Transient interloper

Several years ago – before March 11th, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first became a blunt and irreversible reality – we had hoped to winter on Key Largo. In fact we had negotiated a contract with our estate agent to do so. Now that we are at last here – after the 2020 contract for the upcoming year 2020 to 2021 was obstructed and eventually busted by a government Travel Advisory between Canada and USA, and after subsequently facing a year later inordinate prearrangement obstacles for 2021 to 2022 due to the delayed lifting of the Travel Advisory when we were as a result obliged to winter on Hilton Head Island at a unit which sorely displeased us but from which there was no escape in spite of the estate agent agreeing to cancel our contract (there simply was nothing else available along the eastern seaboard or on the Florida Keys that late in the season) – I feel it is incumbent upon me to delve into the tissue of Key Largo.

Like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, the newly detected coronavirus (SARS CoV-2) has a zoonotic source, however, human to human transmission has been confirmed. On March 11, 2020 the WHO declared COVID-19 viral disease a pandemic.

This seemingly effortless project is not without its trial. If one were to avoid the stock traveller’s notion; namely, immediately to remove oneself from the initial destination for further investigation of other hitherto unknown and unlimited deep pockets, the domestic provocation is strangely akin to iImprisonment. That is, in the pursuit of one’s immediate surroundings only, the boundaries are by definition demarcated, limited and at times narrow and repetitive. Which is to say the alignment is at first blush not unlike life itself. The persuasion and the metaphor is especially noticeable to the evanescent sojourner because of the short period of residency (commonly anything from 2 – 6 months). The transience mistakenly engenders but a superficial absorption of one’s immediate surroundings and community, partly as an instinctive objection to the utility and pragmatism of further and fathomless enquiry. In the result there percolates instead a rabid desire to capture as much of everything else as possible.

My charge is to repel that insouciant submersion and blindfold; instead I am anxious to profit by the very resource after which I once so longingly pined. There is upon modest examination a duel benefit. One, I improve my intelligence of the currency and history of the locale. Two, I replenish the possible mundanity of my daily activity. There is however a third value in permitting the existing spirit to insinuate one’s being; and that is truly what travel is all about. The objective is not simply to transport oneself; rather it is to allow oneself to be transported. This means in part a willingness to adopt the vernacular, to succumb to the blandishment of the local ingredients, the characters and etymology of the place.

This lethargic demeanour is nonetheless not for the pusillanimous.  It requires both a critical mindset and a willingness for digestion of differences (often no easy task for those of us who are old and stubborn). It is soon apparent among the herd of regulars who winter here that they have conditioned themselves to the environment and surmounted those annoying hesitations that commonly plague newcomers. But it is a journey not without its insistence and instruction. I most certainly will not proclaim to have succeeded to that enviable height. By virtue of my mechanical limitations I have proximately encouraged the advantage of lingering upon the immediate stage. It was at the beginning an unwitting privilege. Now however I relish the dominion of domesticity.

It was for example only as recently as this afternoon that I discovered the outlook upon the sea from the north end of Buttonwood Bay pursuant to an avenue largely secreted between the marine outlet and the most remote part of the property. I truly relish such a find, partly accidental, partly thanks to a burgeoning relationship with one of the local long-time residents. It is an enhancement as cherished as hearing a new favourite musical composition, an artistic evolution of life’s passage, paradoxically an uplifting personal acquaintance from which one is not distantly removed.