New Year’s Eve on Key Largo (2022)

I say this without waver or desire to offend by any perceived standard of indelicacy; viz., it was another awesome day on Key Largo, clear blue sky, a soothing southerly wind and warm beguiling temperatures. The anticipatory chitter-chatter about the pool was the 5:00 pm social gathering at the island point to celebrate the last sunset of the year. “Bring an appetizer to share and your own beverage.”

For me however the New Year’s Eve party started at 3:30 pm this afternoon,  the moment I tricycled back home following a day of solar absorption and lighthearted conversation while wallowing nonchalantly in the pool. Nor was the festive buoyancy the evident prolongation of sunshine after surpassing the Winter Solstice. The sunlight yet streamed brilliantly above the tops of the palm trees when only days before it had mournfully threatened to dissolve into obscurity.

Upon arrival at the townhouse, I parked my tricycle as usual near the front door then prepared to gather up my stick and beach towel from the rear basket. Before turning the townhouse door knob I heard a mirthful greeting from our next door neighbour 8-year old Kellan from Missouri. He and his sister 10-year old Annika had silently materialized to share their latest intelligence with me.

It will no doubt surprise you to learn that Annika’s primary objection to the state of global affairs was not the needless starvation of children (which she acknowledged is an insupportable barbarity) but what she described as the senseless killing of Ukrainians by the Russians (Putin in particular). I intervened in her fiery engagement to speak against her suggested murder of Putin by citing that it is the condition humaine to invoke harsh revenge against those with whom we radically disagree. In the same breath I apologized for my apparent contradiction of Kellan’s ensuing proposition that a belief in God is required to eliminate war. Instead I advanced the theory that the war machine is driven by profit; that the employment of thousands as warriors, the development of the products for war and the institution of technology for the furtherance of devices for killing are all ingredients to perpetuate the capital interests of someone or their subalterns. Remarkably this hypothesis quelled the vigour of the spiritual theme advanced by Kellan, reminiscent of my earlier conversation with his father John about Thomas Paine and the “Age of Reason” which I had not predicted when told that his children attended a private Roman Catholic school. I emphasized to both Annika and Kellan that it was up to them – not old fogeys such as I who are beyond repair, ambition and influence – to change the world. They appeared unhesitatingly to accept the calling.

The three of us – two of whom, I and Kellan, were now seated – altered the path of this depressing debate to address the more buoyant theme of what Kellan and his sister Annika might reasonably anticipate to encounter in the immediate future; namely, close friendships with others in their nearest orbit.

This ennobling conversation was punctuated by an unscheduled visit from our neighbours Joe and Debbie who in the wassail tradition came bearing homemade desserts which, following our subsequent animated confab and their departure, we gleefully and thankfully consumed.