Of late I’ve pondered the difference being here or there. Specifically, the distinction between wintering in Florida and wintering in Canada. Until most recently – that is, until the last few days when we’ve had a steady diet of snowfall and freezing rain – the dissimilitude has not been especially pronounced. The candid truth of the matter is that our habits are so engrained that the predominant absorptions of our daily expression remain about the same wherever we are. Nor is this simply a cheerless commentary upon the inability to change or adapt. Indeed I believe I speak for us both when I say we’re rather proud of what we daily undertake no matter what the geography.
This is the first winter we’ve spent in Canada since we “downsized” in 2014 and began renting this winsome apartment. Our routine consists of middling though repetitive occupations. Primary among them is our affection for and devotion to exercise albeit on a diminished scale from the many athletic possibilities. Ours in particular is bicycling. Until the snowfall began several days ago we’ve managed to sustain a model of about 10 kms per day. This is my limit. Though I hate walking (my spine just can’t take it) I am astonishingly able to endure cycling to that degree. The tours we take here on the erstwhile railway right-of-way or along Country Street and the Rae Road are enchanting. When I compare the outings here to those on Longboat Key or upon the beach on Hilton Head Island I am bound to confess that the Canadian vernacular – though poles apart – is no less beguiling. Bicycling is a confined amusement at best. And as one ages the immersion is more one of calculated healthful advantage than topography (which soon becomes recurrent no matter where).
Wintering in Florida does not guarantee a daily swim in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. If one opts instead for a swim in the pool, the practice quickly descends to mere functionality rather than some dreamy conference with salty water. It is a fiction to imagine that one may nonchalantly walk upon the beach. It’s still walking; and it’s still work. The more likely event is a chair on the beach; and, depending upon the seclusion of the resort, may or may not entail the company of others.
Once we’ve punctuated our day with exercise – usually in the morning – the afternoons are devoted to reading, writing and moderate household chores. Once again the unfolding drama is upon the limited stage of an apartment. Seldom do I stand or sit in front of a window gazing at whatever is beyond. This was especially so even in those apartments we’ve had overlooking the sea. The sea I regret to say is an opaque mass renowned more for its distant horizon and atmospheric dome than anything else. I find I am equally stimulated – and at times more dynamically – by the vast fields throughout Lanark County and Renfrew County where I routinely drive after getting the car washed.
Driving is the one thing I seldom do in Florida – except when for example traveling through the Everglades en route to Key West. But daily outings in the car in Florida just don’t happen. Longboat Key in the “season” is a bottleneck of traffic from Sarasota to Anna Maria Island. Our predilection for barrier islands paradoxically ensures its own confinement.
Certainly I miss the ventures to beach restaurants but were we not restricted by the COVID pandemic we’d be going for drives to the Ivy Lea Club on the St. Lawrence River.
The indisputable similarity to wintering in Canada or in Florida under present circumstances is the impossibility of social interaction. It is naturally this disparity which propels the analysis of being on home base where alternate conventions are unthinkable. We much prefer having our own “things”, including not just the furnishings and accessories but also the mystical synthesis of materiality. Seldom if ever have we extended emotional connection to the hardware of the apartments in southern climes. The only exception I can recall is a copy of a beach scene hung on a bedroom wall on Longboat Key.
Since the beginning of our so-called confinement to Canada I have amused myself to consider certain acquisitions. To verbalize the particulars borders upon the vulgar since it is indisputable that such content is highly personal and likely of bantam interest to any other than a similarly minded collector or bald materialist. The persuasion does however speak to the depth of meaning arising from the familiarity of one’s own things.
The final similarity of wintering in Canada or in Florida is the matter of diet. Speaking for myself, the categorical standard in both instances is the same; viz., fruit, cheese, bread, veggies and fish. The violations are likewise identical; viz., peanut butter and maple syrup.
We’re just now beginning to recover from the insanity of watching daily performances by President Donald J. Trump and his Republican sycophants. Never have I witnessed a more uniform insolence of thought and delivery by politicians! This is one common confinement from which we’re thankfully soon to be released.