country residence. Unquestionably the occasions have arisen upon which we’ve had to make strategic choices. Yet our conviction normally sustains us within our calculated boundaries. I find it to be among the supreme pleasures of aging!
This is by way of introduction to what lately has developed as a moderate alteration of my recalcitrance. I concede at the outset that the accommodation has been delightful. The theme upon which I dwell is my recent daily adventure to the beaches at Lido Key – pointedly just across the draw bridge from Longboat Key.
The narrowness of the pedestrian passage across the bridge and the heightened level of urbanity and beach goers on Lido Key initially dilutes the simplicity and purity of the venture. By contrast the travel into the sunshine in the morning (and later upon the return home in the afternoon) qualifies as significant promotion. With the expiation of time I have acquainted myself with accessibility to the facilities in the area. In addition I have established venues of fondness – namely, the south end of the Lido Key which is less inhabited and more expansive. I confess I embrace the ease of lounging in the sun on the beach – notwithstanding the inconvenience today and yesterday of having to endure swirling fine white sand during the uncommonly high winds off the sea. I was powdered everywhere with fine white sand. When not lying on the beach with my eyes closed I preoccupied myself by absorbing the activity of a nearby young family – a handsome couple with their 3-year old blond daughter. The parents appeared understandably enthusiastic about their seaside sojourn. The daughter destroyed the gusto by screaming and complaining about something. The mother – who at first attempted to quell the child’s anxiety by holding her on her knee while sitting on the beach chair – eventually responded by carting the child off the beach (presumably to their automobile for whatever reason). When the two returned the child was completely changed. She and her father played together, kicking and throwing a small plastic ball to and fro. At one point the ball and the child approached me. The child eyed me quizzically with that disturbing abandon of youth and unrestrained curiosity but nothing further developed of our brief acquaintance.