In the trough

There is movement. Certainly there is. Yes, on the whole I would say that the hustle and bustle relate to a predominantly pleasant state of affairs. But whatever activity there is, it doesn’t achieve the intended goal at this time of year; namely, to leave. Or at least to prepare to leave.  To start packing for Florida.

The pandemic has turned everything on its head. In a very real manner it affects the way we live. The upset has altered not only what we do but also what we don’t. Naturally I appreciate the business about “There ain’t no ship to take you away from yourself” but I miss the inspiring customs we’ve developed for our trip southward weaving through the barrier islands along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean; and of course the sojourn on Longboat Key and the side-trips down the Florida Keys. It is no bludge to ignore the brilliant images that now arise with each breath of cool air.

This year has all the appearance of being a repeat of last year; viz., enduring another winter here, abandoning any hope of wintering in Florida. I cannot honestly say that my activity here or there is considerably different. But you have to agree that a balmy sea breeze, a dip in the Gulf of Mexico and a sea-level bicycle trail shadowed by palm trees has an allure! In fairness it is probably the six-month transitions themselves which enhance the putative sense of activity when in fact nothing much other than the weather really changes.

Whatever the analysis the plain truth remains that we miss not having an upcoming jaunt to the United States of America. Our ambivalence of planes and trains successfully defeats any number of alternatives both nationally and abroad. A moderate interest in Sardinia lingers, yet the thought of having to walk even a block anywhere instantly quells my gusto. There comes a point when mobility restrictions exist. Besides I was never much of a sightseer. I prefer one-on-one at a museum, art studio or by the sea. And did I mention I still like to drive?

Which brings me to my next point, what are called in the industry “mobility scooters”. I have for some time looked at this inevitability with an undeniable interest arising no doubt from its salient similarity to bicycles or cars – mobility. And yes, there may just be a “toy” element to the attraction!

Granted it may yet be premature to embrace this vernacular whole-heartedly but it’s nice to know there survives such retail amusement in old age when all else evaporates. Again and again a sensation reminiscent of the 1942 American romantic drama film Casablanca directed by Michael Curtiz washes over me, the unending wait for departure!

In December 1941, American expatriate Rick Blaine owns a nightclub and gambling den in Casablanca. “Rick’s Café Américain” attracts a varied clientele, including Vichy French and German officials, refugees desperate to reach the neutral United States, and those who prey on them. Although Rick professes to be neutral in all matters, he ran guns to Ethiopia during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.

Petty crook Ugarte boasts to Rick of “letters of transit” obtained by murdering two German couriers. The papers allow the bearers to travel freely around German-occupied Europe and to neutral Portugal; they are priceless to the refugees stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to sell them at the club, and persuades Rick to hold them. Before he can meet his contact, Ugarte is arrested by the local police under the command of Captain Louis Renault, the unabashedly corrupt prefect of police. Ugarte dies in custody without revealing that he entrusted the letters to Rick.