Anyone who has ever taken a two-week holiday knows that it takes at least a week before you begin to relax. There is often so much hype leading up to the vacation, and then the excitement of getting there, that it isn’t until you’ve managed to wear yourself down for the first week that you really start to enjoy yourself. The hustle may involve getting to know the resort or the restaurants and staff or just establishing a new temporary routine. But it usually isn’t long before one adjusts and begins to soak in the goodness that was intended.
Today marked that day for me, the day when I was no longer distracted by anything other than the blue sky, the Ocean and the envelope of soft, warm air. We’ve recently had a run of gorgeous weather and high temperatures and more of the same is predicted for the upcoming week. There was some effort required to acclimatize to the rental bikes but I’ve now accepted that they are more lumbering and less swift. I’ve decided to avoid pushing myself quite so enthusiastically at least until my muscles adapt to the new regime (mainly, these are not recumbent bikes in the least).
While it feels as though we’ve been here an eternity it is just 12 days since our arrival. During that time we’ve tackled the difficult task of losing weight which if nothing else entails considerably more thought than usual about what we’re about to consume. Basically the diet is fresh fruit and vegetables (including beans), some protein (chicken, salmon, halibut, ham slices and cheese), yoghurt and raw nuts. It is not a painful regiment but we’ve had to abandon bread (English muffins, toast, crackers), pasta, rice, sweets (pecan pie, lemon tarts, ice cream and frozen yoghurt) and – my favourite – peanut butter. For about the past ten days I have been eating carrots, celery, green pepper, tomatoes and cabbage – all raw. Yesterday I reminded myself that it wouldn’t extend the limits of propriety too far to have a Greek salad which of course includes lots of raw vegetables (Romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomato, green pepper and red onion) in addition to some excitement like ripe olives, Peperoncino and feta cheese along with spices (Oregano, Parsley, salt and pepper) and oil, lemon and red wine vinegar. I prepared the salad in a large white soup plate and it was a complete and satisfying meal. It will naturally require more time before we see the results (if any) of this new regime but already I feel positive about it. I am determined to make it work. I can’t but imagine that having fresh fruit and vegetables is a good thing; and I am relying upon the absence of bread and sweets to clinch the deal. Any other diet I’ve ever undertaken required about three weeks before I began to see results. Perhaps the period of transition will be longer now that I am older.
Each morning when I awake I jump into the shower immediately. It starts my day with a bit of a jolt but it obviates any quandary about apparel. Fresh clothes and a clean start! Breakfast is a bowl of fresh fruit. Today was slices of green apple, black berries and giant French prunes. Black coffee to wash it down. I putter on my computer while munching. I usually have a small plate of raw veggies afterwards. This morning it was carrot, celery and green pepper. If I am hungry enough I’ll have ham slices or smoked salmon perhaps with a bit of cheese (Stilton is my favourite at any time of day). Around 11:30 am I telephone my elderly mother at her retirement residence in Ottawa. She doesn’t begin moving much before 11:00 am so I catch her just before she “goes down to lunch” in the dining room. It is a routine which clearly energizes her and stabilizes her. She needs the assurance that her affairs are in order (which they thankfully are).
Since we’ve been here I have communicated with everyone who is of immediate importance to me. It is my own form a stability. It strengthens me to connect with my sister and my close friends (some of whom are as far away as the South Pacific). Initially upon our arrival I harboured some trepidation about spending another five months here as though I weren’t able to rationalize the purpose of it. But today the beauty of the surroundings succeeded to convince me. Unquestionably starting a morning by staring at the Atlantic Ocean and watching small boats leave the Sound towards the open sea is not distressing.
As one conditions oneself to the slower rhythm of the place its appeal becomes more apparent. As much as bicycling is a routine it isn’t at all an obligation. I love it. Admittedly I have tempered my enthusiasm. Today for example I originally thought I might pedal to Sonesta Beach or beyond. But once I got to Coligny Park I had the foresight to recall that I still had to get back and that going any further would add considerably to the journey. As it was, I covered about 13.64 miles today over a space of 2 hrs 45 mins. While I wasn’t completely exhausted upon my return home I confess that my lounge by the pool was a blissful slumber in the sunshine for the better part of an hour.
Not unexpectedly I reflect upon many different things throughout the day. Increasingly I am guided in my behaviour strictly by what I consider appropriate by my own standards. While this may have the air of being compromising it is in fact anything but. Instead I believe that notwithstanding my inclinations towards others or events I am bound to do what I consider would be clinically appropriate. This means for example that I will not permit myself to indulge in anything resembling game-playing with others; nor will a submit to the allure of revenge, conceit or any other egregious conduct. I have adopted a standard which might reasonably be called counsel of perfection. While I will of course fail to achieve perfection in anything I do, I have at least the model to lead me. It is all too easy to succumb to one’s appetites in the matter of social interaction as though it were some interpersonal challenge. Having this third-party code affords me the ability to distance myself from instinctive reaction in favour of preferred behaviour. Though it may sound altruistic it is something I’ve found to be decidedly of mutual benefit.
“…but here, the houses falling away on both sides, they came out on the quay, and the whole bay spread before them and Mrs Ramsay could not help exclaiming, “Oh, how beautiful!” For the great plateful of blue water was before her; the hoary Lighthouse, distant, austere, in the midst; and on the right, as far as the eye could see, fading and falling, in soft low pleats, the green sand dunes with the wild flowing grasses on them…”
Excerpt From: Virginia Woolf. “To The Lighthouse.”