Letter No. 1

Dear, I thought I’d drop a line
The weather’s cool, the folks are fine
I’m in bed each night at nine
P.S. I love you

Yesterday we had some rain
But all in all, I can’t complain
Was it dusty on the train?
P.S. I love you

Write to the Browns just as soon as you’re able
They came around to call
And I burned a hole in the dining room table
Now let me think, I guess that’s all

Nothing else for me to say
And so I’ll close, but by the way
Everybody’s thinking of you
P.S. I love you

Billy Holiday

Knowing as I do your aversion to complaint in the face of patent good fortune I wouldn’t think of suggesting that we are otherwise than fine.  And indeed we are fine.

Like most of North America we are currently locked in cool but extremely clear weather.  There hasn’t been a cloud in the sky for days, just brilliant sunshine.  We have sought to recover from our agreeable but rigorous three-day automobile journey here by bicycling each day for no less than two hours, sometimes three, sailing along the winding trails under a canopy of towering sea pines and live oak trees, occasionally venturing directly onto the vast beach to confront the open sea and enormous horizon.  We saw a small alligator in one of the lagoons and a deer in the park by the pool.

By degrees we have expanded into our new digs, a two-bedroom fifth-floor condominium at South Beach overlooking the Atlantic. However because we are here only for two weeks before moving into our more permanent address we haven’t made it our home though we’re nonetheless quite comfortable. Our industry has instead been directed to stocking the customary household provisions and groceries.  It was only on the night of our arrival that we dined out; otherwise we have taken all our meals at the apartment.  Our supplier of choice this year is Harris Teeter rather than Fresh Market (which is more a specialty store than a supermarket, rather like shopping for canned goods at Holt Renfrew).  We’re intent upon loosing some weight so we’re avoiding bacon and pecan pie.  We have however rediscovered bagels, English muffins and croissants (which are especially good I find with salted butter and Sarabeth’s strawberry jam).  Pointedly we haven’t once dipped into a package store.

Given the extent of this year’s sojourn we visited the Arts Centre yesterday near Palmetto Dunes and purchased tickets to “Singing in the Rain”.  The staff at the Arts Centre had all the hallmarks of local volunteers in a small community, ringing enthusiasm and smiles.  It is inevitably an accident of being here “for the season” that one ends by submerging oneself in the neighbourhood fabric.

Old habits die hard as always.  Yesterday was my first opportunity to take the Lincoln to the Island Car Wash where the staff performed the usual miracle, polishing and buffing the car in addition to cleaning every inch of the vehicle.  Unlike most of the customers I acknowledged their effort.

We have kept in touch by telephone with my sister and mother.  As you might expect, nothing has changed on that front, my mother is perpetually concerned that the fuel tank of her furnace is running low and she reiterates at every opportunity her intention to remain in her own home.  For my part I provide the usual assurances that my mother’s accounts are being paid and that her investments are duly accounted.  This appears to placate my mother though she sternly reminds me to keep in touch.

I confess this adventure is not without its novelty.  The short answer is that it is an unsurpassed indulgence.  Every time I catch a glimpse of the Ocean, the white sand beach, a ship in full sail, sea gulls, pelicans and even dolphins, I wonder if I shouldn’t pinch myself.  Oddly there are fleeting moments of being homesick, there is after all only one home.  But I haven’t the inclination to diminish the experience for a tick.